Christmas Puppy

by Maureen McCabe on December 23, 2008

Did you ever get a puppy for Christmas growing up?

We did.  When I was in 6th grade we got, Missy, a Basset Hound, whose real name was Mistletoe.  Missy became a part of our family.  We actually got Missy weeks before Christmas, a pre Christmas present.  That sweet little droopy eared puppy  and six kids ranging from eleven to  four, it must have been one crazy Christmas.  Missy was sweet when she was a puppy.

Chaos.   I am not sure it is even right to bring a canine into that kind of Christmas chaos but adopting or buying a Christmas Puppy happens… every year.

The Franklin County Dog Shelter site says:

Stop. Think. Adopt. Before you BUY a holiday puppy from a pet store, please take time to look at all the incredible dogs and puppies here at the shelter. Their lives depend on you!”

Heading out of town on Saturday we saw people picketing a Petland  store at a shopping center in Lewis Center.  According to the Humane Society of the  United States*, most Petland’s store puppies are from puppy mills.  What is a puppy mill? from ActiveRain (a real estate network)  member Kristin Johhnson

The placards I saw as we drove by were about NOT buying that Christmas puppy from Petland because their dogs are / could be from puppy mills.  As I understand the protest now they were saying adopt from a shelter or rescue group.

Makes sense.

Years ago I used to go play with puppies at the Petland on Bethel Road. Petland is an Ohio based company that sells franchises to stores that are “independently owned and operated” to borrow a phrase from the real estate industry… (maybe all franchises use that phrase.)  Petland is a national chain of pets stores, each store purchases their own “stock.”

Monday I found a post from a Central Ohio resident (and blogger) about the protest in Lewis Center.  Kelley Bell talked to the Petland store manager. Kelley’s post  The Puppy Miill Problem says:

“After speaking to the protesters, I took the time to talk with the folks at the Lewis center Petland store. Danny, the manager, brought out the Petland mascot Safari Sam to greet me and pose for pictures. He said Safari Sam was on his way out to the roadside to wave at the cars, and had been out earlier that morning standing side by side with the protest group. “The protesters show up every year during the holidays, but as you can see, it does not affect businesses at all.” He said with a wave of his hand, indicating the packed crowd of customers in the store. He was very good natured about the protest and adamantly stated that “all Petland puppies come from U.S.D.A. approved breeders.”

Kelly’s post goes on to say the phrase “U.S.D.A. approved breeders” is a red flag.  I never thought of that.

Missy our Christmas dog turned out to be psycho.  Nature or nurture?  Remember there were six kids between four and eleven years old in the family  and not a dog trainer in the bunch of them.  Missy lived until I was in my late teens or early 20′s.  Missy  was from a small, local breeder.  One girl dog, one boy dog?

Buddy my dog is from the Capital Area Humane Society, he’s a mutt.  He is wonderful.

Places to adopt a dog locally include rescue groups and shelters:

  • Franklin County Dog Shelter (link above)

Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch article about the Franklin County Dog Shelter was upsetting.  According to Kelley’s ‘The Puppy Mill Problem ‘ (link above) Mary O’Connor-Shaver of Columbus Top Dogs, who was a spokesman for the protesters said:“Lisa Wahoff, director of the Franklin County Animal Shelter pulled data in 2006 showing that as many as 7 out of every ten dogs coming into the shelter each day could be traced back to Petland sales.”

What can Ohio do to solve the Puppy Mill Problem here?  One of the local TV stations (I don’t remember which)  recently said our laws about companion animals are not as good as laws in other states.

*I am an animal lover but I am not fond of PETA or HSUS.

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1 Amber December 23, 2008 at 02:50 pm

I used to work at a vet clinic and we would see people coming in with Petland puppies and kittens all the time. They would often acknowledge that they knew they shouldn’t support Petland, but they saw the puppy’s eyes and just couldn’t leave it in that cage. Or they would say something like they wanted a __________ (fill in any breed name), but couldn’t afford one from a breeder. Petland will let you finance your puppy or kitten. That’s right. You can finance a living animal.
However, Petland is not so helpful when your vet finds your purchase came with a resistant strain of giardia. Or your kitten has to be euthanized because it has FIP. (They might say that the kitten could have picked up the disease after it left their store.) Or you might find it hard to crate train a puppy that’s been taught small confined spaces aren’t just for sleeping.
Animals should not be an impulse buy–at Christmas or any other time of year. And my biggest problem with stores like Petland (with or without giardia) is that they make it easy for a living being to become an impulse purchase. No paperwork (other than payment.) No one asks if you’re sure you’re ready. No one checks up with your vet about your previous pet. No one works with you to make sure you’re picking the right animal for your lifestyle. The stores see the animals as a commodity and most purchasers see the animals as new family members.

2 Maureen McCabe December 23, 2008 at 03:13 pm

I don’t think I had heard of “giardia” until last night. Article in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch mentioned it.

Animals should never be an impulse purchase. Thanks for the comment, I had never thought about you could finance the puppy with Petland and would not be able to with a breeder.

I know intelligent affluent people who have fallen in love with a pup at Petland.

3 Amber December 23, 2008 at 04:10 pm

Before I worked at the vet clinic, giardia was something hikers could get from drinking directly out of a stream. After I started at the clinic, giardia was something we automatically tested EVERY puppy for when we knew they came from Petland or certain local “breeders.”

4 Maureen McCabe December 24, 2008 at 08:28 am

Amber I guess I knew of giardia or what you got from drinking out of streams but did not make the connection when I was read the article in the Columbus Dispatch about the Franklin County Dog Shelter.

This is all so eye opening.

5 Kelley Bell December 27, 2008 at 11:52 am

thanks for helpinng spread the word in this issue Maureen. We really need to get public support behind the concept of ethical treatment for animals, and demand the legislature take action. Ohio has very lax laws about puppy mills. This is the third year in a row the bill has died in committee. even the Dispatch wrote an editorial demanding our elected officals take action. But they wont. Not until the public starts writing letters. The puppy mill lobby is too strong.

Ohio is becoming known as the Puppy Mill Capital of the U.S.

I think that is a dog gone shame.

6 Maureen McCabe December 28, 2008 at 08:01 am

Ohio has lots but so do PA and MO. I think they have us beat for now.

I don’t know that I was even aware of a bill to change the laws about how dogs are “created”… I will have to see if I can find the Dispatch article. Thanks

7 Joy Cobler January 5, 2009 at 05:18 pm

I don’t believe in Puppy Mills either, but once the dogs make it to Petland, then what? Should they sit in the tiny cages until they end up going to a shelter as well? I ask this because my english bulldog, Dozer, is from Petland. He was an impulse buy made by my husband as a gift for me… the english bulldog I always wanted!

Dozer was not able to be sold by the breeder, who I show as local on his papers. His legs are too long, he has lots of wrinkles and a smushed nose, but not as wrinkly and smushed as he should be by EB standards. He was the weird one in the bunch and ended up at Petland for 5 months in a cage waiting for my family to come along and give him a home.

The people at Petland loved him and took very good care of him. When we got Dozer home he got “cherry eye” which is very common in bulldogs. Petland covered the surgery completely as long as we took him to the vet they used. We had no problem doing that since he had done his first cherry eye surgery. We still take Dozer to this vet, even today, even when we have to drive 40 minutes in traffic and out of our way while passing many vet’s on the way. This particular Petland is associated with a vet that we trust, respect and enjoy seeing at each visit.

Dozer also had a medical problem we discovered when we took him in to be “fixed”. Petland paid for the additional surgery needed as long as we took him to the same vet. No problem. We paid the price of a regular spay or neuter and they covered all of the expenses above and beyond that. They never gave us a problem, never argued or gave us any grief. I found all of the people working at this Petland to be wonderful and caring.

When my husband purchased Dozer we also received an entire book about purchasing a puppy, taking care of it, training, puppy GPS, medical info, and more, including a medical record sheet that I use to this day.

I agree that Puppy Mills are shameless places where living things are created in terrible conditions. I just don’t believe that you can or should condemn every Petland store, its owners and workers. Our impulse buy turned out to be a family member and Petland has done everything they promised to do!

8 Maureen McCabe January 7, 2009 at 06:37 am

Thanks for the long comment. The puppies are adorable. That’s part of the problem. Impulse buying… and owner’s who justify buying a dog that came from a puppy mill.

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