Should the Eco-mom/green girl avoid stores that sell live animals? There used to be pet store at the huge Beverly Center Mall (Beverly Hills), that housed hundred of the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen, in glass cages that were barely bigger than microwave ovens. I always avoided that side of the mall, as one of the main escalators would take you right past it, however, when my then 3 year-old daughter got wind of the ‘cute little puppy” attraction thing, she would plead for me to let her go and look. For this reason, I totally avoided that particular mall, as I couldn’t stand for her to see and worse, to think that is was okay for an animal to be in a hot glass box all day long with kids smearing dirty finger over the glass or worse – I once saw a kid running his tongue all over the glass! It may seem obvious that companion animals require the regular provision of basic care, including food, water, exercise, social interaction and a safe, comfortable place to rest. However, according to Born Free USA, animals in a variety of commercial settings do not enjoy even these modest creature comforts. Over and over again, Born Free USA’s investigator has found filthy cages, crowded conditions, and sick and injured animals that were denied veterinary care to be common-place in pet shops across the country.
Details of the California investigation (which inspired improvements in the state’s pet shop laws) can be found here
While improving the laws are important steps in addressing the care and treatment of animals in pet shops, sadly such improvements often aren’t enough. The fact is, in a retail environment, animals must be treated like commodities in order for the store to realize a profit. Store managers are often faced with conflicting responsibilities of caring for animals (even when the animals are sick) and making a store profitable. Since the cost of veterinary care can easily exceed the commercial value of an animal, it is apparent that a profit-oriented business strategy and animal welfare inherently conflict in a retail environment.
Even when conditions look okay on the sales floor, the backrooms often reveal a different reality – sick and injured animals removed from public view, but allowed to linger without proper care or veterinary attention. Some stores simply ship sick and injured animals back to the supplier – like a damaged bag of cat food, rather than a living feeling being.
And, what about those suppliers?
Animals supplied to pet shops, including birds, puppies, and small mammals, are often bred, raised, and warehoused in unsanitary and inhumane conditions
In addition, many reptiles and marine fish commonly sold in pet stores are collected from the wild. Not only is removing animals from the wild especially cruel, it can threaten species survival and have lasting impacts on the ecosystems from which they are removed. For example, the demand for tropical fish to fill aquariums has fueled the trade in illegal fish collection in which divers squirt cyanide into reefs to stun fish, polluting the environment and killing smaller fish and coral.
So what’s an animal-loving, green-minded pet parent to do?
Seek out and support pet supply stores that do not sell any live animals.
Born Free USA is working to make conscientious shopping easier with the new “Pet Supply Locator”.
You can help build this database by adding quality stores in your neighborhood that do not sell live animals. . . What a great way to help animals and support responsible local businesses in your community!
The Pet Supply Locator also contains valuable information about what’s really in pet food and how you can select the best food for your dog or cat. Last but not least, you can post a picture of your animal companion to the “Happy Pets Gallery.”