Banning Legal Businesses: The Attack On Pet Stores Part 2

We often hear people say today that government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in business. But that’s exactly what’s happening with pet stores. Government is selecting which businesses are allowed to operate – and which will be destroyed based on a social agenda.

Instead of allowing consumers or the market to determine which businesses will flourish, governments are taking it upon themselves to make these decisions. Ideology in local government determines whether you can buy a fur coat in San Francisco (you can’t). It shoves Meatless Mondays (instigated by the Humane Society of the United States) on school children who need a healthy diet with good meat protein. Ideology even tries to tell people what kind of pet they can own.

Those pets chosen for us by local governments (and, if you live in California, by the state) bring us back to the subject of part 1 of this story. John Thompson is the owner of The Pawfect Puppy pet store in Franklin, Tennessee. Animal rights activists have recently brought a proposal to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that would require his store to stop selling purebred dogs from breeders. He would only be allowed to sell shelter pets from the nearby shelter. In part 1 we looked at some of the problems with this plan. In part 2 we’ll look at the reasons why pet stores are under attack and animal rights zealots are trying to eliminate legal businesses like The Pawfect Puppy.


When you see those pitiful commercials on television, pleading for $19/month from HSUS and ASPCA, they probably tug at your heart. They are supposed to. HSUS spent $70 million on fundraising in 2016 – over half of its budget. They should get effective commercials when they spend that kind of money.

There are plenty of good local shelters and rescues in the United States but there are also groups that care more about money than animals. Some of these groups, often helped by HSUS’s international partner, Humane Society International (HSI), are importing thousands of dogs into the country every year. These dogs come here with sad stories as “meat dogs” from Asia, Hurricane Harvey survivors from Puerto Rico, or as unwanted dogs from Mexico and other countries. Deceptive rescue groups raise lots of money from donations for these dogs and sell/”adopt” them for plenty of dollars to kind-hearted people who don’t realize these groups are retail rescues.

For these rescue groups and animal rights organizations such as HSUS and HSI, purebred dog breeders and pet stores like The Pawfect Puppy is competition. On one side you have groups trying to sell dogs with unknown backgrounds and unknown health histories. Puppies are scarce. Dogs are usually adults and can range in age from young adults to elderly dogs. Temperament can be questionable. In most cases, it’s important to give these dogs sad or at least exciting background stories to help them appeal to potential owners.

On the other side, you have pet stores that sell dogs from breeders. The dogs are sold as puppies which are highly desirable. They are pedigreed so their parentage is known. Their health history is known. Since they are purebred you automatically know a great deal about the breed from the start. You know how big the dog will be as an adult, what the temperament is likely to be, and their breed instincts. They come with guarantees from the store.

If you compare the dogs objectively, the dogs from the pet store should win every time, right? Yes, if you making a list of pros and cons, that’s true. And the price is not as different as you might think. Retail rescues charge a lot for those precious dogs they had to import from China or Turkey or other countries.

So, how can rescues compete with pet stores? First, they smear all dog breeders. They try to make people believe that breeders are the scum of the earth and raise dogs in horrible conditions. This is not true. Puppies sold in pet stores come from USDA-licensed and inspected breeders who must follow the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). You are more likely to see a news story today about a bad rescue busted for keeping dogs in poor conditions than you are to see a story about an unlicensed dog breeder.

Second, the groups that want to shut down pet stores and boost rescue sales go to local governments with proposals to ban pet stores. They usually find someone sympathetic in local government, convince them that all puppies come from horrible breeders and, “Gee, shouldn’t we be doing more to help rescue dogs?” Next thing you know, there’s a proposal being considered to ban pet stores in town or try to force them to sell only dogs from shelters and rescues.

It’s about choice

Whether you want to own a dog from a shelter, rescue, a pet store, or buy one directly from a breeder, it should be your choice. You can certainly find a great dog at your local shelter. You can also find great dogs in pet stores. The point is that local governments shouldn’t take this choice away from their citizens. They shouldn’t be promoting one kind of business – rescues and shelters – over another – pet stores. It’s not up to your local government to decide where you should get your dog or what kind of pet you should have. Pet stores are legal businesses. Breeding dogs is legal. The animal rights social agenda that is trying to vilify breeding dogs should not be endorsed by your local government. We all have the right to make our own decisions.


Carlotta Cooper is a vice president of Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance and contributing writer for The Cavalry Group. Follow The Cavalry Group on Twitter, @TheCavalryGroup, and Facebook.

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