This year, California will ban the selling of pets in pet shops. The belief behind this legislation is that with the over population of pets in our shelters, pet shops should not be adding to the problem by selling animals that they obtain from puppy mills and backyard breeders. The problem that they create by enacting these laws is that they fail to serve people wanting designer pets.
Sure, animal shelters have designer pets following a puppy mill bust or an out of control backyard breeder, but those animals go quickly and the animal shelter is back to having only (mostly) pit bulls available for adoption. Not everyone wants a pit bull.
Twenty years ago, we were approached by a pet shop owner who wanted to stop buying animals from puppy mills and asked if our animal shelter would become his supplier. It was very innovated thinking and I am not sure that, at that time, we were prepared to make that decision.
In our business, we have become so arrogant in thinking that only through our grueling adoption process will we make the perfect placement. During my career, the animal welfare movement has undergone several cycles that questioned the effectiveness of our adoption processes. Many “innovated” shelters reported that their adoption return rate was unchanged when they relaxed their adoption policies. Although they don’t want to admit it, their adoptions became no different than those of a pet shop.
Animal Shelters only hold the high ground because they largely try to adopt animals that are not widely sought after. They would be wise to increase their placements by getting past their arrogance and do what is right for the animals. The shelters in California have a wonderful opportunity before them; they might consider making the pet shops their adoption partners.