Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog

Pet Shops

Pet shops are everywhere. Almost every town has one. But fewer and fewer pet shops sell dogs. If you have a pet shop that sells dogs near you, is it a good place to get your new dog? The Stigma Against Pet Shops. Fewer and fewer pet shops sell cats and dogs because of a growing stigma against buying animals from pet shops. The stigma against pet shops stems from two sources: the conditions in pet shops, and the sources of animals sold in pet shops. The worst pet shops simply don't have the time or space to properly exercise and care for their animals. Dogs in some pet shops stay in cages until they are cleaned, or until someone takes them out to consider their purchase. When the puppies are removed from their cage so the cage can be cleaned, it's typically only so they can be moved to another cage. Animal rights groups have brought awareness of poor pet shop conditions to the public on a nationwide basis. This unwanted attention has resulted in many pet shops no longer selling puppies and kittens. The other part of the stigma against pet shops is based on where pet shops get their puppies. Most pet shop puppies come from a commercial breeder or puppy mill. With the growing awareness of the conditions in which breeding dogs and their puppies are kept in puppy mills coupled with the increased awareness of the number of dogs euthanized in shelters every year, many people stopped buying dogs from pet shops and instead focused on getting their dogs from animal shelters, rescues and directly from a responsible breeder. The combination of these factors has contributed to the decision of many pet shops, including nationwide chains, to stop selling puppies and kittens. Instead, many pet shops now carry exclusively pet supplies and small animals while some have formed partnerships with one or more rescue groups to assist in finding a home for their dogs. Responsible Breeders Don't Sell to Pet Shops. Responsible breeders are selective about who gets their dogs. They prefer to see their dogs go to a home that is well-suited to the dog's activity level and other needs. Responsible breeders personally oversee the placement of their dogs; they don't let brokers sell their dogs for them, and they don't sell them to pet shops. Additionally, the demand for puppies in pet shops is high enough that responsible breeders wouldn't be able to supply the quantities of dogs that pet shops require. Generally, the people who sell dogs to pet shops are people who expect a commercial gain from selling their puppies. They breed puppies for profit and selling puppies to a pet shop means they get profit immediately instead of going through the necessary work to place their dogs in an appropriate home. The types of people and organizations who sell to pet shops tend to be backyard breeders, commercial breeders, and puppy mills. Unfortunately, dogs from these sources typically have a higher risk for various medical and behavioral problems. Backyard breeders typically have neither the interest nor the inclination to research good breeding practices. These people tend to produce dogs for reasons other than to improve the breed. In fact, typically they know little if anything about responsible breeding. They may mate their dogs with any other purebred dog, without considering the implications of the match. Dogs produced by backyard breeders have an increased risk for a host of issues. Most backyard breeders conduct no health testing, nor do they typically evaluate either their dog’s temperament or the temperament of the dog they have chosen as a breeding partner for their dog. This means that one or both dogs could have genetic health problems which would be passed on to the puppies. Dogs with poor temperaments, including shyness and aggression, can also pass on these traits to their offspring. Puppies from such a match might be chronically ill and bad-tempered. Some of these puppies make their way to pet shops for resale. Commercial breeders and puppy mills have a similar disregard for responsible breeding practices. Their puppies rarely if ever go through health or temperament screening, and they can produce a large number of puppies with genetic health issues relatively quickly. These commercially produced puppies comprise the majority of pet shop dogs. As a result, pet shop dogs are typically more prone to having genetic health problems that will become evident later in their life, together with behavioral or temperament problems that may require assistance from a trainer to resolve.