Ready or not ….

From yesterday’s Cape Breton Post
Pets Unlimited decision welcome

Published on June 20, 2011

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
The Pets Unlimited chain — which has 18 stores across Atlantic Canada — confirmed late last week that it’s no longer selling puppies.

The chain’s spokesperson didn’t give a reason for the decision, adding that will be explained this week.
Whatever the reason, the decision is welcome.
Nova Scotia SPCA executive director Kristin Williams told the CBC that one of two “mass breeding facilities” under investigation in Nova Scotia is shutting down because it supplied Pets Unlimited with puppies and will lose that business.
Williams differentiates between “mass breeding facilities” and “puppy mills,” but the distinction is somewhat obscure.
Although the mass breeding facilities aren’t illegal in and of themselves, they and stores such as Pets Unlimited have been subject to criticism by the public.
Specific accusations of neglect and overcrowding aside, the overarching problem with retail stores selling puppies is they provide the opportunity for people to make a knee-jerk, impulse purchase of a sentient being because it’s “cute.”
The trouble is, the puppy grows into a dog and goes on to live for 12 or 14 or 16 years if provided with even the minimum of care.
Unfortunately, that’s all many dogs get.
Alana McKay wrote a letter to the Cape Breton Post (Think long and hard before getting a dog, June 18, 2011), expressing sorrow and anger over the number of dogs she sees on her daily walks who spend most of their time tethered to doghouses by short ropes or chains.
“Animals are social beings,” wrote McKay. “When you make the decision to go out and adopt or purchase a dog, think long-term and consider the responsibilities of becoming a dog owner.”
There’s nothing to say a dog bought directly from a purebred breeder or adopted from a shelter won’t be neglected, but the forethought involved in both of those options suggests that’s less likely.
And there will always be an opportunity to get a puppy on an impulse as long as there are dog owners who don’t get their animals spayed and neutered.
Retail business is all about buying products at one price and selling them at a higher price. The advantage for the consumer is the convenience of having multiple products in one place.
That’s OK when the product is a watermelon or an SUV or a television. A puppy is a different story.
Those who want a specific breed, and have the money to spend, can visit and talk to reputable breeders, and inspect the facilities.
Those who simply crave a companion animal are urged to drop in to an animal shelter. The Nova Scotia SPCA has a “no-kill” policy, which means it only euthanizes sick or aggressive animals, and so has lots of dogs to choose from.
Well then.  Is this good news???  Of course it is.  While it is early days to break out the champagne, the simple fact is that it is huge, groundbreaking good news.
Even if this is simply a savvy marketing decision, it is still good news. For a major player to break ranks with the pet industry party line is a really big deal.   Remember that this is happening at the same time as the PIJAC inspired new “Breeder Codes of Conduct’  are being touted by the Urban Animal Summit
Until now, the pet industry has sung in closer harmony than any of my favourite bits from Glee.  To see such a wedge in such unity can only mean one thing… that public opinion about the practice of selling pets is changing.
A dear friend of mine who runs a very reputable rescue says that in the long run, there will be a noticeable impact on the load that animal rescue has to bear.
Does that mean there is no impact now?  Of course not!  In a world where we are still waiting for decent animal cruelty legislation, would the society have been able to shut down “one of two mass breeding facilities under investigation” ?  
Probably not … especially since they are caught in the old catch 22 of needing more funds for investigations … without having enough funds to successfully investigate and prosecute a case that would in turn garner the publicity needed to successfully fundraise. 
So it was, in Marthaspeak, a very Good Thing that Pets Unlimited are getting out of the puppy business.
Even better, every one of the cute little dogs that were surrendered to the society will finally have a chance at a decent life.
Best of all… none of these little dogs will go on to reproduce more ‘product’ that can be purchased on impulse.
When I was a little girl, summer started when we could play Red Rover after supper.   What time is it?  Even if we ‘are not there yet’, it is still sufficient unto the day to savour the significance of such a break in the line.
Coming  …. ready or not.  Childhood game.
Special note … Pets Unlimited Press release on this subject finally came out today :
June 21, 2011 12:00 ET

Pets Unlimited is Pleased to Announce Their EVERY PET DESERVES A HOME Pet Adoption Agency Outreach Program
DARTMOUTH, NOVA SCOTIA–(Marketwire – June 21, 2011) –
Pets Unlimited has proudly been part of the Atlantic pet community since 1988. Over the course of the last 12 months we have been gathering information which has helped us to evaluate how best to serve the needs of the pet communities in the area. During that time we came to recognize that there is an urgent need to find homes for the thousands of pets in local Humane Societies, rescue groups and shelters. In January 2011, and in keeping with our mission of putting the care of pets first, we began the process of removing puppies for sale in our stores.

We are proud to announce:

  • As of June 1, 2011 we no longer have puppies available for sale at any of the 18 Pets Unlimited locations.
  • We have created the EVERY PET DESERVES A HOME Pet Adoption Agency Outreach Program which offers assistance to Humane Societies, rescue groups and shelters.

Our stores are visited by tens of thousands of pet lovers every year and are a natural forum for people to learn about all things pets. Our mission is to help increase the visibility of pet adoption agencies within the community by offering them the opportunity, within our stores, to educate the general public about their organization and the pets they have available for adoption.
Each store will have a dedicated area for adoption organizations to have a table and/or display where they would be encouraged to hand out brochures/pamphlets, handle adoption applications, and show photos of adoptable pets. Stores that can accommodate will also have kennel space devoted for this purpose.
We have began the process of reaching out to the long list of groups that we hope will take advantage of and benefit from the program.
For more information about or if you would like to become involved with Pets Unlimited’s EVERY PET DESERVES A HOME Program we invite you to contact Amy Young at a.young@pets-unlimited.ca or 902-225-6968.

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