7 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
Lately, Wisconsin has been having a lot of achievements when it comes to banning retail puppy sales. There are currently five cities in Wisconsin that have passed the humane pet store ordinance, and a sixth one is in the process. Molly recently attended a council meeting to support the ban on puppy sales in pet stores and to learn more information about these laws.
For those of you who don’t know, almost all puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. Breeders that care about their dogs want to ensure that the puppies in their care go to a good home, so they wouldn’t ship them off for a store to sell. So, by banning the retail sales of puppies, kittens, and rabbits, these mills lose some of their sources. Animal advocates will continue to fight until all cities have passed these laws.
Humans who know a lot about the puppy industry believe passing these ordinances is obvious. But not everyone cares about dogs as much as Molly and her fellow volunteers. So, Molly wanted me to discuss some of the misconceptions she’s heard recently relating to these humane pet store ordinances.
“This Will Harm Good Breeders”
The goal of this ordinance is not to harm dog breeders. It’s only targeting large-scale commercial breeders who put profit above everything else. Breeders who breed and raise a litter or two at a time in their own homes will not be penalized in any way. As I mentioned before, breeders who care about their dogs do not ship them off to pet stores, so prohibiting pet stores from selling puppies won’t stop good breeders from selling their dogs.
There are lots of options for buying dogs other than pet stores, including humane breeders, shelters, and rescues. These places won’t hand you a puppy the day of, but that’s a good thing. These other options want to ensure that the dogs in their care are going to suitable homes. Plus, getting a dog is a big decision that should never be an impulse buy, which is something that happens often at puppy stores.
“Some Pet Stores are Trying to Do the Right Thing”
More often than not, this is not true. Pet stores that only sell products are doing good things for pets, but those businesses won’t be harmed. If puppy stores were “trying to do the right thing,” they’d either stop selling puppies or find more humane sources to get them from, such as partnering with a rescue or breeding and raising a litter themselves. Selling dozens of puppy litters at a time isn’t humane.
Puppy stores like Petland often claim to be making improvements, but they have yet to show it. When a council member recently asked Petland for a list of breeders they use, they didn’t get a response. But research from Bailing Out Benji shows that some of Petland’s breeders are known puppy mills. So, “trying” to do the right thing isn’t good enough when dogs’ lives are at stake.
“My Puppy is From a Puppy Store and Healthy, so it Can’t Be That Bad”
Sadly, this is something Molly hears often when talking about puppy mills. Decisions shouldn’t be made only based on your personal dog. Of course, many of the puppies that come from pet stores are just fine, but many of them aren’t. Many of them suffer from long-term behavioral and medical issues, and some don’t even survive a week. Just because your pet store puppy seems perfect doesn’t mean there aren’t puppies suffering.
Also, it’s not just about the puppies. Even if all the puppies are healthy, the parents probably aren’t. Molly has seen many breeding dogs rescued from puppy mills, and they’re always in rough shape mentally and physically. So, I would hope that most people don’t think a “perfect” puppy is worth the suffering of the adult dogs who bred them.
“We Shouldn’t Control Who Sells Legal Products”
Molly heard someone compare selling puppies to other products like tobacco and alcohol. They argued that if something is legal, we shouldn’t be able to restrict people from selling it, regardless of how we feel about it. However, that argument is pretty flawed because not every place can sell things like alcohol, so why can’t we restrict certain places from selling puppies too?
Of course, dog lovers don’t see puppies as products, so it’s difficult to compare a living thing to other merchandise. But to the law, pets are still considered property, so that’s where the argument was likely coming from. I’m sure everyone that owns a dog knows that we’re family though!
“I Don’t Like Dogs, so This Doesn’t Matter to Me”
Not everyone is an animal person, and while I’ll never understand it, that’s okay. But just because you don’t want to be around dogs, cats, and rabbits doesn’t mean you should want them to suffer. If this issue doesn’t matter to someone on the council, then why would they vote against it? If it makes no difference to them, I hope they would do the right thing.
Yet, there are also ways to look at this without considering the innocent animals being harmed. Overall, puppy stores are bad for the community. They cause people to unknowingly support animal cruelty, and they cause lots of suffering for families when the puppies tragically pass away. Plus, many people are tricked into “leasing” or “financing” these puppies, which ends up costing them much more than the thousands of dollars they already paid.
“You Don’t Care About Any Pets Except Dogs, Cats, and Rabbits”
I can’t speak for all humans, but I know this isn’t true for Molly. Molly loves all pets, and she personally wouldn’t buy a pet from any pet store (yes, Wooper is a rescue!) But there’s a reason these ordinances are only focusing on dogs, cats, and rabbits. Of course, all pets can be overbred and mistreated, but no other animals are currently being mass-produced and shoved in tiny cages the way these critters are. If volunteers learn that any other pets are being treated similarly, they’ll likely add those animals to the ordinances.
“This Won’t Stop Puppy Mills”
I never thought this would be a reason for someone to not support the humane pet store ordinance. Sure, it doesn’t directly stop puppy mills, but there’s no way for one city to stop them completely. Yet, every city can make a dent. It might seem small at first, but without every dent, we won’t be able to stop them on a bigger scale. Sure, the pet stores planning to open in one city might just move to the next, but that’s why volunteers will keep working on one city after another until retail puppy sales are banned at all of them.
Banning puppy mills directly is very difficult. There are already breeder regulations in place, but they’re minimal and hard to enforce. Getting the government to change these laws will take a long time, and breeders will likely still find loopholes. Yet, if we cut off as many sources as possible for these puppy mills, it’ll be harder for them to operate. By passing these ordinances, they’ll hopefully have no pet stores to sell to in the near future. That’s why volunteers are focusing on stopping puppy stores instead of puppy mills directly. Plus, most puppy mills are from other states, so our state’s laws wouldn’t affect them.
“The Human Society Views Puppy Stores as Competition”
This is by far the most ridiculous opinion I’ve heard. Shelters and rescues do not view pet stores or breeders as competition. They don’t even view other organizations as competition. That’s because rescues and shelters want as many dogs to find homes as possible. So, when other organizations get dogs adopted, all shelters and rescues are happy for them. No one working in dog rescue is looking to gain money, but instead, they’re hoping to have as few dogs as possible looking for homes.
If a new puppy store opened, that would increase the number of pets entering rescues. There would be more breeding dogs abandoned by puppy mills and more families surrendering pet store puppies when they don’t turn out as “perfect” as they hoped. So, it would give shelters and rescues more dogs to find homes for and more work to do. Not because there’s competition but because more dogs would end up homeless.
These humane pet store ordinances are not about money. They’re not about shutting down good businesses and being afraid of “competition.” They’re about saving dogs. Hopefully, city council members everywhere can understand that so these ordinances can keep getting passed. The more cities that pass them, the fewer dogs have to suffer.
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