The Real Cost of That Doggie in the Window

Photo Credit: Chris Goldberg

In 2011, several West Village-located pet stores issued a ban on “drunk puppy buying,” a phenomenon apparently occurring each year as inebriated locals made their way home from New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Drunken celebrants would notice a small group of puppies playing in the storefront window and impulsively purchase, only to end up back at the store the next day to return their new best friend. The store’s solution? Hopeful buyers have to fill out an application, then return the next day to complete the adoption. Most never return. Unfortunately, this phenomenon isn’t an isolated situation occurring just when people are celebrating the luck of the Irish.

While hoards of roaming partiers “oohing” and “aahing” over adorable pups may sound like a red-flag no-brainer for pet shops and shelters, the majority of owner surrenders following the holiday season are from well-meaning parents looking to surprise their little one with an unforgettable gift. But often in all the excitement, parents forget about the fact this puppy is depending on them for the next 10 to 15 years — a huge commitment. They will not always be small, they will not always be sleeping and once they are big enough to climb (and begin teething) you may not always find them cute For those of you out there with any puppy experience, you know there is absolutely no way to forget one even if you tried. Between the two month to one-year mark your life is spent keeping your home from collapsing under a puppy-bomb explosion — all day, every day.

Related: Two Huge Puppy Mill Raids Save More Than 200 Dogs

Because of this reality, many reputable breeders will not sell puppies to people around the Christmas holiday, leaving buyers two options: pet stores and shelters (though most prefer the former due mainly to the ready supply available.

Unfortunately for many puppies purchased over the holiday, the shelter is exactly where they end up as it becomes pretty quickly the purchase was not a smart one. This places an extraordinary amounts of stress on both the organization and the dog being surrendered.

Besides possibly feeding into the shelter problem, people buying from puppy stores are feeding into the puppy-mill epidemic. The fact remains that many puppies purchased from retail pet stores are supplied by puppy mills, which is essentially a breeding factory for dogs and one that treats the parent dogs no better than a machine. Dogs living in puppy mills are typically kept in tight, cramped cages often unlined with any type of flat surface or bedding to speak of. In addition to the outright neglect in treating physical and psychological ailments, dogs tend to not get any fresh air, walks or socialization. This is done to keep costs low and output high. According to a 2014 report released by The Humane Society of the United States, 2.04 million puppy mill puppies are sold annually to various retailers. This number looks even more disheartening when compared to the approximately 3 million euthanized animals that never made it out of the shelter system. (A few states and cities are clamping down on pet stores and where they purchase their animals from.)

A dog can be a wonderful addition to a home, assuming the home is ready and willing to take on such a committed responsibility. If you are thinking of making an addition to your family, please invest ample time in researching an ideal breed type to fit your lifestyle and visit local shelters and rescue organizations in your area. Sharing your home with a new addition can be a wonderful experience with just a little preparation and that could make for a truly wonderful Christmas story to remember.

Related: The Top 100 Worst Puppy Mills Revealed

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