Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 Steps to Getting Puppy Mill Pet Stores Out of Your Neighborhood

While a puppy under the tree might seem festive this time of year, the industry that stocks stores like Petland is full of Scrooges.
Pet store puppies are mass-produced by commercial breeders (a.k.a. "puppy mills") who keep hundreds of dogs in cramped, unsanitary conditions, breeding the females over and over. Due to poor veterinary care and little to no socialization, that pet store puppy with the bow around its neck likely has a bunch of health and behavioral problems to unwrap after the holidays.

This cruelty isn't what people want for pets. More than 130,000 people have signed the petition on asking Petland — the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the U.S. — to stop supporting puppy mills and choose to offer pet adoptions instead.

Despite the huge public outcry, Petland is digging in, saying they hope to keep selling puppies for decades to come. They need to keep hearing from us so they know this decision will hurt their business.

Petland is built on franchises, which means your local Petland store is probably locally owned. That means individual Petland stores can choose to start changing the company's reputation of cruelty by cutting their ties with puppy mills, so taking action locally can have a big impact.

In Michigan, we only have one Petland left. My group, Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup of Southeast Michigan, has seen six pet stores close down since we started taking on the puppy mill business in our backyard.

Here are a few steps you can take to take on puppy mills in your neighborhood, whether they've come to town in the cages at Petland or at another pet shop:

1) Talk to the Store: Have a local citizen visit the store and speak with the owner or manager. I recommend bringing The Humane Society of the United States' Puppy Friendly Pet Store Pledge to help them become part of the movement trading in puppy sales for adoption programs. Follow-up on the visit with a phone call and a letter. Be polite and professional, and if they don't respond, at least you tried to reach out to them.

2) Start a Petition: Stores survive on consumer demand, and starting a petition is an easy way to start showing what consumers want. Check out the Tip & Guides to walk through starting your own petition.

3) Keep the Pressure On: There are a lot of ways to pressure a store, from holding an event like a rally or parade nearby, passing out literature on puppy mill cruelty to the store's neighbors, writing your local paper and news channels, and holding weekly protests. (Note: If you're going to protest at the store, remember to check with your city clerk and police department for any local ordinances that might apply.)

You can also hold a virtual protest, by spreading images like the pledges in this post via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, targeting the social media pages of the store in your area. (To download the images, just right-click and "save as.")

Want to join the virtual protest, but don't have a Petland in your area? You can start with these key stores.

Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup has been protesting at Michigan's last remaining Petland all season. We've seen an increasing interest from the media in what we're doing and have talked to dozens of would-be customers to educate them on the truth behind that puppy in the window.

You can help our campaign by signing our petition asking Petland Novi to stop supporting puppy mills. And if you're looking to add a pet to your home this holiday season, please adopt.

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