Ethics of working for a pet store
March 5, 2007 7:50 PM   Subscribe

I stopped by the local PetLand store tonight just to look at the cute puppies. My mom made a comment about me working there, and the clerk handed me an employment application. Could I, in good conscience, work there?

I am looking for a job, but I've always had a policy of not purchasing animals from pet stores because of puppy farms and abusing animals. The clerk made it sound like they take very good care of their animals. But do their dogs come from puppy farms? Could I work for them and not be participating in bad animal treatment practices?
posted by IndigoRain to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have any cold, hard facts to support the claim that PetLand buys from puppy farms; however, various documentaries and news items lead me to believe that most (if not all) chain stores like PetLand do buy from puppy farms. I would think that if you are very firm in your stance that animal mistreatment is ALL kinds of wrong, then you just shouldn't chance working at such a place.
posted by AlliKat75 at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2007


You should ask your potential future employer. If they get their pets from reputable sources they will admire the fact that this is something you care about. If they don't, or you think they are lying, don't work there!
posted by iamkimiam at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2007


Could I work for them and not be participating in bad animal treatment practices?

Probably not.
posted by jamaro at 8:03 PM on March 5, 2007


There are pet supply stores that don't sell animals.

There are lots and lots of great strays to adopt, and any breeder who would consign or sell to a pet store is probably more interested in volume and profit margins than the treatment of their animals.

Don't do it.
posted by Good Brain at 8:15 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you spend money there, you are supporting whatever their practices are. If I have a store that sells towels and pickled baby heads, you're not OK if you just buy the towels. (This is not to liken Petland's puppy practices to pickling baby heads; I don't know what their practices are, and I am a professional vivisectionist anyway.)

On the other hand, if you work at a place that does things you mostly can feel good about, you have at least a shot at working from within to change the ones you don't like. I would imagine that, in a pet store, they would try to hire animal lovers, and that they would expect that some animal lovers would be too tenderhearted to do some tasks.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:21 PM on March 5, 2007


The other way of looking at it is that if the puppies had been mistreated before they reached the store, then if you work there you can make sure that they are treated better thereafter.

You working there won't affect whether people buy puppies, unless you actively work to subvert sales (and in which case you won't be working there for long), but if you do work there you can take care of the puppies and help make sure they're happy (or happier) before they finally get a real home.

If there's a bad situation ethically speaking, is it better to avoid it, or to get involved and try to make it better?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:25 PM on March 5, 2007


But do their dogs come from puppy farms?

Sadly, it looks like they do. They may try to gussy things up by calling them "private breeders", but a puppy mill is a puppy mill; only high-scale commercial breeding outfits produce puppies at sufficient volume to meet the needs of shops that keep puppies of multiple breeds available throughout the year...and Petland is the largest such chain in the US. They are known to get puppies from the Hunte Corporation, the nation's biggest puppy brokerage, and also one of the highest volume commercial dog breeders. The puppies it doesn't produce in its own kennels are sourced from puppy mills around the country.

You might want to work there nonetheless, in the hopes of improving conditions for the puppies and other animals in that particular store -- but even if the management does give you a free hand in helping the animals, be warned that you might see things that will break your heart.

I'm really not a fan of PETA at all, but reluctantly provide this link because it's the only snippet I can find online of footage that was used in the Dateline expose of Petland and its suppliers. Even if you turn off the narration, the filthy, overcrowded cages and visibly injured, sickly, and neurotic dogs speak for themselves.

(Fair warning: there are photos and stories in all of those links that will probably make you feel sick.)
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 9:21 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Smilia gets it right - nearly all pet store puppies come from puppy mills.

Puppies bought at pet stores are often sick or have poor temperaments, due to the overcrowded conditions and lack of proper breeding practices.

It's a scam, really. People bring the puppies home, become attached (it doesn't take long) and then they have to spend a lot of money on vet bills. The consumer's only recourse is to take the puppy back to the pet store--the pet store won't reimburse you for veterinary bills. The pet stores know that few people will actually return puppies because of the attachment factor.

Even if you were helping take care of the dogs at the store, which assumes you would have resources, space etc. provided by the management, you would still be participating in what I consider to be unethical business practices.

Nobody should ever buy animals at a pet store.
posted by dweingart at 10:53 PM on March 5, 2007


Not only can you not, in good conscience, work at Petland, but doing so will guarantee that you will never be able to get a good job working with animals unless you're willing to lie on your resume.

Before I started my own business, I spent more than a decade working at animal shelters, veterinary hospitals and training companies. Resumes that include stores that sell dogs and cats get tossed.

Working at Petland is a black mark that you will never, ever live down. Most professionals who care about animals and want trustworthy, intelligent employees will hire felons before they hire pet store employees.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:35 PM on March 5, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste - by helping assure that Petland has a stream of people willing to work for them, the poster would in fact be helping support that establishment. Petland, by selling puppies (even if it makes them happier and healthier while they are in its care), assures that the puppy farms have a clientele -- thus helping assure that they will remain in business.

If the poster wants to get involved to help improve the situation, a better choice might be employment with a competing type of business that does _not_ sell puppies from puppy farms, then doing everything possible (and ethical) while in that employment to help the employer succeed over Petland.

No more Petland and no more stores like it = fewer puppy mills = less puppy suffering in the long term.
posted by amtho at 5:23 AM on March 6, 2007


jeez. i couldn't even walk into a petland, much less work there due to their animal treatment. if you have enough conscience to ask this question here, then you already know the answer.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:46 AM on March 6, 2007


Maybe you'd be happier with a job at Petsmart or Petco, both of which work extensively with local pet adoption organizations as well as national pet charities.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:46 AM on March 6, 2007


In high school and the years just after I worked at two different petfood chains. Neither of them sold any live animals other than fish and some reptiles. Then one day Petco bought out the company I was working for, and I was suddenly faced with selling small animals and birds. I didn't stick around long enough to see what the conditions were like, to be fair, but my supervisor at the time put it best; "It's one thing to have to scoop the dead fish in the morning..." I gave my notice.

That's not a dig against Petco, I still shop there and they seem pretty okay I guess. It's just a personal decision. Do you love animals so much that it's going to be too hard to see them unhappy, or worse yet unhealthy? Or on the other side of the coin, are you going to have a hard time not rescuing the ones who aren't finding homes?

If you want a job that will suit your love of animals, I highly recommend finding a nice pet supply store. You can learn a lot about pet care and nutrition, they do frequently sponsor adoption drives, and people are always bringing their pets in to shop. Happy, healthy, well cared for, even spoiled pets.
posted by sarahmelah at 6:54 AM on March 6, 2007


"It's one thing to have to scoop the dead fish in the morning..."

Unfortunuately, that comes with the territory when you have fish.

Anecdote: A couple years ago we had just built a pond in our backyard, and we went to Petsmart to buy some goldfish. The clerk who helped us was so happy; she told the fish as she bagged them, "You're going to live!" Most of those comets were sold as "feeder fish" for people who kept other animals. Of course, after a year or two of algae, hurricanes, and other circumstances, these fish died and we never restocked the pond.

Back to the point: Working in a pet store with animals, or a vet's office for that matter, you're going to witness "the circle of life" every day. Keep that in mind as you decide what to do.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:19 AM on March 6, 2007


Ditto to Freshwater pr0n. You will never live down a Petland reference on your resume, and you sound like you really love animals. I don't know about the professional felon part, but anyway....

How about selling a kitten to a disinterested parent with a kid that is an undisciplined terror?

Nah. you are better off working at a shelter. At least if you are interested in animal welfare. Doesn't pay as well, but truly, those people are interested in the wellness of the critters. Honestly, I couldn't work there - I would have too many "take homes", and I couldn't euthanize any others without crying for two days afterward.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 9:08 AM on March 6, 2007


Also, keep in mind about "reputable breeders". The only qualification in most states to become a breeder is you have to be able to buy two dogs. Getting one of each sex is pretty much the only real test of intelligence. So, while I'm not kind in the wishes I have for owners of puppy/kitten mills, my feelings towards breeders is even lower.

My advice: get another job and volunteer at the local shelter.
posted by Spoonman at 9:52 AM on March 6, 2007


Thanks guys, I won't work there.

FWIW, I have never purchased anything there, so I've never supported them. My dog was put down in 2002 and I just went in to look at the puppies. They always thank me for coming in, saying that the dogs do need to come out and play.

I think the thing that got me is that they work with my vet's office - well, the vet I used when my dog was alive - and the vet is really great. Perhaps I'll get a job working for her instead.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2007


if you have a petsmart in town, they only adopt out dogs and cats taken from shelters, at least that's the case here (tampa, fl). though they do sell outright rodents, reptiles, birds, and fish. that said, i've never heard of a place where you could adopt neglected tropical fish.
posted by wreckingball at 11:43 AM on March 6, 2007


Spoonman, you're tarring with a wide brush there. Yes, most breeder are bad, and the AKC rating means little, even some kennels that produce a huge number of show dogs are bad but there are many good breeders out there and a lot of information on the web on how to distinguish them from backyard breeders who just want to make a buck. A breeder who cares first and foremost about the longetivity and long term health of the breed, who will refuse unsuitable buyers with cash in hand, who will take back all dogs, who does genetic testing and hip/eye/heart/elbow testing, who doesn't breed any dogs with defects or dogs out of litters with genetic defects, who carefully matches puppies to suitable families, who consider temperment as a key figure even if the AKC doesn't test for it, who is working specifically to resolve the issues that plague their breed, etc is a canine advocate and should not be lumped with Joe next door who wanted to make a quick buck letting his dogs get it on.

Here's a thread on ask that discusses it a little, there are many similar discussions scattered in the dog threads.
posted by hindmost at 6:56 PM on March 8, 2007


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