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Burden of finding healthy pet falls on buyer
Dear Dr. Spiegel, I read your article that appeared in the Sunday News Journal (Oct. 23, '94), and felt compelled to write with my comments. Quoting from the article you write, "I have not had contact with this particular pet store, and cannot pass judgement. This is why I would like to redirect your focus to a different source - breed rescue groups." In reality, what you have told them was... don't waste your time considering [pet stores] as an option. That advise... I find reprehensible! Your advise of breed rescue groups is a very good place to consider as an option for acquiring a new pet, but as any good option it should be considered in light of all other options. Pet stores get a bad rap, some deserving, many not. How can you justify condemning and making judgements on all? You "generally do not recommend pet stores as a source for obtaining a pup" based on their "living environments" and "neglect," quotes from your article, yet you advise rescue groups and perhaps shelters as a preferred method of obtaining a new puppy, as if to say there will be none of these problems if a puppy is acquired from these sources. One would need to ask themselves, where did these puppies come from originally and why was there a need to rescue them? I believe you are naive (although maybe well intentioned) to believe that by condemning (or "not recommending") pet stores as a viable source for healthy, happy pets you are somehow helping to stamp out "puppy mills" and the bad pet stores. What you should be telling your readers is to do their homework before actually buying and not let price be the overwhelming driving factor in the purchase decision. "Puppy mills" and bad pet stores are, and stay, in business simply because people (and unscrupulous pet stores) buy their pets. And why do they buy their pets... because they are cheep. I believe the situation could better be handled by educating the consumer in what to look for when making that all important buying decision, namely how to recognize a well-run pet store or a reputable private breeder and how also to recognize a not so well run pet store, breeder, or shelter. As you must well know, many people do not make the commitment needed to keep a pet the way the pet should be kept. I am not promoting only pet stores, or Shake-A-Paw, or even Pet World here, what I am promoting is education. I believe an educated buyer can make a intelligent decision on his/her own as to where to obtain a new pet and would never recommend ruling out any business, shelter or private breeder unless that entity deserved to be ruled out based on actual findings, not simply heresy and innuendos. I tell people to do their homework, select a pet on personality bonds, don't let price be the driving force, buy where there is a written guarantee and accountability, buy where your gut tells you things look and feel right. I feel a retraction is in order here, in your column of course, and with it a responsible effort at stressing that it is the buyer's responsibility to do their home work, not simply ask and accept one person's opinion. This person you gave advise to may never include a pet retailer in their buying decision and may not want to take the time you did acquiring your dog, therefor having been frightened away from possible good sources of pets may never enjoy the love and companionship of a pet. Sincerely, Lawrence A. Gamble, Pet World
Dear Mr. Gamble, Your assertion that my statement, "I generally do not recommend pet stores as a source for obtaining a pup" might lead consumers away from a potentially good pet store is well taken and I apologize. The full context of my comments read: "Many pet stores are fed by puppy mills that pump out poorly cared-for and over-bred animals. And I generally do not recommend pet stores as a source for obtaining a pup. Their living environments (constant caging) regularly lead to housebreaking difficulties, and the neglect of their exercise needs can lead to other problems as well. I am not fond of the idea of selling an animal for profit." I have not had contact with this particular pet store, and cannot pass judgement. This is why I would like to redirect your focus from pet stores to a different source -- breed rescue groups. Sources for obtaining a pet are many. They include pet stores, shelters, private breeders, breed rescue groups, and the litters of friends' and family members' pets. There are no guarantees that any source will be problem free. Pennsylvania's state Senator Stewart Greenleaf has proposed a "Dog Purchaser's Protection Act" which if passed would make the seller responsible for the veterinary bills of any puppy purchased that was found to have physical or psychological complications. At present, sick or problem puppies are treated like defective household appliances. Many pet stores will issue guarantees that enable you to return the animal and refund your money or replace the pup with another. However, if such a bill is passed, pet stores could no longer engage in this convenient guarantee, and would no longer find it profitable to deal with puppy mills if this is their current practice. Similar legislation has passed in several other states, and I would urge the people of the Delaware Valley to write your state representatives to pursue such efforts in your home state. Until such a time comes to pass, "Do your homework!" and "Let the buyer beware!"