Why not take in shelter-bound pigs to sell like you do with the shelter-bound kittens? You can be sort of like a piggy rescue? Just suggesting.
Right now, most people buy from breeding mills and mistreat their animals. Ideally, we would like everyone to always adopt and treat their animals perfectly.
You can't go directly from point A to point B. People just don't change their ways that fast- there have to intermediate steps, like getting people to ask where a shop gets its animals before they buy, and convincing them to spend the extra money on quality food. Once that is widely accepted, then we can go father.
I don't actually know whether they supply anyone else. I'm not the owner, and I don't do a lot with the small animal department (aquatics are more my specialty, but I talk with customers about all types of animal). But, I do know that the owner (my mom) is very anti- breeding mills, and I'm sure she's done the research on her sources.
"Why not take in shelter-bound pigs to sell like you do with the shelter-bound kittens? You can be sort of like a piggy rescue? Just suggesting."
I do intend to look into that and try to pitch the idea to her if it sounds feasible. When you get a rescue animal, there tends to be a fairly strict application process. I'm not sure if a rescue organization would trust us to do that for them, and I'm not sure if the impulse-buyers would put up with that when they can go across the street and get a pig with no questions asked (because if they do that it defeats the purpose).
The kittens we usually get because individuals bring us unwanted litters saying "it's you guys or the pound." Occasionally someone will bring in an unwanted piggie or bunnie, and we take those in to.
I'm sure sometimes the shelters get overcrowded with small animals and they would be more than happy to have someone take them before having them euthanized. Maybe your store can be that safe place for these little critters?
Yeah, if we could get that set up, it would be great. :)
You are feeding the impulse buyers either way.
Yeah, you're sure your mom has done her research on the breeder. That works. Unless you've seen the conditions first hand, you don't know what is going on. And how do you know they are not supplying the pet store across the street or selling feeders?
Once again we don't care how clean the store may look or how nice the employees seem, you're still selling animals.
That's absolutely true. There are also some that take good care of their animals. That's why you have to do your homework before you deal with them.
"Yeah, you're sure your mom has done her research on the breeder. That works. Unless you've seen the conditions first hand, you don't know what is going on."
Are you suggesting my mother is lying to me, or that she's stupid enough to be fooled? If she didn't care whether our animals were bred in bad conditions, we'd sell puppy mill puppies. Pet shops make TONS of money at that, and our shop struggles because we refuse to do it. Our attitude toward small animals is no different.
"You are feeding the impulse buyers either way."
No, because once we educate them about proper animal care, they often stop being impulse buyers! If we didn't carry animals at all, those same people would just go next door and still be impulse buyers after they leave.
"And how do you know they are not supplying the pet store across the street or selling feeders?"
Because the pet store across the street is Petsmart in my case, and I know they get their animals from huge national breeding mills with really horrible conditions. If it were a small pet store across the street, and they also got their animals from a good local breeder, then I'd say kudos to them for taking the ethical route instead of the cheap breeding mill route.
As for selling feeders, that is a different topic. Snakes *do* have to eat too. Unless you're a vegan, and have no carnivorous pets (ie dogs and cats), you can't really argue that someone else's pet should starve.
"Once again we don't care how clean the store may look or how nice the employees seem, you're still selling animals."
I didn't say we were good because our store "looks clean" or our employees "seem nice." Sometimes we are NOT nice- sometimes we tell people, after quizzing them, that they are not prepared to care for this animal and they should not buy it. What our employees are is educated and educational. And the fact that we sell animals enables us to educate far more people then we would otherwise be able to.
I encourage you to find out if there are any guinea pig rescues in your area and promote adoption in your store, whether or not you sell pigs. You can still sell supplies.
That is a sad thing, but I'm sure you're right. Too many people think of guinea pigs as "just rodents" and that they don't deserve the kind of "rights" we'd give a dog or cat.
"I encourage you to find out if there are any guinea pig rescues in your area and promote adoption in your store, whether or not you sell pigs. You can still sell supplies."
Like I said above, if I meet a customer who seems responsive to the idea, I always promote adoption. We keep rescue contact info for as many species as we can and give it out freely- everything from dogs to iguanas. I just think that for the many people we can't convince to adopt, I'd rather teach them something and sell them a healthy pig then let them go to Petsmart and stay ignorant.
Even with your logic about them just going across the street to Petsmart, you're still contributing to the overpopulation problem. Yeah your customers might know not to put vitamins in the water, but the animal shelter in the area is really being hit from two angles--your store and Petsmart. And your store is probably seen as the reputable alternative. Another incentive not to adopt.
You're knowingly consenting to be part of the overpopulation problem by rationalizing it, comparing yourself to the giants. "We're not as bad as that."
If your store carried adoptable guinea pigs it would bring in a whole new market.
I don't think it's hypocritical to say "we educate people and that is a good thing" just because we sell healthy, humanely bred animals.
"Backyard breeders are backyard breeders. Hence the name."
The phrase "backyard breeder" is a derogatory term that people who are against all breeding use to describe all small scale breeders, and to imply that they all mistreat their animals. That's simply not true, and it's a very unfair accusation unless you've personally met every single one of them.
They do not spay/neuter, have sale contracts, screen buyers or take back any of their returns, or can guarantee any of their animals are being bred by buyers.
They don't fall in line with "reputable breeders" http://www.cavyspirit.com/responsiblebreeder.htm who don't sell to pet shops at all.
The hypothetical "impulse buyer" I was talking about IS going to buy a guinea pig. Either here or at petsmart. The fact that we sell healthy pigs does not mean more are bred then would be bred otherwise. It just makes the breeding mills less profitable, and one step closer to stopping.
In fact, I would argue that we actually reduce the number of unwanted pigs going to shelters, because we filter out the people who shouldn't buy one in the first place and talk them out of it. If those same people walk into petsmart instead, they walk out with a pig who will be dumped in a shelter later.
And, as I said before, we also keep some animals out of shelters by taking them in ourselves whenever they cross our doorstep.
"And your store is probably seen as the reputable alternative. Another incentive not to adopt."
The sort of person who would ask themselves, "should I adopt?" and then come to us, is going to walk out our door with the phone number of a rescue organization or shelter, not an animal. The people we sell animals to are the type who won't adopt, regardless, because they don't know or care where any shop's animals come from... until we explain it to them.
So when you say "backyard breeder" you don't mean "breeder who mistreats animals," you just mean "breeder who sells to pet shops." Okay- that is different.
Although, to say that "your shop is bad because you buy from backyard breeders" and "backyard breeders are bad because they sell to shops" is a bit circular. No animals are harmed in this process, and like I said, it keeps people out of petsmart.
It IS true that we do not have sales contracts, we can not spay/neuter because the animals are too young, and we cannot guarantee that buyers will never breed their pets. I wish we could do all that, but we do everything we can, short of driving people to buy at petsmart instead (which would defeat the purpose). That means that the lives of many animals are improved by what we do, and the breeding mills get less profit and less incentive to keep committing the crimes they do.
We are not increasing the baby guinea pig market, we're just stealing market share from organizations that mistreat their animals horribly.
If I started a car company, and convinced people to by my cars instead of Ford's, I would not cause more cars to be made overall. I would make some cars, and cause Ford to make fewer cars. And if Ford was horribly unethical, that would be a good thing.
You seem very righteous about your store when all objective logic points to it adding to the homeless animal population. I mean, basic fact-you purchase animals from a breeder. You're adding to the homeless animal population.
Unless you and your fellow coworkers have stringent screening standards (home checks, seeing the cages, following through on the sales), how do you know your guinea pigs aren't being used for breeding themselves, or just thrown in a tank for some four year old to make faces at?
I know you keep saying you tell people what to do, and ask questions. But people are liars! And people will nod and nod and agree and smile and the whole time not be giving a sh*t. Rescues that do month long screening processes with people run into this. But you think you can screen the impulse homes with some questions in a day?
Unless your staff is mind readers, you're sending "healthy" guinea pigs to some unhealthy homes for at least a portion of the sales.
Sorry, off topic but after seeing some of my friends have babies way too young and unable to care for them,then reading this thread it got me thinking."
That gets into all kinds of juicy philosophical debates about the differences between humans and animals, and our own arrogance as a species. Maybe you should start an off-topic thread about it. I'll join... it's an interesting subject.