Finished reading Confessions of a Pet Store Employee. The blog recounts some of the day-to-day events in the working life of an employee of an unnamed pet store that sells animals, including dogs. Dogs are the main focus of the blog, since the author, ‘K9Trainer’, was the kennel manager of the store.
Blog entries are dated from January 2010 to December 2011. Blog posts include stories about some of the pets, weird customers and thoughts on the motives of people who buy dogs from pet stores. One blog post goes over the pet store’s warranty for puppies.
I found the blog interesting and well-written – K9Trainer knows how to spell and how to form a coherent paragraph. Blog posts were thought-provoking. The comments on each post were few, but they often expanded on the discussion started by the blog post, so I found them also worth reading.
Despite the readability of the blog and the interest I felt in K9Trainer’s life with dogs, I can’t say that the blog changed my opinion on pet stores that sell animals.
I think that selling dogs in pet stores promotes irresponsible breeding and cruelty and no matter how nice the owners are and how much they like dogs. Choosing to buy puppies from puppy mills for resale does not help them. ‘K9Trainer’s’ boss may have been a ‘softee‘, but he was still supporting an industry that thrives on breeding genetically unhealthy animals for sale to people who aren’t screened and not refused a dog if they are clearly unsuitable for dog ownership.
Reading this blog did raise my hackles up considerably – I appreciated K9Trainer’s candour (and that of the other blog contributor, ‘SaintTawny’, but the little bits of information that I got from the blog posts about where the dogs come from and their eventual fates made me very uncomfortable. There was the Dane that was sold to ‘a really distasteful customer‘ (who fortunately returned him), the Puggle sold to a clearly unsuitable person (who also fortunately returned him) and the lies that K9Trainer has told to dissuade unsuitable potential dog owners from buying dogs.
The line that K9Trainer walked to provide the pet store dogs with the best care and find them the best owners seemed extremely fine. K9Trainer did not appear to have much control over where the dogs went or a veto if someone who was not suitable for dog ownership wanted to buy one.
It bothered me that on one hand, K9Trainer seemed to feel that it was okay for the pet store to buy dogs from puppy mills and sell them to owners who may or may not be suitable, but on the other, K9Trainer clearly gives a damn about the dogs and wants the best for them. My feelings while reading the blog were that I did not understand how someone could care about dogs so much – and it seems clear that this person does – and still be able to work in an environment that contributes to canine suffering (whether from being used as puppy production in puppy mills, the pain from debilitating genetic conditions or from owner mismanagement).
Even the ‘good’ breeders didn’t seem that great to me. One breeder apparently came in every day to see his Beagle puppies in the store – if he was concerned enough to drive across the state to do this, why didn’t he sell them himself and screen the owners himself? K9Trainer says of the pet store owner, “It’s hard to be mad at compassion” when describing his taking in of dogs and litters that would otherwise be abandoned and selling them ‘at cost’ (the cost of bringing them to sale condition essentially negates any profit from the sale). However, I see no indication that he realizes that his purchase of puppy mill and ‘backyard bred’ puppies is contributing to the suffering that he appears to be eager to alleviate.
At some points in this blog, comparisons with the pet store and rescues come up – often to rescue’s detriment. Here, I believe that K9Trainer has a good point – many rescues are very exacting in their requirements for dogs, don’t screen prospective owners properly and some even are just profit driven. When otherwise good owners are turned away solely because they don’t have a fenced yard, there’s something wrong. However, I don’t believe that the fact that some rescues are too strict, poorly and/or unethically run means that pet stores are somehow doing something ‘right’ by providing badly bred puppies to ignorant buyers.
In conclusion, I urge TMS readers to check out this blog. It is certainly worth reading and provides a ‘behind the scenes’ look at some of the pet store activities behind that puppy in the window. K9Trainer appears to be a person who cares about dogs and is moving on to better things in the vet office that treats the pet store puppies. The blog seems to be on hiatus for now, but it has experienced gaps between posts before, so you might see more from this writer in the future.