Shelters biting pet-store sales hard, poll finds
By Sue Manning, Associated Press
Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.
LOS ANGELES — Remember the old song “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” For most Americans, it seems that it’s no sale.
More than half of people in an Associated Press-Petside.com poll said they would get their next dog or cat from a shelter, nearly seven times the number who said they would buy their next pet from a store.
And more than four in 10 said they thought store pets could have hidden medical or psychological problems. That’s significantly more than those who expressed the same concerns about pets from animal shelters or breeders.
“I believe they overbreed the pets. I believe they couldn’t care less about the pets; they’re really in it for the money. I think you are more likely to get a pet at a pet store that is ill or has problems,” said Sandra Toro, 62, of Colton.
Just 8 percent of those polled said they would get their next cat or dog at a store, while 13 percent said that’s where they got the pet they have now. Fifty-four percent of those polled said they would probably get their next pet from a shelter, while 23 percent would opt for a breeder.
The American Pet Products Association said sales from pet stores have declined over the past 10 years.
Toro, who has a 14-year-old rescue-terrier mix named Dancer, said she doesn’t understand how anyone can buy a pet from a store or a breeder. “There are so many wonderful pets out there that will be euthanized,” she said. “There’s no reason for it.”
John Knight, 45, of Dallas got his 3-year-old mutt named Liesl (rhymes with “diesel”) from an animal shelter that was holding a weekend adoption day at Petsmart.
“There are plenty of animals out there that need good homes that don’t have them,” Knight said. “There’s no reason to continue to breed animals when there are so many that have to be put down.”
When asked where their present pets came from, 26 percent said breeders and 30 percent said shelters — a much smaller number than those said they would go to a shelter for their next pet. More than half of those polled said their dogs or cats came from places other than shelters, breeders or stores.
They might have been strays, gifts from friends or favors for neighbors. Since some people have more than one pet, the numbers add up to more than 100 percent.
“I’ve probably had 50 dogs, and all but two came walking up our driveway,” said Colleen Campbell, 71, of Fairview, Texas.
She and her husband have spent 50 years on their rural farm outside Dallas, and it has been a perennial dumping ground for strays.
The poll showed that dog owners (35 percent) were more likely to have gotten their current pets from a breeder than cat owners (5 percent).
Forty-seven percent of those polled said they were strongly concerned that an animal from a pet store would have medical issues they didn’t know about, while 38 percent had similar worries about animals from breeders and 32 percent were concerned about shelter pets.
As for psychological problems, 44 percent said they had significant worries about pet-store animals and 33 percent worried about both breeder and shelter pets.