We've all had the experience of seeing those supercute puppies and kittens in pet shop windows, and feeling the urge to take one home. You might have even bought one that way. Or you might think its cruel to keep them in shop windows to be pointed at and constantly be discturbed by window tapping and peering faces.
What is the real problem with pet shops?
There is another darker side to pets in pet shops though. Unfortunately many pets in pet shops are sourced from puppy factories or backyard breeders, who are breeding dogs purely for profit, with little regard for the quality, welfare or health of their produce except where it impacts the bottom line.
Because the pets are sold from a respectable pet shop, it can mask the true origin of these pets: often caged female dogs or cats subjected to litter after litter and little quality of life. This also means the puppies and kittens do not receive adequate socialisation or exercise so can suffer behavioral and health problems which would be avoided or detected in pets raised in a family home.
Alternatives to buying from a pet shop
How can you avoid supporting this trade if you are looking to buy a pet? Consider buying from one of many high quality animal shelters such as the RSPCA, YAPS (in Cairns) or other animal welfare organisations. The best of these will carefully screen pets for behavioral and health issues and help you choose a pet which suits your family, lifestyle and other needs.
If you really want a purebred pet, insist on visiting the pups and getting to know the breeder and their dogs or cats. This will help you choose with confidence and also alert you to any suspicious problems. Reputable breeders encourage you to visit: they want to screen you too! Puppy farmers just want the payment.
If you do buy a pet from a pet shop, breeder or shelter be sure to get a health check with your local vet to pick up common problems.