Unleashing the dark secret of pet stores

May 7, 2019


Having pets can be quite an amazing thing, they teach us responsibility, they can be our companions and can be a lot of fun to be around.


When you think of pets you probably think about man’s best friend the dog or cats the felines that have lived alongside us since ancient Egypt, but there are far more options out their for perspective pet owners. 


According to the American Pet Products Association up to 34.3 million Americans have some sort of small pet whether they be fish, reptiles, birds or even exotic animals.


When you walk into a pet store you may find a lot of these creatures as options for a new pet, and you would assume that because they are housing them and selling them that they know the proper way to care for these animals, but unfortunately this isn’t usually the case. 



There is a dark side to pet stores many people don’t know about outside the well documented horrors of puppy-mills, a side filled with neglect, death and misinformation. Most pet stores are run by relatively young employees that are put in charge of a large number of animals, making it difficult for them to be perfectly attentive to all of them. 


Because of this, illnesses or other complications often go unnoticed until it’s too late, animals like birds and rodents often die and are hidden away before any potential customers can see. Other times sick animals are sold and simply die in the care of inexperienced pet owners. 


It isn’t like owners of pet stores are aware of these issues, most big box stores offer some sort of return policy if your new pet passes soon after purchase, it often seems like its cheaper for them to hand you a brand-new hamster rather than implement better care practices.


Another big issue of contention especially among fish keepers is the Siamese fighting fish or the betta fish, they are the colorful fish with long flowing find you often find crammed into small cups and sitting on shelves. 


While they may look delicate betta-fish are actually quite hearty which is why they can survive in these conditions, but they are far from ideal. Unfortunately, the neglect of betta-fish doesn’t usually end once they are purchased. 


These fish are often kept in small containers from vases to specialized fish-bowls with colorful lights, a lot of time these containers hold less than a gallon of water, have no filtration systems and can become stagnant quite easily. 


All of this leads to a short life-span for a fish that can live up to five years. Betta-fish aren’t alone when it comes to not being in proper housing, pet stores sell cages or enclosures for birds and rodents that are far too small, and many times new pet owners don’t know any better. 


They believe that the establishment they are going to has their pets’ interest in mind, so they will buy their products with full faith that they are giving their new friend the best life possible. These are just some of the issues that happen with more common pets, even more complex issues arise when it comes to exotic animals. 


In the recent years exotic pets have become increasingly popular, people are keeping creatures like leopard geckos, tree frogs and sugar gliders. The problem with these exotic animals if that they have unique needs and require specialized care, something many pet store employees are heavily misinformed on. 


Even today you can walk into any chain pet store and see a gecko in a small desert like tanks filled with sand rather than simulating the rocky grasslands that makes up their natural habitat. You may think that your making a better choice by buying your pets at the local mom and pop exotic pet store but in many cases, they aren’t as innocent as you might think.


Exotic pet stores are usually pushed by customers to offer strange and unique animals. Often these exotic pets are difficult to breed so many suppliers take animals directly from the wild and offer them for sale. 


This can be a traumatic experience for an animal, some stores don’t know how to care for rare animals with unique needs and it is not uncommon for them to fall into poor health after time in captivity. The subject of what goes on in pet stores is far to complicated to be able to address them all in one article, but as pet owners there are a few things you can do to help improve things. 


Pet stores are a business, so they are going to keep offering products and animals that make them money. If people keep buying betta fish and critter keepers, they will stay on store shelves, but you can change that.


 When looking for a new pet avoid buy from pet stores by searching for reputable breeders and do your research, that way together we can show pet store companies that proper pet care is more important than money.


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