I was surprised today, to find that we are still in the dark ages. As LA and other US states ban the sale of pet shop puppies, Harrods, one of the UK's most well known flag ship stores, still sells puppies in it's pet department. I have just been told by an assistant that I can walk out with a puppy if I supply a written character reference, a driving licence and £3000. These puppies even have a Kennel Club certificate, worth, as we know, it's weight in dog poop. (Check out the C4 documentary on pedigree kennel club registered breeding practices, ie King Charles cavaliers which are bred for looks which result in brains too large for their tiny skulls, leading to epilepsy, behavioural abnormalities and eye bulging problems, which were apparently not a problem for the kennel club to register).
Most dog lovers and owners know that pet shop puppies are bad news. Good breeders do not hand over their pups to pet shops. Not ever. People who put cash before animal welfare, hand over puppies to shops. As a result, very poor health is standard, little or no socialisation and behaviour problems are the norm, they are rarely screened for genetic disorders, often fearful and stressed by the conditions they are raised in. To be clear, these dogs are sold to shops by dog breeders interested in one thing only: MONEY.
Harrods and other shops who sell puppies clearly have little interest in animal welfare, or they wouldn't be encouraging the impulse buying of animals and the stress that this kind of early experience gives a puppy, damaging it's development, not to mention the conditions the breeding bitch will be living in.
Before buying a dog, you need to think very carefully. its essential to research breeds, temperament, grooming requirements, the size and exercise requirements, and of course why not adopt from a rescue centre if at all possible? It is certainly not shopping! A puppy is not something you might pick up while out looking at new handbags. Or it shouldn't be! It's an addition to the family that comes with huge responsibility. Dog lovers and owners know that, and aren't the target audience for shop window puppies. We know these poor puppies are not to be encouraged, heart breaking though that is to each individual case. It is people - shoppers - who are new to dog ownership, who are the target, and are highly likely to make an impulse buy that both they, the puppy, and many more will suffer as a result of. Except of course the shop and the breeder!
Giving up a dog because you haven't thought about what you are taking on is also a very unpleasant task. I've come across many sad stories as a dog walker. The previous owners of my 5 year old rescue dog were very upset about giving her up. They simply didn't know what they were taking on, which was a hunting dog in need of a lot of exercise, care, love and mental stimulation, not an impulse buy! It's an unpopular view, but i do have sympathy for some of these people who are simply thoughtless and unable to cope with something they were not sufficiently warned about.
In the United States there is a new trend developing for pet shops to align themselves with rescue centres. The shops promote the adoption of homeless dogs and so far it has been a huge success for consumers, rescue centres, businesses and of course the dogs!
A number of rescue centres participating in the scheme now show significantly raised adoption rates in 2012, with a correlated drop in euthanasia rates, thanks to frequent off site adoption events at pet shops. Its been a particular success in states that have additionally put a ban on the sales of cats and dogs in the city shops. LA has passed laws in December that have been in response to the half a million cats and dogs that rescue centres have to euthanise every year, in LA alone, when owners can no longer keep them or simply don't want them. anymore.
Shopping malls, private pet shops, chain stores and city projects all over the states are encouraging replacing commercially bred animals with adoption centres. this trend recently celebrated a major milestone with the addition of the 2,000th store to sign their "Puppy Friendly Pet Store" pledge, a promise to patrons that the store promotes animal adoption and rescue. This is something the UK too should be doing.
As a nation of animal lovers we should be ashamed that we are still allowing Shops to sell pets when in the UK last year alone, over 126,000 dogs were reported to be roaming stray according to Local Authority latest statistics (not all authorities responded so we can be sure this figure is under) which is a 4% increase on the year before.
And Kennel Club registered puppies sold in uk last year? Over 250,000... I don't know how many were pet shop puppies, as the kennel club do now have in place a scheme designed to help them avoid certifying dogs from puppy farms (producers of five litters plus a year must provide evidence of health standards), but that any were registered and sold in pet shops is an outrage.
We must act to stop "impulse buy puppies" in shops, and follow the USA's lead... Let us remember that "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.".