Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Suffering pets

Household pets may look innocent and happy enough in the pet shop, but the way they're bred can mean appalling cruelty. So San Francisco has decided to ban the buying and selling of pets.

Originally the ban was intended only for cats and dogs, but then it was extended to cover all kinds of pets. So now, whether it's a snake, a lizard, a hamster or a parrot, you won't be able to buy it. Though you'll still be able to get a pet from a rescue centre or shelter or take in an unwanted kitten from your cat-owning friend.

It seems big pet-breeding companies often keep animals in dreadful conditions more like battery farms. There can be overcrowded living quarters, lack of contact with other animals, over-breeding, inbreeding, poor veterinary care, low-quality food.

People buying a pet are unlikely to know how it was treated before it came into the pet shop. If they did, they might well be horrified. It goes far beyond the occasional neglect and maltreatment of pets by their owners that is more likely to make media headlines.

I'm all in favour of the ban. I've never owned a pet myself (partly because I'm not sure I'd look after it properly) but as a vegetarian I hate to think of all those millions of potential pets suffering at the hands of profit-hungry breeders. That sort of misery in an animal's early life can lead to a stack of behaviour problems later on, including vicious attacks on human beings.

It's awful that profit comes into the provision of domestic pets at all. They should be bred out of the simple love of animals and for the pleasure and company they give to their owners. But profit gets its sticky fingers on everything, and I suppose we all have to make a living somehow.

It makes me wonder about the past history of Mac, the black Scotty we had when I was a child. He was always extremely neurotic and jumpy, probably as a result of callous handling before we acquired him (not exactly helped by my father's impatience and irrascibility). If only he could have told us about his earlier life!

22 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh this for profit industry is heartbreaking but then so much of for profit is. So demeaning and abusive. Especially with so many rescues out there. Mine is a rescue and the most amazing dog I've ever had and I've never patronized a pet shop for all the animals we've had over the years. The humane society are desperate for adoptions.
XO
WWW

Baino said...

Yep puppy farms are still around here. I actually bought Lily from a pet shop, not for any other reason that I couldn't find what I wanted from a breeder at that time of year but I wouldn't do it again. Not an industry I support. Plus a lot of exotics are smuggled out of the country, you'd be surprised what customs find in people's suitcases, everything from cockatoo eggs to turtles.

Nick said...

www - Good that you've always gone to rescue centres rather than pet shops. If there's a desperate need for adoptions, then why go to a pet shop anyway?

Nick said...

Baino - Ah yes, the animal-smuggling business is another issue again. If they're unusual animals, they probably won't be looked after properly by the buyer.

nursemyra said...

My parrot was found on the road with a broken wing. Most of my animal owning friends have rescue cats or pound dogs. I don't know anyone who has purchased an animal from a pet shop. Then again, there must be some that are above board and that treat their kittens and puppies with love

Nick said...

Myra - Your friends are obviously conscientious about where they get their pets from. Good for them. Yes, there must be some principled pet shops and breeders, who unfortunately will be penalised because of the bad apples.

Mr VeryVeryBored said...

Uncle Sam can be surprising sometimes. I know it is San Fransisco rather than Kentucky, but you wouldn't expect the home of the free market to enact a ban like this. Things must have got pretty out of hand for this decision to have been taken.

Nick said...

VeryVeryBored - I wouldn't expect it of most places in the States, but I think San Francisco goes its own way (gay capital of America etc). Kentucky and California probably regard each other as Satan's workshop.

speccy said...

I'm sure I heard somewhere that the only exception to the buying/ selling of these animals would be if they were due to feature on a menu. Could that possibly be correct? It's ok to maybe be cruel if you're going to eat them anyway?
Maybe I misheard? Maybe I should try and check these things before announcing them?

Nick said...

Speccy - You heard right. That's the absurd contradiction. You won't be able to buy or sell animals as pets, but you can still buy and sell them for consumption. Which of course involves just as much suffering.

Miss Scarlet said...

Sometimes I feel that I want to rescue them all, but that wouldn't be feasible.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - If everyone who bought a pet from a pet shop got one from a rescue centre instead, that would certainly make a difference.

Roses said...

The Cat is a rescue feline.

The only reason I've gone to a pet store is to buy stuff for her. That's not going to change anytime soon.

Nick said...

Roses - A rescue feline, excellent! I can't see any problem with going to a pet shop for food and accessories.

secret agent woman said...

Oh, interesting. And, although I've had many pets in the past, I'm inclined to support the ban. Our greyhound was a rescued racer and I always got other dogs and cats from shelters. And I've become more convinced that exotic animals shouldn't be kept as pets at all. Plus, the proliferation of dogs and cats running loose is a real problem here.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - So good to hear about all these rescued pets! Yes, I'm sure a lot of exotic animals aren't looked after properly because the owners don't know enough about them.

blackwatertown said...

I sympathise. But I doubt it is something that can be effectively banned - perhaps driven to the margins.
Better to put the puppy farms out of business by going to shelters instead.
A lot of people in our village buy pups, rabbits, kittens form neighbours rather than shops.
Other times people are giving them away rather than having to keep them.

Nick said...

Blackwater - The cruelty will only be ended if the new law is strictly enforced, but in practice law enforcement is often pretty lax. Getting pets from neighbours is the ideal solution.

Liz said...

There are things you can do when choosing a puppy to make sure it's from a good background - see it with the parents etc - but is shocking that some people are willing to use animals simply as a product to be sold at the highest price with the least expense and inconvenience. But then human beings are still being sold in similar circumstances.

Nick said...

Liz - This sort of animal-neglect is always shocking, and as you say people are also trafficked in equally barbaric ways. Some people have hearts of stone.

Jenny Woolf said...

It's years since I've seen a pet shop. I can't say I'd miss them, but a lot of problems seem to arise with breeders of dangerous dogs, etc. who sell them direct to customers. So the buying and selling of pets is the problem rather than pet shops, and I presume this is the idea behind the SF ban.

Nick said...

Jenny - But if the pet shops connive in the sale of badly-treated pets, surely they're also at fault?