More cities are attempting to squash the substandard breeding practices that infiltrate some of the pet industry by placing an outright ban on selling of puppies in a retail setting.
NPR recently reported that in several states cities are passing laws that ban puppy sales in pet stores. The laws are aimed at cracking down on substandard commercial breeders who activists say supply the puppies that pet stores sell. The laws are intended to encourage pet stores to follow the lead of national chains like Petsmart, Petco and Pet Supermarket. None sells puppies or dogs. Instead, the stores promote adoptions through shelters and rescue groups.
The ban is not only good for increasing potential adoption numbers for dogs that may otherwise be euthanized, it also helps crack down on puppy mills that do not offer high standards of care or treatment of the dogs being bred. Michele Lazarow, an individual leading the banning efforts in Florida, says she learned first hand the problems with purchasing puppies from a retail setting.
Lazarow told NPR that about 10 years ago she bought a pet store puppy that developed a chronic illness. That opened her eyes about where pet stores get the puppies they sell, she says.
“All stores — 99 percent of them — sell what’s called puppy mill dogs, or large-scale commercial breeder dogs. Yes, they’re USDA, but that means nothing, as we’ve come to see.”
To Lazarow, the term puppy mill is defined as any place that places profit over the welfare of the animals in their care. This is sadly, according to Lazarow, the case for most mass breeding operations. She notes that the regulation surrounding dog breeding is poor.
“The regulation of breeders is so poor that all it really does is give consumers and the general public a false sense of security that their dogs are coming from a humane environment when they’re not.”
However, not everyone agrees with Lazarow. Vicki Siegel who owns Petland store in Plantation, Florida, notes that she would go out of business if the laws were enacted in her area. She says that even at her larger, full-service pet store in the nearby town of Davie, puppies and puppy products account for 85 percent of her sales.
“So the puppies are the ones that pay the bills.”
Siegel said that the puppy ban was coming to her community until she stepped up and spoke out against it. The American Kennel Club also opposes the ban. Patti Strand, president of the National Animal Interest Alliance, a group that works closely with the AKC, says commercial breeders have improved practices in recent years which should be considered. Strand thinks that activists are working with old data and assuming all breeders are bad.
“They assume everybody who is selling dogs to pet stores and every pet store that sells them are engaged in some kind of horrific puppy mill kind of operation. That’s not only not fair, it’s not true.”
What do you think? Is banning the sale of puppies in a retail setting a good or bad idea?