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Pets are our beloved friends that we desire to pamper at any cost. We share memories and moments with them, who often reciprocate the love we provide them. But what happens to those who are still waiting for a home? What really occurs before they are displayed for sale?

There are stores that sell products that vary from food to toys dedicated to our furry friends. Although these stores are solely committed to providing tools for the wellbeing of our pets, they do the complete opposite to the creatures that are up for sale in the store. Corporations emphasize business over the health, care, and needs of the creatures that they sell in their facilities. Here are three ways that pet stores enforce abuse over their animals. 

Retrieved from Unsplash

Breeders

Have you ever wondered where pet stores get their animals from? The ignorance of innocence might hint that they are rescued animals or that they come from quality breeders, hence why such stores would display the creature. The sad truth is that most of those animals that are present anytime you visit your local pet store come from inhumane facilities. Some puppies, for instance, come from puppy mills. The ASPCA describes that puppy mills exist because of “cruel commercial breeders who want to maximize profit by producing the highest number of puppies at the lowest possible cost.” These installations are composed of tiny wired cages, which confine the dogs forever, forbidding them from walks, and stripping them of enough space to run, play, or even stretch. Canines are deprived from grooming and veterinary care, and are also forced to constantly breed over and over again. I resume it as an “abusive puppy factory.” Issues like this don’t only apply to dogs. Cats, birds, rodents, and reptiles are also victims of the ‘mills’ industry. Here’s an example:

Photo taken as evidence of PETA’s Eyewitness Investigation: Animals Paralyzed Struggling to Breathe, Left or Dead at Petland Supplier demonstrating many guinea pigs confined into small cages. 

Photo retrieved from HSUS American Kennels investigation.

“Our undercover investigations have repeatedly proven that pet stores like American Kennels get their dogs from puppy mills and are no place for fragile young puppies.”

Photo retrieved from PETA

“Severely crowded bearded dragons fought for food, leading to mangled limbs, some left hanging by not much more than a thread of damaged tissue.”

The despair of mills doesn’t only affect the animal’s physical wellbeing, but also their mental health. In some cases, the constant stress and conditions of the mills cause aggressiveness, which is then expressed by these animals attacking their similarly encaged peers. 

Bad Transportation

Injustice doesn’t stop after leaving the breeders or ‘mills.’ The transportation methods implemented by these inhumane systems are equally cruel.

Photo retrieved from the ASPCA informative site.

According to the ASPCA,

“Puppies are often shipped long distances by truck or plane to brokers and pet stores. The transport may be noisy, crowded, filthy, and too hot or cold. Puppies may also be exposed to illness and disease.”

Inappropriate Cages

Transportation is only the route to another undesirable destination. At the pet shop, animals are assigned cages, and oftentimes, they are too small to accommodate a single animal. Betta fishes are the greatest example as they are put into small plastic containers that barely allow them to swim. Because of this minimized space, bettas develop anatomical diseases and other illnesses that often lead to their death. According to a PETA investigation “ …more than 100 stores revealed dead and dying fish floating in cups of contaminated water, and many were left to suffer from painful or debilitating health conditions such as fin rot and swim bladder disorders”. Not only is their health compromised, but their bright colors also stay dull, signifying the unhappiness of the fish.

New PETA Exposé: Filth, Sickness, and Death for Betta Fish at Petco

Neglect

Corporations still maintain sickening secrets. What happens when a displayed, for sale, animal gets sick? Every pet store has a “sick room,” where animals are isolated for treatment. Ironically, these rooms are sick themselves as undercover investigations have revealed that ill creatures are left to die there. 

PETA’s undercover investigation documented more than 100 animals—including hamsters, domestic rats, lizards, chinchillas, and birds—who lay hopelessly, just waiting to die in the store’s “sick room,” deprived of desperately needed veterinary care and wasting away out of customers’ sight.”

PetSmart's Big Suffering for Small Animals

Photo retrieved from PETA’s Reptiles Suffer, Left to Die at Another Massive PetSmart Supplier Mill Investigation

“Some severely injured and ill animals were left to suffer for days with no food or water in a barren “put down” tub until a manager was finally available to kill them, at which time they were stuffed into plastic “poop bags,” gassed with carbon dioxide, and then tossed into the freezer. A supervisor told one eyewitness that he’d even found gassed animals trying to escape the freezer.”

Some of the pet stores you should avoid at all costs

These are some pet stores that have been investigated regarding violating animal rights and inhumane treatment to creatures. Some have even violated the Animal Welfare Act. 

  • PetSmart
  • Petco
  • Animal Kennels
  • Petland

As mentioned before, keep in consideration that you never know what really happens behind the scenes of a pet store. These businesses benefit from any purchase you make. So, if you buy a puppy to take it out of the miseries of pet stores, another one will take its place. 

Organizations against animal abuse

Hopefully, this article has raised awareness and reached pet owners that strive to consult the prior discussed facilities. Keep in mind that any action, any purchase, is significant to these morally corrupt businesses and must be stopped. To conclude, this is a quote by a facility owner towards allegations of cruelty that lead to the death of 27 animals:

“We’ve got thousands of birds and animals. They won’t all live healthy, happy forever.

References:

Dead hamsters, partially eaten bodies, & other horrors at Atlanta Petco Supplier. PETA Headlines. (2021, September 30). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://headlines.peta.org/petco-stop-selling-animals/

Heartbreaking undercover investigation reveals Sick Puppies at Lexington Avenue Pet Store in New York City. The Humane Society of the United States. (2021, December 8). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.humanesociety.org/news/heartbreaking-undercover-investigation-reveals-sick-puppies-lexington-avenue-pet-store-new

More Puppies, more profits. ASPCA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.aspca.org/barred-from-love/puppy-mills-101/more-puppies-more-profits

Pet shops. PETA. (2013, October 15). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/pet-trade/pet-shops/

PetSmart stores cruelty to animals revealed. PETA. (2017, August 16). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.peta.org/features/petsmart-stores-cruelty-revealed/

Puppy mills: Dogs abused for the pet trade. PETA. (2020, June 8). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/animal-companion-factsheets/puppy-mills-dogs-abused-pet-trade/ 

Kiara Roman is an undergraduate student at University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus. She's part of the Natural Sciences Faculty and majors in Biology. Besides doing science studies, she enjoys developing creative skills and putting them into practice by cooking, writing, or drawing. She's here to grow as a creative scientist and share her imagination with others.
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