Pet stores are not as innocent as we’d like to believe. When you think of pet stores, you think of happy children admiring adorable animals. But there’s a truth behind the pet trade that is not so innocent: the horror of puppy mills. Puppy Mills are mass breeding facilities which feed the pet trade. In these puppy mills, a puppy is taken from his or her mother at a young age, denied of socialization and exercise and then transported to a pet store.

Female dogs are bred again and again until they can no longer physically breed. Then, being of no use to breeders, they are killed. Frankly, the pet trade is nothing more than a money making commodity. Animals are mass produced to make money. This is yet another example of the suffering caused by greed.

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Puppies in Glass Cases

I visit the local pet store every now and then to buy my dog a bone.  It saddens me when I see the isle of caged up puppies, rabbits and exotic birds. Indeed, it’s a privilege to get up close to a majestic, wild bird or an adorable puppy. However, we need to empathize with these animals and consider how it would feel to be on the other side of the cage; faces staring in at you all day, little space to move, no natural environment. Trust me, when you learn to empathize, a part of your soul awakens.

Behind the glass screens, five little faces stared right at me. Only one of the five puppies was standing up. The others were lying down, eyes open, with sawdust covering their fur. The puppy standing started climbing up the glass screen using his fluffy paws. As he gazed at me with eyes full of sadness, I said I wish I could help him. I told him, I’m going to show people this isn’t right.

In tiny cages, exotic birds stand with their wings down at their sides. You can see in their eyes that desperation for freedom; that longing to spread their wings and fly. A parrot looked at me and tilted its head. That familiar feeling of sadness came over me. The feeling I always get when I see sights like these. I just don’t understand why anyone would want to cage up wild beauty. As Tennessee Williams once said, ‘A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages’.

What Can You Do?

Sadly, the terrible conditions at most pet stores make this a poor home for puppies. Even worse, because most of the animals here are purchased on impulse, owners soon loose interest in their pet. Often, owners abandon their pets when they no longer want them, adding more animals to the already shocking statistics surrounding pet homelessness.

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No living animal should be viewed as a fashion accessory. When you take in any animal, remember that they are a family member. Abandoning an animal is like abandoning a child; they will cry for you. Any animal must be taken in on a foundation of love and commitment. Don’t break hearts!

When you buy a pet from your local pet store or from a breeder, you are contributing to animal homelessness and suffering. Offer your home to an animal that really needs one. Don’t purchase a pet from a breeder or a pet store. Another way you can help this issue is by getting your pets spayed or neutered. Remember, as a consumer, you have the power to put an end to the pet trade.

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Image source: Krotz/Wikimedia

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