The MSPCA-Angell believes that the decision to acquire a pet is one that should be reached only after careful consideration is given to the commitment required to properly care for the animal.
The MSPCA-Angell further believes that the “commercialization” of certain breeds and species by pet shops has caused suffering due to overbreeding and the inhumane methods used to raise, capture, and/or transport these animals in order to meet retail outlets’ demand for low-cost animals.
For example, regulation and enforcement of commercial dog breeders (often referred to as “puppy mills”), from which pet shops usually source their animals, is minimal. Current USDA standards allow commercial dog breeders to keep the animals in cramped, stacked, wire cages only six inches larger than the size of each dog for their entire lives. Furthermore, it is not required for dogs to be regularly let outside of their cages for exercise, and it does not mandate socialization. Inhumane practices have also been documented for other species, including small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and reptiles, that are often considered to be less valued and therefore, disposable.
A responsible breeder will not sell to pet shops and will want to meet the families to whom they intend to sell their animals. The MSPCA-Angell offers information to help families better identify responsible sources for obtaining a pet.
Because most retail pet stores rely heavily on impulse buying, they are often either incapable of or unwilling to undertake programs that adequately screen prospective buyers to ensure that the needs of the animals are being met. Additionally, sellers often fail to ensure adequate veterinary care and they usually lack knowledge about proper animal care. The MSPCA-Angell opposes the sale of all animals from these outlets.
Therefore, as long as the sale of animals in retail pet stores is allowable under the law, the MSPCA-Angell will:
- respond to and investigate reported violations of the cruelty law and report regulatory violations to the Division of Animal Health within the Department of Agricultural Resources.
- work to improve the regulations governing pet shops and strengthen the enforcement of these regulations by the Division of Animal Health within the Department of Agricultural Resources.
- seek to educate the public about the problems associated with the sale of animals from pet shops and discourage them from buying animals from these retail outlets.
- advocate prohibitions on the commercial sale of animals by pet shops.
- encourage partnerships between animal shelters and rescues and pet shops to promote the adoption of homeless animals.
- promote local animal shelters, humane societies, or reputable breeders as appropriate sources of companion animals for acquisition by responsible individuals.
- advocate for adequate funding and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates and enforces, through the USDA, large scale commercial breeders of warm-blooded animals, as well as for the transparency of enforcement actions.