Pet store animals need to be fed properly and live in safe environments. There are laws in twenty states and D.C. that require animal cages be cleaned at least once a week. There are laws in 21 states and D.C. that regulate the housing of pets at pet shops. These laws often require that cages be large enough to allow the animal to move around in.
Access to veterinary care is also critical for the health and welfare animals kept in pet shops. Only 16 states have laws that require veterinary care to be available in pet shops. These laws vary in their strength. Minnesota, for example, only requires that an animal be examined by a veterinarian before it can be sold. This could mean that Minnesota pet shops are not legally required to provide veterinary care for sick animals if they aren’t being purchased immediately.
It is also important to consider the source of animals sold in pet shops. The Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”) worries that dogs and puppies sold in pet shops may have been purchased from puppy mills, rather than reputable breeders. Puppy mills are dog breeding facilities that are geared towards maximising profits at the expense or animal welfare. Puppy mills can cause problems such as overcrowding and inbreeding. They also lead to the death of unneeded animals.
There are obvious gaps in the protection of pets in pet shops. Consumers who are concerned about the welfare and well-being of animals in retail pet shops must demand a halt to the sale of these pets or a boycott of those that use cruel or unhealthy methods. If concerned pet owners are not willing to report inhumane conditions in pet shops to local animal control officers, they will not be able to address the problem. Animals are considered commodities by the retail pet industry. It is difficult to ensure that animals receive the care they need when profits are at stake.