'Twas the season for holiday pets (and now it's the vet's turn)
Every year I like to offer a rundown of my holiday nightmare cases. Usually, these are the pups purchased in pet stores. With their…
…unrelenting coughs, watery eyes, sniffly noses, undescended testicles, whopping umbilical hernias, honking heart murmurs, popping knees, crunching hips, stunted sizes, abnormal dentition and full-on pneumonia…
…these pups make me cringe with their crises and get me hopping mad at the injustice perpetrated against them and their (typically) first-time puppy owners.
In case you’re wondering who in the heck would buy a sick pup, I’ve also got a short list of reasons why pups manage to make it home from the pet shops.
1-First-time pet owners (or those who haven’t had a pet in many years): This group of individuals is more likely to be unaware of how pets should be purchased or the benefits of adoption. They buy at pet shops thinking this is the way everyone does it, not knowing the risks they face.
2-The rescuers: This group sees a puppy in the window and wonders why he looks so sad. Sometimes he’s sick. Sometimes he’s just depressed. Either way, the puppy finds its way home with the “rescuer,” in spite of his potential illness.
A full 50% of my pet shop clients claim to fit into this category. Know what that means? More pet shops hawking defective wares knowing someone will take them home out of pity and misplaced good deed-ism. It’s an ugly and vicious circle. But I rarely have the heart to tell these owners how their “good deed” contributes to more suffering than they’re relieving.
3-The expediency experts: Last-minute shoppers tend to shop pet shops first. Why not? There’s one on every corner and the exact breed your kids are clamoring for is likely to be represented. Not there? The shop will find you one within 24 hours. Promise.
This year I’ve seen all the problems on my first list except the honking heart murmur. Lucky me. It seems heart murmurs are either killing them off earlier or falling out of fashion. I don’t know which alternative is worse.
The worst case is a pair of distemper pups—“mini” Schnauzers, “littermates.” But one of the pair is twice the size of the other and has significantly more fluid in her lungs. I suspect she’s not long for this world. But her owner still paid full price—some $800 for what was marketed as a “teacup Schnauzer varietal.” (Puh-lease.)
The majority of my clients only buy from pet shops only once, though I do have some kooky rescuers who insist on “saving” pet shop pets serially. You’d think they’d learn to save shelter pets instead but there’s no talking to some people.
Thankfully, however, the first time is usually enough for most. They’re so angry at the establishments for their treason and inhumanity that I’ve taken to downloading Better business Bureau and Florida Department of Agriculture forms so they can lodge their complaints immediately.
Despite my efforts, what I do affects the retail pet-purveying industry minimally. For all the ways there are to complain, there are far more channels through which to raise, transport and sell sick pets. I know this for sure because every year I see more and more of the same.