The Pet Store Problem

Are Pet Stores inherently “bad”?

They sell a product that people apparently want, and they sell these “products” at very low prices. What’s wrong with that?

Well, it’s no different really than a used car lot that sells cars they say are perfect, but turn out to be clunkers. In both cases, the inherent flaws in the “product” aren’t visible and won’t come to the attention of the new owner for quite some time. Another analogy might be stores that sell cigarettes. They’re also selling a product that people want (or need), but this product in dangerous. But the danger isn’t immediately obvious, and the cost to the person buying the product is hidden, and the cost to our society is obscure.

So yes, Puppy Stores, stores that sell cigarettes, and used car salesmen selling poor quality cars are all inherently “bad”.

But the worst thing about Pet Stores is that their products are living beings. And they are the final retail outlet for an industry that is an abomination.

So the puppies, after being born and raised in these conditions:

Virginia-puppy-mills-2x3Are then put in a truck with hundreds of other dogs and shipped around the country.  and then into cages that are similar to the ones seen in the Puppy Mills. But the dogs get cleaned up, there are less per cage, and the cages might be plastic or steel instead of plywood. The ones that didn’t make the trip are disposed of. The ones that arrive sick are cared for as best as possible by the untrained, uneducated, underfunded staff. Every penny spent on a puppy’s care is less profit to the Pet Store at the time of sale. The Pet Store’s only purpose is to move those puppies out of the store as soon as possible for the most amount of money that can be had from any unsuspecting prospect.

puppies in cages

Never seen a Pet Store like this? I have, and too often…. Dr. R

This is the chain of pain. Born in misery, put in trucks all too reminiscent of the cattle cars of WWII, and shipped to the last stop on their journey before hopefully being sold to a good home….. if they haven’t died somewhere on the way, or in the Pet Store.

But every chain has it’s weak links, and we’ve identified the weak links in this chain. And if we are successful in breaking these links, the whole industry will collapse.

3 Comments to The Pet Store Problem

  1. Krista B. says:

    I would like to point out that not every pet store puppy is sold for cheap. This, of course, has little to do with quality, but uninformed people who want designer colors and breeds. Where I live, in NJ, there is a pet store selling dogs into the $6,000.00 range, but the puppies have been traced to mills. Of course they lie and say otherwise. I just discovered that my veterinarian does the health checks for this store and have written but received no response if it’s true, which I take to mean that it is. So I am now shopping for a vet I can trust is not perpetuating misery. I fear I have a long search ahead of me. This area is rife with pet stores that sell puppies for large sums and people with money to burn who think they are buying the best. And not enough vets willing to help educate. Thank you for trying to do just that.

  2. philvet says:

    You’re right Krista. But those puppies that sell for such high numbers are usually young, between 8-12 weeks old. Once the dogs get older they go for much less, because they’ve become an expense, a drain on cash flow. Eventually, usually about 6 months of age, they’re basically given away for a hundred dollars or so. And I’d urge you not to be too harsh with your vet. The puppies are there, and it’s not their fault they’re in a pet store. They deserve care, and hopefully your vet is doing the best job he can in a difficult situation. I know that in NJ there is someone who has been organizing protests at pet stores. Have you heard about that? Contact me privately at and I can give you some more info.

  3. Krista B. says:

    I guess we will have to disagree. It’s not a black and white issue, surely, but one cannot begin to help educate an uninformed public about where pet store pups come from while simultaneously maintaining their care. I’m not saying it’s his responsibility to educate, but considering the scope of the problem, it should merit some sort of effort. I am merely doing my part to make a point. Thank you for your response.

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