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What pet stores should I shop at?

What's wrong with selling live animals

  • Animals supplied to pet shops including birds, puppies, and small mammals, are often raised in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. For example, many birds come from "bird mills". Like infamous "puppy mills" such facilities are little more than warehouses in which birds are held in barren cages for mass production. Similar facilities and conditions also exist for reptiles and small mammals. Animals bred by "private breeders" aka "backyard breeders" typically fare no better. Whether they are bred in backyards or at mass production facilities, there is little or no regulatory oversight.
  • Many reptiles and fish are taken from the wild. In addition, some exotic species, including many birds and reptiles, are poorly adapted to captivity and, as such, it is difficult if not impossible to meet their needs in a pet shop setting.
  • Some animals languish in pet stores for years and may develop behavioral problems that further reduce their chance of finding a home.
  • Thousands of animals are surrendered to local shelters and rescues each year, only to be destroyed due to a lack of space, funds, and adoptive homes. In the U.S., four million cats and dogs — about one every eight seconds — are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Selling animals only adds to this tragedy.
  • The cost of veterinary care often exceeds the "retail value" of an animal in a pet store. As a result, sick and injured animals often suffer or die without proper care.
  • Individuals who purchase animals in retail venues often do so on impulse, without a full understanding of the commitment required to provide life-long care for the animals. Most shelters and rescue groups provide learning and support for how to care for adopted animals, as well as include a screening process to see if there is a good fit between a specific animal and person/family adopting him or her. Most pet stores do not provide, let alone know, what constitutes optimal care for the animals they sell.

For more information, see Born Free USA's undercover pet shop investigation, "Little Shops of Sorrows" and visit our section on Pet Shop Laws. To help us better monitor the conditions of animals in pet stores, request a "Pet Shop Action Pack" and become a Pet Store Checker to help us monitor stores in your neighborhood.