Every holiday season, whether it is Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, whatever – people feel the need to not only buy animals for themselves, but buy them for other people. I’m here to tell you that you probably should NOT do that, and I have many good reasons behind this warning. Before you get offended, I am speaking to EVERYONE when I say this – yes, even you responsible pet owners out there. So, here are some reasons why you should NOT partake in any pet-purchasing this holiday season (or probably ever for that matter):
- Pet Stores Get Their Animals From Puppy Mills – Yes, most pet stores obtain their animals from irresponsible breeders, that are cramming dozens (and in some cases hundreds and thousands) of animals into tiny, cramped, areas with the bare minimum of resources to survive. These puppy mills exist for one reason: to profit off of selling animals – so when it comes to actually caring about the well-being of the animals, they drastically fall short. Some pet stores create elaborate stories and fake documents to present to customers, saying that they came from a reputable breeder and that they are from a long line of amazingly well-bred dogs, but 99% of dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills – which is a staggering statistic to swallow.
- You’re NOT “Saving” The Animal When You Buy It – Here’s where you’re probably thinking, “Well, it’s not the dog’s fault that it’s from a puppy mill. I want to save it!” While that’s a very noble way to look at it, unfortunately by buying the animal you are directly putting money into not only the pet store’s pocket, but the puppy mill’s as well – therefore, feeding into the whole business model that they have created. You may think that you are saving an animal’s life (which you most likely are), but you are really just perpetuating a horrible system of abuse and neglect that is profiting off of innocent lives. That one animal you “saved” may be spared, but future animals will suffer in the long run. Because of your purchase, you are keeping the supply-and-demand chain going, and another animal will soon be in its place.
- Their Animals Are Unhealthy – Pet stores are notorious for having sickly animals that don’t appear to be sick until once they arrive home with their new owner. Part of the reason (perhaps even most of it) is because the animals are from puppy mills, and due to the lack of simple care-taking, cramped quarters, and lack of ventilation and sanitation, the animals get sick quite often. Not only do they get sick, but they also are very often born with birth defects due to overbreeding, and also develop defects due to their horrible living conditions. The animal can also have deformities in their limbs because of the lack of exercise, space, and getting caught in the cage’s bars. Not to mention, at the actual pet store, it could be neglected further, resulting in even more sicknesses.
- Impulse Buys Usually Don’t End Well – The reason why pet stores sell animals is the same reason why they sell anything else – to make money. By marketing the animals to the public in cute little enclosures, fun “facts” and adorable pictures plastered everywhere – not to mention the actual animal themselves being ridiculously cute – it makes it all to easy for a walk-in customer to leave with an animal (or several). Many times, people “visit” the animals at the pet store, and end up taking home a new pet because they “just couldn’t resist.” What usually happens later on is that the owner becomes “over it” and either dumps the animal at the local shelter, gives it to a friend, or sets it free in the wild. There are many places where wild rabbit populations are now mixed with domesticated rabbits because ill-informed owners think to themselves, “It’s an animal, so it belongs in the wild anyway.” This could not be more incorrect – these animals have been bred for hundreds of years to be domesticated and are dependent on a human for survival. Owning any animal is a commitment to care for the animal for the rest of its life. Even if it is a small animal, like a guinea pig or rabbit, it could live up to ten years or more.
- Don’t Trust Your Friend With a Gift – You may think that your friend is super responsible, and that may even be so- but you should never just make the decision to buy an animal for your friend as a gift. Even getting them a fish obligates them to care for the animal, and you have no way of knowing for certain if they are up to the task. They may be telling you that they “really want” an animal, but do they actually want them outside of scrolling through cute internet pictures? A good rule of thumb is to just never buy someone an animal as a present because you are putting them in a potentially tricky situation, and possibly fatal situation for the animal. If you are a parent, you should probably refrain from any pet that you yourself cannot help take care of – because let’s be honest, will your kid actually care for it like they say they will?
- There Are Tons of Animals At Your Local Shelter or Rescue – There are so many animals that are in need of homes at your local animal shelter, that you should really just adopt or rescue an animal from there. There are also tons of rescue nonprofits that have animals that they have saved and are looking to adopt out into a loving “furever home.” Millions of animals each year are “euthanized” unnecessarily in shelters all over the country due to lack of space, resources, and inability to embrace no-kill options. In fact, some progressive pet stores are now implementing a policy to only sell shelter pets, which is an amazing step in the right direction. Some states like Arizona, have even passed legislation that makes it illegal to sell any dogs or cats that are not from animal shelters. In most cases, you can find the specific breed and type of animal that you are looking for, and if not, you will find a different companion that will also be amazing. Be responsible with adoption too, by making sure you accept the commitment to giving the animal time to adjust to you as its new owner. More often than not, its previous home life was awful and traumatic, so it will need you to give it patience and compassion in its transition to your household.
This holiday season onward, please be a responsible citizen of society and do your part to help end the seemingly endless cycle of abuse, neglect, profit, and suffering. While pet stores can be a convenient and useful source for pet supplies, they ironically are the worst place to buy a pet. There are many different options to explore that involve rescuing animals in need of a home – and if all else fails, plenty of licensed and reputable breeders that have your desired pet. Educate yourself on proper adoption techniques and you won’t have to worry about any of the problems discussed in this article!
For more resources on this subject, here are a couple websites for further information: http://www.chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2011/11/real-pet-lovers-dont-purchase-pets-at-the-pet-store/
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