Tinkering around is just that, tinkering
Members of the Pet Industry Federation include big names in the pet business, names like Pets at Home, who, do not sell puppies or kittens, as they are keen to tell everyone, and I’m happy to share that message. They “never have and never will” – and just in case you’re wondering, I have never said they do. The never have and never will message is the one Pets At Home tell people who ask them why they don’t join calls for an outright ban on other shops doing so. This would suggest they feel strongly that it’s not really ok to do so. But, they can’t quite bring themselves to unequivocally call, loud and clear for ALL shops to stop doing what they never have and never will. They don’t believe that supporting calls to end shops selling puppies and kittens will make any difference. They released a statement a little while back:
“The reality, confirmed in our extensive customer survey, is only one per cent of puppies are bought from local pet shops so to us, it was clear banning the sale of puppies via pet shops alone is unlikely to have any significant impact on puppy farming or unlicensed breeding or imports.”
My view is that any difference is better than no difference, and certainly if you’re a breeding dog, stuck in a dirty, puppy farm sloshing around in your own filth for years on end forced to supply the pet shop trade. You can read more on their position here
Their attitude is contrary to all the leading animal welfare and interest organisations: RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, Dog Rescue Federation, Dog Advisory Council, The Kennel Club, all call for an outright ban on the sale of puppies from retail premises. Anyone who cares about dogs, knows that not only is a retail environment an impossible one for the needs of puppies to be met in their critical developmental stages, but animals are not, and should never been regarded as simple commodities to be sold conveniently.
So, although Pets At Home don’t, and “never will” sell puppies from their stores, they are influential members of the Pet Industry Federation, the trade body that does think it’s ok for shops to sell puppies and kittens – which Pets At Home don’t do (just in case there’s any doubt). Now, knowing they don’t – and never will – I would so like to see this major retailer, use their clout within their trade body to persuade others of their view. If only they called loud and clear for ALL shops to stop selling puppies and kittens that would be a major boost to the campaign to bring the law in line with what an awfully big proportion of the general public already think is the case: that shops don’t sell puppies. Yes they do, and with endorsement and support from their trade body, the Pet Industry Federation.
The PIF does at least recognise there are “problems that sadly continue to exist in the marketplace” of selling puppies. I take small comfort from their recognition. Could the increasing public pressure and social media awareness be helping them recognise it I wonder?
They have announced an audit to “ensure high standards of puppy selling in pet shops”
All this of course entirely ignores the fact that all leading welfare campaigners say puppies should be not be sold in pet shops, whatever standards the PIF think they are achieving will never escape the fact the puppies are in an unsuitable environment, away from their mothers. Mothers incidentally, left behind in puppy farms to be bred from again. And again. Their entire, miserable lives.
Nigel Baker, chief executive of the PIF says this audit “is an enormous step forward in the debate about puppy sales,” – I disagree. I’ll use Mr Baker’s hyperbole, an “enormous step”, would be the PIF bans its members from selling puppies and kittens. End of problem. Simple.
You can read details for yourself and make up your own mind here but in a nutshell, the tinkering masquerading as an “enormous step” will include:
“the systematic checking and cross-checking of paperwork, premises and puppies in order to ensure puppies are:
at least eight weeks old or over
are only sourced from licensed UK-only breeders
are microchipped, vaccinated, flea-ed and wormed.
Other welfare requirements include:
guarding against impulse buying by including an enforced three-day wait between viewing a puppy and
interviewing the new owner regarding their knowledge, resources and responsibilities
adherence a puppy sale contract”.
None of this is mind-blowingly radical, in fact it’s what any decent breeder of puppies does as a basic minimum. None of this will make the slightest difference to the parent breeding dogs kept in the commercial breeding places to supply the shops. Places that are probably legally licensed but still horrible for the dogs. A licensed puppy farm, is still a damn miserable place for a dog to be. Don’t be deluded by anyone that tries to paint it any better than that.
Of course, this tinkering around, that the PIF is proud to announce, could all be made a lot more meaningful if they just stopped their members from selling puppies and kittens in shops. Stopped it. Now. End of puppies in pet-shop problem. It’s so simple to those of us who look beyond the nonsense fiddling around the edges and can see the reality.
Which is, that behind the puppies in the shops, however much of an audit the PIF want to put in place, lie parent dogs, stuck in miserable places to supply those shops with stock. It’s still horrible, however it gets tinkered with and we are not being fooled.