Whole Dog Journal's Blog December 3, 2014

Puppies at the Supermarket

Posted at 05:08PM - Comments: (11)

As I approached the front of the supermarket, I saw about six or seven people standing in a circle. Uh oh, I thought, and sure enough: There was a couple there with three pit-mix puppies. The pups looked like they were about 8 weeks old; they had the pudgy, unformed bodies and the stoic/exhausted expressions of very young pups.

“Are you selling them or giving them away?” I asked. The man answered, “Selling them! $50 apiece. They’re purebred Pits!”

Never mind the “purebred Pits” claim . . . what do we do about people who persist in producing and selling dogs in this manner? With zero regard for whether the buyers are ready or equipped to properly care for a spur-of-the-moment puppy acquisition.

I had a strong impulse to tell the people fawning over the puppies that the puppies at the local shelter are the same price, but they have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, and microchipped. Whereas these ones – goodness knows whether they’ve ever had a single vaccine, or if their mom has ever had a single vaccine. And the price of all that care from the local vets would run them at least $300. But I was tired; it was Sunday night and I had worked all day, and I just needed a few items from the store so I could make something for dinner.

I have the pleasure of being acquainted with our town’s sole full-time animal control officer. Of course, he was off-duty on a Sunday night, and would be called out only by the police and only for an animal-related emergency. I texted him from inside the market, just on the off-chance that he, too, was out shopping for dinner and would take it upon himself to have a little chat with the puppy sellers. In California, it *is* actually against the law to sell dogs in this way. But this is not a priority call for any overworked small-town cop on a Sunday night, and the officer (fortunately for him) was snug at home. He texted back, “You can tell them they are in violation of 597.4 – but they are probably out there on a Sunday night knowing that the cops won’t come.”

There are a number of things I could have done to try to convince the couple not to breed and sell dogs in this way, but I just went home and stewed. When I wonder why we can’t ever seem to stem the incoming tide of unwanted and/or accidentally produced puppies and dogs at the shelter where I volunteer, I’ll try to write down the things I should have said and done, for those three tired young puppies, their mom, and all the other irresponsibly owned dogs out there.


Addendum: As I attached this file to email it to WDJ's Web Master, so it would be posted on this blog site, I happened to see another file labeled Puppies on the Roadside -- a blog I wrote about another, similar event -- dated 12/6/2011. My resolve to respond better and more energetically to these events is now hardened.

Comments (10)

When I lived in Idaho I had a vet that was willing to spay/neuter rescue and B.Y.B. animals for me at cost. What I have done on many occasions (when I could afford it) was to ask the people selling or giving away pups/kittens/bunnies etc if they would allow me to alter the female. Just about every time the owners would be more than happy to have someone else pay - they thought I was nuts; but said yes, especially with cats. I have also provided taxi service to and from low cost altering clinics for pet owners, if the owner pays. Instead of trying to educate the puppy sellers about abandonment and abuse rates or being a good pet owner; hand out contact info for low cost or free altering clinics and offer to the drive the pet. Personally I had better luck with this approach than trying the education route.

Posted by: Kate S | December 3, 2014 12:24 PM    Report this comment

What DO you do in a situation like this? What do you say to the sellers (who, in my experience, are in it for the money and don't actually care about the dogs), the prospective buyers, the store managers?

I honestly think it would be a great topic for an article -- and, ideally, one that's not paywalled, so we could all spread it via social media and websites and so forth. It would be tremendously useful to lots of us who are involved in dog rescue, and it'd get a bunch of clicks over to WDJ.

Posted by: Jennifer A | December 6, 2012 1:13 PM    Report this comment

That's a good idea...Make all these people who breed like this spend the day at the pound the day they have to put the dogs down because of temperment, or illness or lack of space. I work in at a newspaper in the classified dept and I tell these "free to good home" people that their puppies probably are not going to that great of homes, They are actually shocked that the people who come get these dogs aren't going to let them sleep on the bed and take them to the pet store for photos with Santa!!!

Posted by: KimmiJo | December 5, 2012 12:23 PM    Report this comment

This goes on more then people may know .to me it is just as bad as a puppy mill all it is about is the money.people just don't care.

Posted by: grace p | December 5, 2012 11:45 AM    Report this comment

Thanks for bringing this to light. As a dog trainer I would come into contact with this quite a bit in south Florida where I used to live. One client actually bought a puppy out of a shopping cart in a Target parking lot because they felt sorry for the puppies being sold this way. Ugh!!

Posted by: Aubry B | December 4, 2012 5:28 PM    Report this comment

Phoenix H, I'm right there with you! I hate that! Like there aren't other ways for the kids to experience the miracle of birth! Also I'm in the camp that there is NOTHING you can say to these people to get them to change. All they care about is the money. I've known someone like this. Thankfully that person isn't a "part of my family" anymore!

Posted by: Andrea J | December 4, 2012 3:35 PM    Report this comment

I saw this same kind of situation once and reported it to the manager of the grocery store. The people selling the dogs were told to leave. Most store or shopping center managers do not want this kind of thing going on at their properties and will do the right thing. Especially in a town where the activity is illegal.

Posted by: ALISON U | December 4, 2012 1:56 PM    Report this comment

Both comments and sentiments are admirable. As you say, talking to people isn't going to do it but handing out a half-sheet of paper, listing the points you make, puts the word across without arguing and verbal accusations. Giving the handout to the people looking at the puppies is also educational. One hopes, eventually, the market for these puppies will dry up.

Posted by: Unknown | December 4, 2012 1:18 PM    Report this comment

The only way to prevent this kind of activity is to educate the public about what really goes on behind the scenes of the puppies in playpens for sale in strip mall parking lots. That is a very big, big task, but we can all do our part in our own way and with whatever is within our own power to keep at it and don't give up. Confrontation often has no positive impact, but education is almost always the key to making change happen.

Posted by: Paula B | December 4, 2012 12:46 PM    Report this comment

I so agree. The comment that bugs me the most, I think, is "We want the children to experience the miracle of birth." Yeah, right. And when you're done with that, you can take them down to the pound and let them experience the miracle of death. Having that bit of snit out of the way, I do have a question. What on earth can one SAY to these people that will actually get through to them?

Posted by: Phoenix | December 4, 2012 11:59 AM    Report this comment

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