Acquire dogs, cats responsibly
We don’t take pleasure in the closing of Petland, a retailer that sold dogs, cats and other pets. The business was a franchise of an Ohio-based chain, but it was locally owned. When it shut it doors earlier this month, about 20 people lost their jobs, according to store officials, and those folks now must seek work in a down economy.
But there is a silver lining: Two years of protests of the store by some Austin residents helped focus attention on the inhumane practices of puppy mills. Earlier this month, the Austin Animal Advisory Commission voted to ask the Austin City Council to ban sales of dogs and cats in stores because of concerns that such animals come from puppy mill operations. Petland, which would have been the only store affected by the proposed ban, had said it bought only from breeders who met USDA standards.
The closing of Petland has the potential to boost adoptions at the Town Lake Animal Center. Now that Austin has passed an ordinance that bans the practice of euthanizing healthy animals, we urge Austin residents to turn to the shelter as its first choice for getting the family pet. We also recommend other nonprofits, such as the Austin Humane Society or Austin Pets Alive, as good organizations from which to adopt dogs and cats.
Those who prefer to do business with working breeders would be wise to do their homework and buy from those that are affiliated with the American Kennel Club (AKC) so as to avoid puppy mills.
If the Austin council members approve a citywide ban on retail sales of dogs and cats, Austin would become the largest U.S. city to ban such sales, American-Statesman writer Claudia Grisales reported in story published in the July 18 editions. In doing so, Austin would join West Hollywood, Calif.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Lake Tahoe, Nev.; which have similar bans in place. El Paso and San Francisco also are considering bans, according to David Lundstedt, vice chairman of the animal advisory commission.
Passing such an ordinance is a good step in addressing the problems of puppy mills, often a source of dogs for retailers. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals defines a puppy mill as any “large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.”
Because the focus is on volume and the motive is profit, corners are cut. M.A. Crist of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Services at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine said the indiscriminate breeding that occurs at puppy mills makes animals more prone to hereditary health problems, which can include parvovirus, kennel cough, mange and fleas. Also, dirty, crowded kennels and other inhumane conditions create behavioral problems for puppies that aren’t well socialized, and pups removed from their mothers and littermates too early can develop to biting problems.
Again, we’re not celebrating the loss of a local business. Those employees have valuable skills, and we hope that Austin companies will hire them. But the animal shelter and nonprofit centers that care for stray and homeless dogs and cats are still open for business.