We have us a big problem.
For not the first time, a pet retailer has been accused of mistreating the animals in his care. This most recent occurrence happened in Paramus, N.J., a suburb of New York City, best known for being home to just about every retail operation known to man.
In this case, police found more than 60 live puppies locked in small crates in a van parked behind the store. Luckily, and amazingly, the cops heard the whimpers of the dogs, many of which were in crowded crates that were too small to allow them to stand, and many were covered with feces. It was about 35 degrees that night, and apparently a makeshift attempt to provide heat to the animals failed.
The owner is being charged with animal cruelty and, according to local newspapers, it is not his first time—in fact, he was reportedly caught doing similar things at several other retail locations he operates over the last few months.
So who loses when this guy—assuming that he’s guilty—gets caught? The answer, unfortunately, is the entire retail pet community. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch; and it seems like this guy, like some others across the country, is doing one hell of a job ruining it for the entire pet community.
Knowing the public’s affinity for pets, the media jumps all over these types of stories. They land on the front page of local newspapers and on local television show broadcasts. It becomes chatter around the water cooler at work and even the kitchen table at home. In every case, it gets people angry, and that anger can often be directed at the entire pet industry, not the few bad guys with a screw loose.
We all pay the price, whether that is the retailers who take great care of the pets in their care or the suppliers who sell to pet stores far and wide. A broad stroke is cast across our industry that gets consumers nervous and antsy about purchasing pets from pet stores and, in some cases, purchasing supplies from any retailer that sells live animals.
As an industry, we must fight against the few people who do not care about the animals in their charge. We must support logical laws that protect the public—and the animals—from these malcontents who are threatening to destroy our livelihood. In the end, eliminating these bad retailers will only serve to make the public more comfortable with the pet industry and more willing to spend their dollars at our stores.