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Puppies and Pet stores | Merit Puppy Training

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Puppies and Pet stores

Been to a pet pet store?

Out shopping at the local Mall with the family, you turn the corner and walk right into a crowd.

Adults, teenagers, and children, lots of children, their faces pressed against the glass.

Is it the toy store? The video arcade? One of those cookie & candy stands? No, it’s the Pet Store, and the draw is one of those bumped out windows full of adorable puppies. As they jump and scamper through the shredded paper, the crowd “oooohs” and “aaaahs” with delight.

Step inside the store, and you’ll notice that behind a glass wall there are cages stacked three high full of cute puppies representing all the popular breeds. Poodles, Yorkies, Shih-Tzu, Cocker Spaniels, Shetland Sheepdogs, perhaps an Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky or Saint Bernard, and of course, a Dalmatian. Really large stores will offer the more “exotic” breeds such as the delicate Italian Greyhound or the Bulldog, priced accordingly.

Take a good look at those puppies. Those poodles with their freshly groomed coats – they’re shivering madly. Did they catch a chill during their bath? Look at how that Shetland Sheepdog endlessly turning circles in it’s cubicle. A little ‘stir crazy’? You wonder if anyone ever takes him out just to run off some of that energy. That Yorky squeezed into the back corner of it’s cage, the one the attendant has a little trouble catching in order to show him off to a prospective customer. Is he just naturally timid, or poorly socialized? And what about that Dalmatian, sleeping quietly in his cage while the Cocker Spaniel next to him is barking, barking, barking – could that pup be blessed with a Zen-like attitude toward life, or is he possibly deaf?

Now prepare yourself, we’re going to look at the prices – they are steep, almost four figures for some breeds. A down payment on a car isn’t this much.{You’ll notice that the older, larger puppies all have a ‘Marked Down’ sign on their cages.} You ask the attendant, who’s really just a High School kid paid to clean the cages, about those high prices, and you are told that the store accepts all major credit cards. The attendant further informs you that they are all “Quality, Purebred AKC puppies”, that they’ve had their shots, and that they have been examined by a “Qualified Professional”. Presumably, that would be someone who’s had their driver’s license longer than 6 months.

You ask to see the Dalmatian, and the little fella is dutifully brought out to a little room where you and the pup can ‘get aquatinted’. He seems a bit distracted, but then again, he just woke up. After a few minutes, you realize that although the puppy prances right over when it sees you pat the floor, it doesn’t seem to be responding to your attempts to call it. Again, you wonder if it may be deaf. When questioned, the attendant says he didn’t know that Dalmatians could be deaf, he’d never heard about that before. To help settle your doubts, he assures you that there is a 30 day money back guarantee on all the puppies – if you decide you don’t want him, just bring him back for a replacement. {He doesn’t mention what happens to a returned pup.}

Now you ask to see the cute little fur ball Malamute puppy. Once again, the room comes alive with the happy face and perky expression of a 10 week old puppy. “Wait a minute”, you exclaim to the kid with the water dripping from behind his ears, “The puppy seems to be limping on his back leg. What’s wrong with him?” The attendant, , once again, has no clue what happened, or what might be wrong. Actually, he has no idea that hip dysplasia even exists, and couldn’t tell you what it was. Puppy must have pulled a muscle, playing in the back somewhere. Yea, right!

In the end, your good sense wins out. You hand the pup back to the attendant and go on with your shopping. Later that afternoon, when you see that same puppy going home with a family, you wonder if they noticed anything odd about him. Probably not, as the purchase of a pet shop puppy is really just an impulse buy, just a little something that they ‘picked up’ at the mall.

Honey, see what I got shopping. I bought some new curtains for the den, they had these great shoes, and look, this cute puppy was marked 1/3 off.”

Each month, the AKC registers around 100,00 dogs.

It conservatively estimates that between 8.5 and 14% of those dogs are sold through pet shops all across the country. Animal protection leagues place that figure much higher, at over 50%.

{I personally think the number is somewhere in between.}

But for the sake of argument, we’ll use the AKCs numbers.

That’s still a lot of puppies doing time in that wall of wire cages.

Where do they all come from?

And just as important, where do these puppies, the ‘ultimate impulse buy’ eventually end up?

Let’s set this straight, pet shop puppies do not come from responsible breeders. A responsible breeder would never sell a puppy, or, as is often the case, an entire litter of puppies to a “Puppy Broker”, someone who buys puppies from the breeder and resells them to pet shops.

The responsible breeder will take great pains to see that every puppy in a litter goes to a good home. The responsible breeder knows what diseases and genetic conditions his or her breed is known to carry, and they test each puppy for those conditions before the puppy leaves their home. Where do those Puppy Brokers get their seemingly never-ending supply of “Merchandise”?


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