Why not buy a pet shop puppy?

You’re in the mall and walk by a pet store. All of the children have their faces pressed against the glass to get the attention of the puppies in their cages. Some are sleeping and some are romping. When the pet shop worker takes one from the cage and gives it to you, he’s irresistible. But before you whip out the credit card and buy a puppy from a pet shop, there are some things to consider.

Pet shops are supplied by puppy mills

Many of the puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills. A puppy mill is a place where dogs are bred solely for the purpose of making money. In stark contrast to reputable, responsible dog breeders, puppy mill owners generally have no regard for the health or well-being of the dogs in their possession. They want them to reproduce as quickly as possible. They often own dogs from numerous breeds to produce a wide range of puppies. The dam (mother) and sire (father) are rarely, if ever, chosen as good specimens of the breed, and they may have genetic and temperament problems that will be passed on to their puppies.

The dogs are kept in deplorable conditions with no access to clean water or proper nutrition. There are usually so many puppies and dogs on the premises that it’s impossible for them to be cared for properly. The puppies receive little or no human contact leading to poor socialization and potential behavioral issues.

Pet brokers or wholesalers buy puppies from a puppy mill in large quantities and then sell them to pet shops. The puppies are shipped out at five to six weeks old before the crucial seven-week socialization period has ended. They’re made presentable after they arrive at the pet store, but malnutrition, poor socialization, and lack of adequate veterinary care make them health and behavioral disasters. While sitting in their cages waiting to be purchased, the puppies are “trained” to defecate and urinate in their cages. This makes housebreaking extremely difficult if not impossible.

Not worth your time or money

You may think that if you buy a puppy from a pet store you’re saving him from further harm, but consider the ramifications. The cost of raising a dog is already quite high if you properly care for your new puppy. Pet shops charge a premium for their puppies and sometimes more than what you would pay to a responsible breeder for a well-socialized, well-nourished, happy puppy. With a pet shop puppy you’ll likely have no idea where he came from, and he may be susceptible to a host of health and behavioral issues. This only increases the cost of veterinary care and makes obedience training more time consuming. Additionally, you may be able to save that particular puppy, but in doing so you’re keeping the pet store and the puppy mills in business and ready to turn out more merchandise. Keep in mind that even if the pet shop has registered the puppy, a registration certificate and pedigree do not guarantee the dog is healthy or that he’s even purebred.

Please don’t buy a puppy from a pet shop, especially on a whim. Decide that you’re ready to adopt a puppy first and foremost. Then find a dog breeder that can offer you puppies that have been properly bred and raised. If you take the time to buy a puppy that’s right for you, you’re going to save time and money. More importantly, you’ll have a healthy companion to share your life with.

You can read “Get the Facts on Puppy Mills” at the Humane Society website for more information on the puppy mill problem.