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PAWS / Breaking the Silence
Pet Stores

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Puppy Mills

Pet shops use the natural appeal of puppies, kittens, and other animals to sell them at an inflated price, often several hundred dollars for "purebred" animals. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet shops, between 350,000 and 500,000 a year, are raised in "puppy mills," breeding kennels located mostly in the Midwest that are notorious for their cramped, crude, and filthy conditions and their continuous breeding of unhealthy and hard-to-socialize animals.(1) Other common problems in the pet shop industry include selling sick and injured animals to the public, failing to provide proper veterinary care, unsanitary conditions, and inhumane methods of killing sick and unwanted animals. You can help bring about changes in local pet stores, if you know what conditions to look for and what steps to take.

What to Look For

Healthy young animals are usually energetic and shiny-coated. Look for signs of ill health, such as listlessness, diarrhea, emaciation, dull coats, runny eyes, and dry noses. Sick animals should never be housed with healthy ones.

Check the general sanitation conditions; notice signs of cockroach infestation, rodent droppings on the floor, and rusty or dirty cages. Also look for algae or scum in water bottles, empty water containers, or animals having difficulty drinking from them.

Dogs must have water (it can be in a bottle), and there must be some sort of solid flooring (if a tray is used, it must be flat on the floor). There should be no more than one large dog in a single cage. Look for signs of distemper and parvovirus: runny stool and clogged, dry noses.

Cats should have an elevated surface (above the litter area) to rest upon. Water must be in a clean water dish rather than in a bottle. Also, watch for signs of upper respiratory disease (eyes covered with inner membrane, runny eyes and nose, and sneezing).

Rabbits should have a water bottle, not a dish. They should not be listless. If an animal is sick, you may notice other animals in the cage walking over him/her. Watch for runny noses and excessive sneezing.

Birds must have a properly sized perch (birds' feet should go three quarters of the way around the perch). Check for others beating up on one -- especially common in zebra finches (you may see feathers missing from head, back, etc.). A bird should not be resting on the bottom of the cage (a sign of illness or of having been thrown off the perch by others). Cages should not be overcrowded (use your judgment).

Check fish tanks for overcrowding. Generally, an inch-long tropical fish requires a minimum of 12 square inches of water surface to breathe comfortably; a two-inch fish needs at least 24 square inches of surface area, and so on. Look for dead fishes in aquariums.

WHAT YOU CAN DO :

* Report any abuse , neglect or illnessess to PAWS

* Don't support pet stores , only shop at supply stores that do not sell live animals.

* Protest pet shop cruelty , email PAWS for more information.

* Find out the link between Puppy mills and Pet stores.

* Adopt a shelter animal today!