Am I Saving an Animal if I Buy From a Pet Store?


We’ve all heard the saying, “adopt don’t shop” but what does it really mean? For some of us, we understand that rescuing a pet from a shelter is a definite way to save a life. However, some argue that by buying a companion animal from a crowded and cramped cell of a pet store is also a way to save a new furry friend. Well, what’s the verdict? Below, we’ll help you understand why it’s so important to rescue pets from shelters, rather than buying from pet stores.

The truth about Pet Stores

So, you walk past a pet store and can’t help but see those shiny puppy eyes staring back at you in the window. All of a sudden, it’s cuteness overload and you glance around and see many more puppies and kittens, inviting you to come in. Truth is, around 90% of those pets come from puppy mills. And yes, there are kitten mills too. All puppy mills claim their animals are fine and healthy when selling to pet stores and the problem is, pet stores believe them and accept these animals without meeting them first. Furthermore, many puppies from pet stores actually carry certain illnesses that were picked up from the harsh and filthy environments of puppy mills. Some of the diseases that these animals carry are called zoonotic diseases, also understood as those that can spread to other animals and humans.

Well, what are puppy mills?

We will try and spare you from most of the depressing details but unfortunately, there are many. What people should know is that these pet mills have one goal and one goal only: to turn a profit, regardless of how the animals are treated. Female dogs specifically, suffer the worst as they are only used for reproduction over and over again and almost never experience a compassionate relationship with a human. Both male and female breeding dogs will even be confined in cages their whole entire life, 24/7.

Puppy mills can contain hundreds to thousands of dogs that are locked up in these small cages. They rarely have room to turn around and are overcrowded with lots of other dogs in them as well. Can you imagine how filthy those cages are? To limit the amount of filth, most pet mills will actually keep animals in cages with a wire floor, making standing unbearable but the cleanup “easy”. Puppies are the lucky ones since they quickly leave these obscene conditions to get sold to pet stores. The problem is, these puppies are also taken away from their mother far too early without any proper socialization, therefore developing behavioral and health issues as well.

And what about kitten mills?

Sadly, kitten mills are no different. These mills focus on the amount of cats they produce, rather than the quality of care the cats get. Overcrowding in small cages is also an every day occurrence, which leaves these poor felines with behavioral and health issues, as well as matted fur, skin sores, and an inability to naturally groom themselves. And just like adult dogs, adult cats are used for continuous breeding and often killed when they can no longer physically reproduce. One of the worst findings is, most pet mill owners do not provide veterinary care with anesthesia or any veterinary training. Therefore, humane euthanasia is not applicable.

Wouldn’t I still be saving an animal if I bought from a pet store?

No. And sadly, this thought is what keeps people buying from pet stores. You are merely contributing to the puppy and kitten mills by making pet mills profit from their inhumane ways. What’s more, these pet mills keep producing companion animals of all breeds at a massive rate, without acknowledging the 70 million animals that are already homeless in the US alone.

What can we do?

Educate yourself and spread the word: Many people know the harsh realities of pet mills. But if more people knew how they were contributing to them by buying pets in pet stores, more pet stores would go out of business, making the demand from pet mills diminish.

Adopt don’t shop: It’s not just a mantra. By acting on this, you can really save lives. If you adopt your next pet, you are not only saving an animal from homelessness and possible euthanasia, but you are also being a proud UNsupporter of the pet mill atrocity.

Don’t buy from online: Yes, lots of animals from pet mills are sold online as well. And remember, spread the word.

The Good News…

California is actually the first state to implement a law where all pet stores and retailers cannot sell dogs, cats, or rabbits, unless the animal comes from a rescue organization. This is huge and we commend California for paving the way to change the future of companion animals. We hope that with word of mouth and more self education, there will be a time where pet mill animals will finally form a friendship with a human.

If you would like to educate yourself even further, please have a look at these important links and don’t miss Life in the Doghouse on Netflix! Have an experience with buying a sick pet from a pet store? Have you ever advocated for animal rights? Have other ideas on how we can help? We’d love to hear from you!


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