I am sitting here writing my third attempt at this as I have been told my first two versions needed toning down. The problem with this is that to ‘tone it down’ is equal to smoothing it over, covering it up, not causing offence. I can’t do this, I’m afraid, as there is nothing warm and fuzzy about the subject matter. There is no way of putting a ‘smiley face’ on the subject of animals in pet shops. It’s black and white, you’re either for it or against it and I am most definitely against it.
This is not a new topic for me as I have voiced my opinion about this before, but having visited some pet shops recently and seeing fish and birds dead or dying and living in distressed conditions, and most recently having seen dogs and cats left in their display window boxes in shops shut for extended public holiday breaks, I feel the need to bring the subject up again.
I am not lambasting any one particular store, all stores that trade in livestock, be it dog, cat, fish or bird appall me. Those of you who support these stores must ask yourselves from where these animals come, are they kept in a manner that enables their physiological and psychological growth while in the store, and what happens to those animals who do not find a home. Unfortunately where money is concerned, profit comes first, and when this involves the livelihood of defenceless creatures we must be outspoken in their defence. The RSPCA is only able to intervene with pet shop practises if it is shown that the animals are being ill-treated. If isolation and containment for long periods of time in unattended stores is not ill treatment then I don’t know what is.
Puppy mills and backyard breeders are just one unfortunate example of an off-shoot industry caused by the upsurge of ‘designer dogs’ sold through pet stores, with the breeding dogs often being housed in unsatisfactory conditions resulting in poor health for both the adult dogs and the puppies.
Many people tell me that they also dislike seeing puppies in stores but that they bought one out of pity as the salesperson had told them that a puppy couldn’t find a home. Please don’t kid yourself that this is not one of their most successful sales pitches. I am not suggesting for a moment that all shops that sell livestock are irresponsible or put profit before animal welfare, but unfortunately for every good shop you will find many that are not and because of this the only way to eradicate the problem is to stop the trade all together.
Adopting a pet into your family should not result from a spur of the moment decision made whilst looking through a pet store window; it should result from carefully considering whether your lifestyle and household can provide an animal with the security and attention that it deserves. You should also learn about breed specific differences in behaviour, temperament, energy levels and grooming requirements. There are many animal sites on the web that offer information on pets, their needs and all the ins and outs you need to know about owning one. And finding a pet most definitely does not require a shop, registered dog breeders are easily found through your national or state Kennel Associations or through web searches, and there are, unfortunately, many animal welfare shelters begging you to adopt from the endless number of homeless animals that they care for.
I belong to an industry that has a cruel and unethical side and as such I have a responsibility to be vocal and try to affect change. The argument for not knowing what goes on behind the scenes does not hold, as common sense should surely make us question the morality involved in keeping animals in confined conditions for any length of time, displayed in boxes like so much fresh produce.
Ignorance, I’m afraid, is not bliss it is just plain out and out ignorance.