Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do Pet Store Dogs Fill Shelters?

I've long suspected that people who pay a pretty penny for their pet are not likely to allow it to end up in an animal shelter. And, it turns out, there is a study that confirms this theory. A Las Vegas shelter collects data on their intakes. Here is an excerpt from an article written on the subject:

'Officials should focus on finding the origin of the animals that rescue groups, shelters and animal control agencies come in contact with, said Harold Vosko, co-founder of Las Vegas-based Heaven Can Wait Animal Sanctuary. Without accurate information on the source of the crisis, addressing it is impossible, he said.'

'Statistics collected over the past two years at Heaven Can Wait showed more than 85 percent of the animals came from a neighbor or friend’s litter, Vosko said. Fewer than 5 percent were from pet stores and no more than 1 percent or 2 percent were from professional breeders.'

Wow. Pretty sobering statistics.

'The Lied Animal Foundation, which operates the regional shelter, recently started asking people how they obtained their pets, said Jason Smith, who took over as director of operations about six weeks ago. The data will help Lied shape how it educates the community about responsible pet ownership.'

Wonderful! Actual problem-solving in action!

And, there are further thoughtful comments about mandated spay and neuter:

'The AKC has no problem with spaying and neutering pets, Sondej said, the concern is requiring it by a certain age. Some breeds are still growing into their second year, and early sterilization can lead to adverse physical effects, he said.'

'Michael Maddox, director of legislative affairs for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., said requiring animals to be sterilized before sale isn’t reasonable or in the animal’s best interest. Nor does it address the underlying problem. The “overwhelming majority” of pets in shelters come from sources other than pet stores, Maddox said.'

Good to know that there are some people out there who are interested enough to investigate and find out the truth about owner-surrendered animals and where they originate.


Here's another study. 3.9% of the shelter intakes originated at pet stores. Check out Table 2.


But then, that's not surprising, is it? Pet store puppies are just a small percentage of the market in the US.


  1. This is on my Voice Recorder, taken at the last L.A. County DACC public meeting, so excuse my paraphrases and poor memory of some of it.

    Question was asked if ANY of L.A.CO Breeder's dogs have entered DACC shelters.

    DACC Answer: I can not remember any.

    Question: How many purebred dogs are in the shelters?

    Answer: Not that many.

    Member from one of the attendees, who has run a s/n truck around the very rural n.e. desert area, L.A.County area for a few years:

    I VERY (her emphasis) to almost never see purebred dogs around the area, I see dogs that come from neighbors and are litters that are passed from neighbor to neighbor.

    Me: Pet Stores sell purebred or purposely bred mixed breed dogs, those dogs are not ending up in the AC facilities at any large rate.

    I've been reading supposition, facts without basis, and we should know better.

  2. They actually changed the city animal ordinance in El Paso, Texas, because 'people were going to buy puppies in pet stores and then breed them, and those puppies would end up in the shelter.' There was a Petland that sold puppies. Under the new changes, you cannot make a profit on a pup under a year old. This counts for rescue as well as breeders. You can only breed registered purebreds to another registered dog of the same breed as well. I don't know if this link will work right, but click on 'Title 7', then 'animal sales, breeding, and shows.'


    Here's the link for the El Paso Humane Society Petfinder listing:


    Lots of purebreds there. (Smell that? That's sarcasm.)

  3. The hatred for breeders is so misguided when you look at the actual reasons for pets being relinquished and the sources of those pets.

    I link to a few very interesting scientific studies that looked at the reason people relinquish and the source of dogs that are relinquished:



    and a few other posts.

    It was very eye opening to me. Solutions that don't address the actual cause of animals ending up in shelters are unlikely to be effective in bringing about change.

    And that's what we've seen. Blame owners and breeders and make it about dogma instead of the dogs, and you end up having to kill a lot of dogs needlessly. But they keep on doing it!

  4. Sad thing is that small, ethical breeders so internalize this breeder hatred that they are loathe to identify as pet breeders, lest they be accused of puppy milling and single-handedly filling shelters. The breeders that should ( if any one is going to ) be the ones breeding are so conflicted about their roles as pet breeders that the mark of a good" breeder has, paradoxically, become minimal breeding. Breeders one up each other with the number of litters they DON'T breed!
    Breeders striving to be one of the "good" ones are operating in a culture that provides validation and accolades primarily for dog show wins. Witness any " What is a Responsible Breeder?" list on the internet. This pushes breeders who take pride in their roles as ethical towards the only framework for validation that presently exists. It is "understood" both in the dog world and in the public domain that top accolades for dog breeders come from success in the show ring. "Selective pressure" then is for breeding stock that will win in the ring, not necessarily for those most suited to pet-hood. It's hard to fault a breeder for seeking those honors when no others exist that carry commensurate recognition of responsible breeder status. Notice what a media circus Westminster, Eukanuba and Crufts are.
    It can take a breeder many, many years ( if at all) to question that model of "reputable". Doing so often brings with it accusations of puppy milling, irresponsibility and certain ouster from the community. Many, otherwise gifted and committed breeders burn out before then.
    I think if we are to begin to step out of our comfort zones re: what is good breeding, there will need to be other significant, pride inducing, accolade bestowing goals. Small, hobby breeders are a motivated, energetic, dog loving bunch - but they are human and are just as interested in being recognized for their efforts and in being a valued part of a community as any one else is. I believe that professionalizing the work of pet breeding, retooling the reward system and educating the public about the benefits of working with small, local and qualified breeders is vital if the domestic dog is to thrive in it's new primary role as companion.
    If most pets came from educated breeders who screen and support their clients and provide a lifetime safety net ( should need be) to their animals, shelters would certainly be emptier.