Pets Plus, a Philadelphia-area pet store chain, has agreed to stop selling animals raised in commercial facilities commonly called “puppy mills.” These infamous puppy mills breed dogs in inhumane and horrific conditions, and the puppies, when rescued, are ofen in poor health, malnourished, and sometimes even injured, according to John Moyer, outreach coordinator of The HSUS Puppy Mills Campaign.
Of the nine Pets Plus stores in the Philadelephia and New Jersey area, four have switched to offering puppy adoptions (Jenkintown, Lansdale, Conshohocken and Northeast Philadelphia), and the remaining five (Quakertown; Bensalem; Fairless Hills; Delran, N.J.; and Lawrenceville, N.J) are set to be converted soon.
Bruce Smith, a co-owner of Pets Plus along with Mark Araeia, said he finally felt it was time to change to adopting animals instead of selling them to his patrons. “He told me how many puppies in the South were being euthanized every day,” Smith said. “Once I found out that puppies were being euthanized, I agreed to move forward with the program and that we would help to save lives.”
The reaction from the public has been “huge.”
The public has given a resounding “Thank You” to Smith and Araeia’s decision. “Our Facebook has been getting ‘Thank-yous’ all over the place,” Smith said. “We’re getting thank you letters written to us personally and we also have been getting new customers who support us.” Smith admits that some people refused to shop at Pets Plus stores before because they sold dogs from puppy mills. More people are visiting Pets Plus on account of their adoption model.
Part of the conversion has been improvements to the dogs’ living areas, as well. “We’re redoing our kennels. They’re a lot bigger. There’s more room to roam back and forth,” Smith commented.
Instead of simply giving dogs to would-be pet owners, Pets Plus requires contracts to be completed. A background check and a veterinarian’s review is then undertaken. In the situation where the owner no longer wishes to keep the dog, the SPCA will take it back to keep the dog from being euthanized.
Pets Plus works with the HSUS, as well as an oranization called Animal Aid of New Jersey, to place the puppies up for adoption. In addition, the SPCA will be working with Pets Plus and the state of Pennsylvania to save puppies’ lives.
”We feel with us giving up the commercial dogs, we are helping to save lives,” he said. “We are hopeful that people will help support us, the local resources and the SPCA. Their main goal is to try and save lives across Pennsylvania and that people will hopefully adopt the puppies.”
Carmen Ronio, executive director of the Montgomery County SPCA, said he is very pleased that Pets Plus is no longer selling animals raised in puppy mills. “It is also our hope that other pet stores will follow this example as this program will indeed help eliminate the needless suffering and overbreeding of animals raised in a puppy mill environments,” he said.
“We would also hope that Pets Plus sends its customers to organizations such as ours to adopt a pet,” Ronio said.
World for All, an animal rights group, put it simply: “Why shop when you can adopt?”