THE TRUTH: I used to work in a store that sold puppies …

/ Published in The NEW Issue, Written by Anonymous

I can remember how excited I was when I got a job at a pet store. Like most, I thought it would be so fun—playing with puppies all day! It didn’t take long to realize it’s not fun at all, but extremely heartbreaking. Almost every single puppy that came through the store suffered from a respiratory illness at least once while it was there. Many came in already sick from being on a truck with hundreds of other puppies in filthy conditions with little food or fresh water until they got to their destination. These tiny beings would have so much poop stuck to their little behinds and all of the lighter colored ones would have urine stains.

We were taught to tell people about the loving responsible breeders that we were getting our puppies from. We never saw the actual parents of these pups, and even when we got them locally they would usually be covered in fleas and full of worms at the very least. There was the man who would bring tiny sick pups to us covered in burns from the generator outside his trailer. The couple who brought in Chihuahuas that had deformed legs that we’d send back and tell her not to breed them and we knew she would if she didn’t sell them.

Then there was the mange that would flare up so bad from these babies being so stressed that their eyes would swell shut, and the smell of parvovirus that would make us all scared to go home and touch our own dogs before we scrubbed ourselves.

I know this first hand, because I’ve experienced it behind the scenes—pet stores don’t make a profit off of well-bred dogs and that’s the bottom line. They get cheap puppies they can mark up and market as designer breeds because purebred dogs that are registered and have health testing done aren’t cheap. One little pup was returned to us because she needed a surgery for something that was missed when she went to the vet for her health certificate. The family couldn’t afford it and the store owner wouldn’t help pay for it but happily gave them another puppy because that was much cheaper and easier. I can remember we all wanted to steal her while she sat waiting for the company that she was purchased from to come pick her up. She was surely either euthanized or used to breed instead of living a healthy life with a loving family. That wasn’t the only instance that happened, just the first I had to see. My heart broke for every one that sat in those little containers and didn’t get a home right away—months of not getting to run and play and be loved by a family. I didn’t want to think about what the parents of all these dogs were enduring because it had to be so much worse. We’ve seen the hoarding cases over and over on the news. It’s easy to justify buying the cute puppy from the store when they all just need a home though, right? •

A note from the publisher: Be Better
^^ I so appreciate the former puppy store employee writing that article. Many places make their employees sign a non-disclosure agreement so they’re afraid to tell people what they’ve seen, but it’s important to have all the correct information when making decisions.
I’m sure you’re a lovely person who regularly crouches down to pet dogs, and doesn’t knowingly want to support any kind of cycle of suffering. You might not yet know that responsible breeders would never sell their puppies to stores or to the first person who shows up with cash—they have a process to keep their puppies healthy and safe. But … NOW YOU KNOW, my dear. Too often, a kind person like yourself unwittingly ends up buying a puppy mill pup. True, it’s hard to tell the difference, as they’re the same level of cute as other puppies, and when the store clerk tells you it came from a “good” place (and may have papers to make it look like they do)—why wouldn’t you believe them? According to the Humane Society of the United States “Most pet stores do not disclose the true origins of their puppies, instead using deceptive sales pitches about ‘USDA licensed’ or ‘professional’ breeders.”

I, of course, always encourage people to adopt—it’s the best! You can find pure-bred dogs and puppies in shelters and rescues, but maybe you don’t really need a purebred? There are major benefits to having a mixed breed.
If you’ve checked shelters and rescue groups and still haven’t found the right pup, you should ask for referrals from your veterinarian, or contact local breed clubs. Always always visit where the puppy is born and raised. Personally go to a breeder’s facility before committing to a puppy—don’t rely on website or emailed photographs. Take the time now to find the right breeder and you’ll thank yourself for the rest of your dog’s life.

What happens if you go ahead and buy that store puppy? Several things: You create a demand for more. You become part of an inhumane cycle of greed. Many other dogs suffer in puppy mills across the United States and in hands of backyard breeders. We have to speak with our wallets—this is NOT OKAY. Please think beyond the cute factor, be strong, and be better. Walk away. •

Download The Humane Society’s “How to Identify a Responsible Breeder” Guide

Adopting Acorn

/ As seen in the TRIPPIN’ issue

Editor’s note: We recently received a message from a proud mama that thrilled us:
Dear Unleash, Beatrice is a reader of your magazine, and we recently ordered four back issues for her to dive into. She always has at least one Unleash Magazine with her for reading at restaurants, in the car, or wherever there might be a quiet moment. For years she has collected photos of animals in need of adoption, and she is so proud to now be the mommy to her first ever rescue pet! Acorn came from a hoarder home with 50 cats and 30 dogs, we are working to socialize him to his new life where everything is brand new to him … I wanted to share with you the appreciation my daughter has for your magazine.

WOW! What an amazing kiddo! We greatly appreciate Beatrice’s love for animals, commitment to adoption, and affinity for Unleash! We had to hear more about her newly adopted dog …

 

/ By Beatrice, Age 10
Acorn is our newly adopted dog, we got him from S.A.F.E Pet Rescue in St. Augustine on July 10. He is a Jack Russell-mix that is around one year old. We adopted him because he was the only dog at the shelter that would let us pet him, and he was playing with the other dogs in his run instead of barking at us. He seemed happy and calm, so we brought him home as a foster and then a few days later we decided to adopt him. Acorn is surprisingly mellow for a Jack Russell Terrier. Among his favorite things are sleeping, playing, and bone chewing. I enjoy training Acorn, walking him, playing and cuddling with him. In just two months, he has learned sit, lay down, wait, sit pretty, crawl, and roll over! Together we play fetch and frisbee, one time I was playing fetch with him and he was trying to go after the ball at the same time he had another ball in his mouth. We are still working on him catching the frisbee in his mouth.

When we first brought him home from the shelter, he was afraid of the slightest things, like a grocery bag, blinds suddenly opening, palm fronds swaying in the yard, trash cans on trash day, his own shadow and reflection, and some new people. Since bringing him home, almost all of these fears have diminished. When he first meets new people I have to ask them not to reach down and pet him at first because he is handshy. Once he has the chance to sniff feet and feel secure he is much more willing to be petted. This has taught me that some dogs are shy when they first meet new people and not to go straight down and pet them and to always ask before petting a dog.

Recently, we took Acorn to North Carolina and he loved it. He was climbing on the rocks like a mountain goat. He enjoyed hiking and if we tried to turn around on a hike Acorn would just stand there and look at us like, please let me keep hiking. It was so cute! Acorn was so good during the car ride to North Carolina—he didn’t whine, whimper, or bark on any of the long car rides.

Having Acorn in my life has made everything better by a vigintillion. I think if Acorn could talk he would say the same. •

The day we met Acorn
Acorn’s first trip to the beach
The happy day we brought Acorn home

Houndfest by the Sea

ho can resist a smile when watching hounds enjoying some quality beach time??

We will have adoptable hounds just waiting to meet you at our Houndfest by the Sea on August 24, 2019 from 11am-3pm!

Clear the Shelters Jacksonville

Join us for a free adoption weekend as we aim to CLEAR THE SHELTERS in Jacksonville. Come to PetSmart in Regency and meet over 100 dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies looking for homes. This is a national movement to promote pet adoption – don’t miss it.

ADOPTIONS ARE FREE! *

Three Locations:

PetSmart
356 Monument Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

The Jacksonville Humane Society
8464 Beach Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32216

Animal Care & Protective Services
2020 Forest Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204

This event is made possible from a generous grant from PetSmart Charities.

*Additional fees may apply.

Click here For more info

FOJA June Pet Adoption Event

Pet adoption event partnership with FOJA, Beaches shelters, and Pet Supermarket.

Occurs the second Saturday of every 1 month(s) effective 1/12/2019 until 12/14/2019 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM