Pet Shop or Pound, That is the Question!
Article first published as Pet Shop or Pound, That is the Question! on Blogcritics.
Last Fiday's episode of The View had actress Whoopi Goldberg defending her right to buy a puppy from a pet store starting quite a controvery from the animal shelter advocates. “You don’t know what you’re getting when you get a pookie-dingle-doodle from the pound,” the website Hollywood Dog reported her as saying on the show.
In defense of Whoopi's statement, it is a fact that you really don't know everything about a shelter dog's past. Although shelters do make every attempt to gain information regarding a shelter dog's history, the fact remains that, when push comes to shove, you really have to rely on the information offered by the person or persons bringing the dog to the shelter. In most cases, unless that person is an officer or humane society personnel, the information is probably questionable at best!
Shelter advocates often respond that "puppy mills" have horrible conditions, the animals are not well cared for, breeding is for profit and, therefore the pet you purchase may have inherited genetic faults that can cause them to have a lifetime of problems, and so on. Although this is sometimes true, it does not mean that every pet shop owner is guilty of perpetuating puppy mills.
And, herein lies the controversy! Pet shop or shelter? That is the question.
On her Facebook page Wednesday, Whoopi wrote that she doesn’t like puppy mills, but that she does think puppies in stores can be just fine. "We discussed one state that wanted to close all pet stores. I have friends who own pet stores; they love their animals and insure their health and well being. Mills should be shut down. All agree, but don’t paint everyone with the same brush. That was my point," she said."
Now, I have to agree with that particular part of her statement. We simply can't "paint everyone with the same brush". I know that this statement will probably not win me any points with my animal advocacy friends, but, in all fairness, I am sure that there are, in fact, some local pet shop owners who do care about their animals, the conditions in which they are kept, and, where they came from!
A local pet shop is a business, that, in today's economy, is rough to keep up! Therefore, we do have to understand that someone is going to run this type of pet shop, they must have an appreciation for animals, or they simply wouldn't do it!
With pet superstores popping up all over the place, a local shop may have a rough time competing as far as prices go. It's kind of hard to compete with companies that can buy 100 times the quantity of just about everything you sell. So, the point I'm getting at is that the statement is true. You can't "paint everyone with the same brush". There are some pet shops where the animals are taken care of and it would be unfair to suggest that all of them are "puppy mill" supporters. These people know from the start that their business is not going to make them a million dollars overnight, and, for the most part, probably not even in their lifetime or the store's. For a state to suggest closing down all pet shops is ludicrous and a blatant slap in the face of free enterprise! Since when does a state or any government body have the right to suggest that a certain type of business is off limits? Unless, of course, the business is illegal!
We can't stereotype all pet shops as bad simply because they sell puppies or dogs. Also, there are many breeders who do an excellent job at keeping their particular breed of dog free of genetic problems and inherited diseases. These breeders should be commended for their ongoing mission of perfecting a breed. Without them, and, left to their own resources, many breeds would become obsolete and laden with problems. I do, of course, support the adoption of a dog or puppy from a shelter over puchasing one from a pet shop when adopting is an acceptable alternative to buying, especially from a shop that supports the practice of puppy mills! But, I also support the pet shop owners who are simply "making a living" at doing what they love the most, which is spending time with animals!
That being said, my idea is this: perhaps shelters should work with legitimate shops to help find some of these dogs and puppies good homes. Now, think about it. Someone who goes to a pet shop looking for a dog or puppy has a couple of plusses going for them. One, they must have the money to pay for the dog. And, two, they obviously want a dog or puppy!
Like Whoopi, they might be under the misconception that all shelter dogs must have problems, or, they wouldn't be there! (By the way Whoopi, just as you can't "paint everyone with the same brush" when it comes to pet shops, the same is true for shelter dogs! A dog should not be labeled as "undesireable" simply because it comes from a shelter.) There are many reasons why a dog or puppy might have found it's way to a shelter. Perhaps the dog's owner simply couldn't afford it; maybe the owner died and no family members were available to provide a home for him. Or it could be that the dog might have become lost and the owners could not locate it! The fact remains that a "cameraderie" of sorts between pet shops and shelters could provide a much needed addition to the many ways shelters try to find homes for un-claimed dogs or puppies!
What would be so wrong with a shelter, who has a litter of pups, giving that litter to a local pet shop to help in finding good homes for the pups? What would be so terrible about a local pet shop owner regaining the few dollars spent on food and housing for the puppies while they were at the shop? Even if the shop were to actually make a few dollars in the transaction, I don't see the harm! Of course, everything would have to be made public.The fact that the puppies came from a shelter would have to be made known. But, simply put, what would be so wrong with that picture?
The puppies find a loving home with a family that was, obviously, looking for a puppy, and could afford to buy one. The shop owner could bring people into his shop where they might possibly buy other items necessary for the puppy and, therefore, increase his sales slightly. And, the shelter finds homes for puppies that would otherwise be taking up valuable space at the much overcrowded shelter. I think, sometimes, that our need to express or prove our point, can also prove to be detrimental to our cause. Sounds like a simple fix to me.