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The continuation of the ongoing saga of trying to educate people about dog rescue and reputable breeders and encouraging people not to shop at stores who sell puppies and kittens.  This morning, I felt inspired to write a response to a statement made by a local pet store on Facebook.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks!

“Bridges Pets was founded in 2002 with the vision of bringing family and community together around the animals we love. We believe that responsible pet ownership should be enjoyed by all who desire it—from the one who can afford only basic pet care necessities, to the one privileged enough to provide more. We take great satisfaction in seeing the happiness animals bring to people’s lives, even to those people who come to our store just to browse. Bridges is a field trip destination for school children and retirement center residents alike. Our customers’ joy and smiles are our motivation and we look forward to serving our community for many years to come.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

Yesterday I read Bridges Pets’ response to a current boycott against their store in an effort to raise awareness of the role pet stores have in animal rescue and the support of puppy mills.  Bridges Pets sells puppies and kittens.  Their defense of this practice inspired me this morning and I’m thankful for this platform that allows me to share my thoughts as a Fur Mom

“Last summer, Bridges stopped consigning puppies from local breeders in hopes that our store could be better utilized to provide homes for unwanted pets. We partnered with the Everett Animal Shelter and Second Chance Rescue to adopt out 165 kittens between July and December. After informing breeders of our decision, many of our animal enclosures remained empty as we awaited an influx of puppies sourced exclusively from shelters and rescues.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

I can’t imagine there ever being an “influx of puppies” as expected by Bridges Pets, because puppies are adopted out immediately.  We adopted Rodrigo and Sydney before they were ready to come home with us; they’re entire litter was claimed by loving families.  Puppies remain with their litter in foster families and don’t belong in “animal enclosures” at a pet store or a shelter due to the health risks.  As a mom to a parvo puppy, I know first hand the dangers puppies face in these type of environments.  Foster families are a much safer place for them until they find their forever home.

Bridges Pets defends their animal enclosures, letting us know that they’re clean.  Do the owners of Bridges Pets understand that the Canine Parvo Virus is resistant to most cleansers?  Do they know that customers can track the virus in on their feet?  Although most dogs only come in contact with the virus if they come in contact with an infected dog or feces, unvaccinated puppies are very vulnerable (some breeds more vulnerable than others).  Has Bridges Pets taken this into account in their quest for puppies?

“We began to make connections with rescues that work outside of Washington, but were cautioned against doing so by the Everett Animal Shelter. Our critics tell us that up to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in U.S. shelters every year. But let us establish the relevant scope of the problem. The Everett Animal Shelter steered Bridges away from two rescues that were willing to place out-of-state animals up for adoption in our store.  The shelter did this while failing to provide us with any puppies themselves. We mention this not to trivialize the aforementioned problem, but to call into question the relevancy of a nationwide statistic and to highlight the fact that Bridges, being new to the rescue community, had made every reasonable effort to address the issue locally.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

FurKidz 911 Connection goes to other states to help with animal rescue efforts.  In the time that we’ve known them (they united us with Rodrigo and Sydney) they’ve gone to both Oregon (where our dogs’ mom was rescued from an animal hoarding) and California.  They’ve saved countless lives both locally and along the west coast.  Did Bridges Pets only speak with the Everett Animal Shelter or did they reach out to other rescue groups (of which there are plenty)?

Is it appropriate to place blame on the rescue community for a business decision  Bridges Pets’ made that was based on the advice given by one shelter?

“For not only did Bridges offer to showcase shelter animals and facilitate their adoption, the store also made itself available to host weekend adoption events. Every rescue that was invited, however, has refused to participate. Reasons for refusal range from lack of volunteer help, to lack of offsite logistics.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

I’ve been to too many adoption events hosted by rescue groups to count.  How many rescue groups did Bridges Pets contact before they gave up?  I do agree that there are many reasons rescue groups may choose not to work with a location – a better one is available, distance and time, or they already have something scheduled for that weekend.  The insinuation that rescue groups are refusing assistance is insulting.  These are people who are doing the work many of us don’t have the time or guts to do and they do it in their spare time without compensation.

Petco stores are always hosting adoption events; they’re management team may prove to be a great resource if Bridges Pets would like to learn how they’re able to attract such a high number of adoption events.  Not only are these events good for dog rescue; they’re great for business.  When we adopted our dogs, we also spent $200 on puppy supplies before we went home.  We weren’t the only new dog parents walking around with a Petco shopping cart.

 

“Perhaps if our critics had put more time and effort into recruiting additional volunteers to assist the rescues, they would have been more effective in actually helping animals in need. Instead, they direct their energies into organizing a store boycott. Why not use the customer flow at Bridges to the advantage of unwanted pets? How many dogs could have had new families if a volunteer had brought them to the store for adoption? How many dogs have been euthanized because no one brought them?” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

Now this is the slap in the face.  I’m curious to know what Bridges Pets has done beyond offering space to help rescue groups.  When a rescue group said they lacked volunteers, did Bridges Pets offer to help them recruit or offer their own time?  I have three dogs sleeping around me now who were not euthanized thanks to the work of rescue groups.  There are millions of dog owners who can say the same thing.  To blame the euthanization of dogs on rescue groups shows me that the boycott is a good idea.  This is not a store I want to support.

“The lack of available homeless pets prompted us to again turn to local breeders for puppies. We revised our program to require a $100 spay/neuter deposit from customers and we reduced our portion of the sale proceeds to only $95. This reduced figure helps us to cover some of our costs, which include current vaccinations, worming, flea treatment and the time it takes to show the puppies and process their adoptions. All things equal, we do not prioritize breeder puppies over shelter animals in choosing which pets to offer to our customers. Although breeder puppies are our second choice, they have also become our only choice.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

The “lack of available homeless pets.”  From this, I can only assume that the people of Bridges Pets is unfamiliar with PetFinder.com.

” Bridges requires breeders to agree to an in-home visit in cases where we deem it necessary. But even as we require this of our breeders, our default view of them is not as suspects or as potential criminals. We make rational decisions about how intrusive we ought to be based on the reasonable amount of information we collect. Some of our breeders are elderly people, or families with children who are nervous about having people view their information online and come to their home. Bridges provides a safe and public place for their puppies’ adoption.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

From this, I see that Bridges Pets is dealing with people who have no business breeding dogs.  If you don’t feel comfortable with people coming to your home, then you shouldn’t breed puppies.  Why?  Because potential dog owners should be able to see and interact with all the puppies and their parents in their environment.  Adopting puppies from a enclosure in a store doesn’t show us if they’re coming from a good line or if their parents are over bred or sickly.

I think it’s great that Bridges Pets doesn’t assume that the they are working with people suspected of animal abuse.  But in our environment of animal rescue, it’s important to not only educate potential dog owners, but aspiring hobby breeders as well.  It seems that Bridges Pets has chosen to close their eyes to potential problems and turn their back on the animal rescue.  Animal abuse comes in many forms; creating new breeds without considering the health consequences is a form of animal abuse.

I don’t like people telling me how to manage my blogging, but if what I’m doing could potential cause harm, I’d want to know that so that I can work to make things better.

 

The dog on the right is pregnant with Rodrigo, Sydney and their littermates.

“These critics actually refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of a hobby breeder, and instead give the impression that reputable and qualified breeders are nonexistent. This is untrue. The breeders with whom we work are caring people, who frequently call the store to check on their puppies’ welfare.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

I take issue with this, because I’ve connected with many reputable breeders and they would never release their puppies to a pet store.   There are so many risks involved.  Hats off to Bridges Pets on finding homes for puppies and kittens.  My concern is that Bridges Pets is encouraging people to breed animals who don’t have the experience.  They may have the love, but it takes much more than love to breed healthy dogs and cats.

I’m a caring person too; I love my dogs so much that I have a blog about them.  But that doesn’t make me qualified to breed dogs for others.  I love this article on A Mastiff Blog that identifies the difference between a backyard breeder and a hobby breeder.

“Rescues and shelters do not have an exclusive claim to the word “adoption.” When a new pet is brought into the home, it is adopted into a family—whether it comes from a shelter, rescue, breeder or pet store. There is nothing misleading about Bridges Pets’ use of the word “adoption” to describe its practice of selling healthy puppies into loving homes.” ~ Bridges Pets Facebook Page

The word “adoption” is misleading.  Bridges Pets is selling puppies.  I don’t know any reputable breeders that calls their fee an “adoption fee.”  Bridges Pets is in the business of selling puppies; don’t hide behind the term adoption.  Doing so is part of what makes me uncomfortable, because it seems like they’re intentionally misleading potential pet families who think they’re rescuing a dog and not buying from an inexperienced breeder.

In conclusion, Bridges Pets has only shown me that they have some misinformation about dog rescue.  I’m reading that they believe rescue groups are not doing enough towards animal rescue.  I have witnessed people lose sleep while they drive overnight to pull dogs who are on death row, I see the Facebook and Twitter posts from people all around the country looking for temporary homes for dogs who will die the next day, and I know the fate of our dogs where it not for rescue groups.

I’m happy that Bridges Pets is finding homes for dogs who may end up in shelters; what frightens me is that they’re working with the people we see selling puppies on the side of the road, outside grocery stores, and on Craigslist.  What terrifies me is that Bridges Pets is offering compensation to people who may be less than savory; like the family who had over 100 Australian Cattle Dogs starving on their property in Oregon (Rodrigo and Sydney’s origin).  And they’re blaming rescue workers for this choice.

I will not shop at Bridges Pets.  If you feel the same, please comment below and share this article in an effort to educate.  Thanks!

The statements I make are my own based on my perception of the statement Bridges Pets posted on their Facebook page. The quotes were taken directly from that post via copy and past on Saturday, January 26, 2013.


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