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Why support a ban on selling puppies in Pet Shops?
Although there are numerous moral and ethical issues involved in puppy farming there are three major issues that would be addressed by a ban on the sale of puppies from pet shops and third party agencies.
The first issue is the Animal welfare aspect.
In order to facilitate the product of this trade to be available for sale in these outlets at the optimum age for the public to purchase, the puppies have to be transported and stored at an age when they really should remain with their mothers and siblings.
The undue stress placed upon these young animals often causes health problems/trauma as a result of exposure to disease, weakening of their immune system and physical shock induced by being handled and transported while their bodies are fragile and their digestive systems are still adapting from milk to solid diet
The premature removal of young animals from their natural family group, the lack of human socialisation at this early age and the confusion and fear induced by their transit to new and alien environments contributes towards behavioural issues they should not normally suffer from.
In short, the very logistics and methodology of carrying out this trade results in these animals suffering needlessly. Such suffering cannot be avoided under these conditions but will not occur if a puppy remains with its siblings and parents until 8 to 10 weeks of age, is naturally weaned, properly handled and vaccinated and is then passed directly by its breeder to its new owner without involving the pet shop.
The second issue is the resultant quality of the puppies provided by these outlets to their customers.
It is important that a domestic companion animal, bred and intended for that purpose and supplied and sold for that purpose, is fit for the purpose for which it is intended.
Fit for purpose should imply that an animal is healthy and has been handled in such a way as to promote and encourage good health and is additionally temperamentally suited for the purpose for which it is being offered.
On the understanding that an animal is intended to be a companion and live its life in a family environment alongside humans, it is important that it begins its life being properly socialised and conditioned for such a lifestyle. The first 8 weeks of a young puppies life is crucially important and the lessons it learns and the social conditioning it picks up during this time will fashion its behaviour for life. Mass commercial breeding, early transportation and the less intimate handling such animals experience in this trade are not conducive to balanced socialisation.
Furthermore, mass commercial breeding cannot be an exact science and if the breeding establishment is to maximise profits there is the ever present problem in that the profit interest will supersede good breeding practices resulting in some inherent genetic abnormalities which can later affect behaviour and health as the animal matures.
Many puppies sold by pet shops are not fit for purpose in that they have inherent and/or conditioned health and socialisation problems they would not have suffered from if handled differently and would not have occurred if the puppy had remained with its siblings and parents until 8 to 10 weeks of age, had been naturally weaned, properly handled and vaccinated and had then been passed directly by its breeder to its new owner without involving a middle man.
A final aspect of this issue is the effect that the purchase of a sick or socially deprived pet has on the purchaser bearing in mind that many such pets are acquired specifically to be companions to families with children.
Other than the prospect of being sold a product that is 'faulty' and losing their money, they too will suffer pain and distress if their puppy becomes ill or develops behavioural problems they cannot understand or account for. They will often feel guilt and a sense of failure.
Retailers will often play upon this to create doubt and avoid responsibility and restitution.
If the animal had been a domestic appliance and become faulty or broken retail trading protection laws would protect the consumer, mechanical faults being simple to allocate responsibility for
Such protection is hard to apply to a living creature with the result that, in spite of existing legislation designed to protect consumers, many retailers and breeders are able to get away with flouting their duty of care and simply avoid the consequences.
Perhaps, in some cases, a customer will get their money back as the trade builds in costing to account for losses, but even then they cannot be compensated for the upset this would cause to them, their families and in particular their children if their new pet dies or needs to be re-homed.
Again, in short, the very logistics and methodology of carrying out this trade results in the people who purchase these animals being offered a substandard product, often not fit for purpose.
The third issue is the effect this form of trading animals has on the general economy.
The economic fallout from this trade is worthy of consideration. A large number of these animals will end up being unwanted for a variety of reasons. Some because of issues caused by their enforced participation in the trade, some because they are sold to people who are really not in the position to offer them the life they need.
This trade makes it too easy for them to end up in unsuitable homes or with unsuitable owners.
Hence a high proportion ending up in pounds and rescues or simply being disposed of by their owners by humane or inhumane means.
The general public inevitably picks up the bill for this fallout though taxation required to run overburdened animal control services, dog wardens service, pounds Etc. or by voluntary donation and support given to charities and non profits who handle their proportion of the casualties. In effect everyone pays and those who purchase substandard animals pay twice.
In one simple move, by banning the sale of puppies though pet shops, resources can be saved or freed to address other animal welfare issues. It is simply immoral that a commercial trade should be in a position to profit at cost to taxpayers and charities, who are obliged to clear up the mess they are making.
There is a further economic aspect to this argument in that although rescue organisations should not be competing with retailers to place animals in homes, it is inevitable in a free market economy, where supply outstrips demand that such competition will arise.
A reduction in supply may benefit re-homing centres by a greater take up of homeless pets by members of the public, but a still greater benefit would be a lower demand for them to take in unwanted animals as a major source of poorly bred and poorly socialised animals would be deprived of its main outlets and consequently fewer animals would be rejected by their owners.
On the simple basis that it is a fact that more companion animals are being bred than there are homes for, we can see sense in the argument that there is no reason to sell, en-mass, animals bred specifically for sale, when there are so many animals already looking for homes in rescue centres and pounds worldwide.
People should only be able to purchase puppies directly from the breeder.
It is, and has always been, our view that companion animals should be provided to the public directly by those responsible for breeding them and that there should be no third party involved or profiteering from such sales.
A breeder should not be able to hide behind these outlets, remaining anonymous. They should operate openly. Breeders have a duty of care to the animals and a duty of care to the public. They should be transparent and accountable for their practices to the public they supply and there should be a personal touch in such trade.
Banning the sale of puppies in pet shops and though agents would oblige the public to source from breeders directly. An advantage to breeders would be additional profit they achieve by cutting out the middle man, thus enabling them to provide better facilities and higher standards of care for the animals they breed.
Bringing breeders into direct public contact and under public scrutiny should increase competition between them to provide a better service. It will make it more difficult for them to hide discrepancies and increase the opportunity for those with low standards or those operating unlawfully to be brought to task.
In all, such a move should improve the trade for both the animals involved and for the consumer.
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Border Collie Rescue is a UK based charity, working Internationally to Rescue and Re-home Border Collies and Working Sheepdogs and promote a better understanding of the breed and its Welfare.
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