It’s a Boycott | A Dog Lover’s Response to Bridges Pets of Snohomish WA

January 26, 2013

Dog Rescue

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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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19 Responses to “It’s a Boycott | A Dog Lover’s Response to Bridges Pets of Snohomish WA”

  1. Gizmo Geodog Says:

    Either the management of Bridge’s is entirely uninformed or they’re playing the “wilfull blindness” game…either way they deserve being called out on their make-pretend commitment to rescue…they make it clear that they’re only interested in a free source for “cute little puppies”and not interested in really being a part of the rescue movement
    Gizmo Geodog recently published..TOYS, VEGGIES, BUTTERFLIES & GEOCACHING – BEHIND THE PAW #4My Profile
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  2. Ann Paws Says:

    “My concern is that Bridges Pets is encouraging people to breed animals who don’t have the experience.” This is great! That is exactly what it sounds like they are doing. People probably bred their dog just to see its cute babies and now, they have a way to actually sell the dogs. What is going to stop them from continuing to do this? Not the pet store it seems.
    Ann Paws recently published..Saturday Photohunt: KnittedMy Profile

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  3. Erin Says:

    I likewise adopted one of my beloved dogs from furkidz911 – lucy was one of the pregnant moms at the burns, oregon hoard. I’ve known people who have bought puppies from pet stores. lucy, who was badly abused, has a much better temperament and outlook on life then the puppies bought from stores.

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  4. Robert Says:

    I don’t understand why the whole discussion is about puppies. Puppies are almost always adopted out first by shelters and rescues – that’s why there isn’t an unending supply of them. Go to any shelter and you aren’t going to see many puppies. Why can’t Bridges sell older dogs from shelters?
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    • Kimberly Says:

      I’m there with you; that statement showed me that they don’t know a lot about dog rescue and I wish they had gone beyond speaking with Everett Animal Shelter; there are so many rescue groups out there – tons on Facebook. If they would have tried connecting with people locally, asking for help and direction, I’m certain that they would have received it. Puppies sell faster and they’re justifying their choice. I’m sad that so many are so misinformed.
      Kimberly recently published..It’s a Boycott | A Dog Lover’s Response to Bridges Pets of Snohomish WAMy Profile
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  5. Emma Says:

    I agree with the points made against the policies of Bridges Pets. But it seems like they are trying to go in the right direction. I don’t have experience trying to get stores to change their policies, but aren’t their intentions good? Is a boycott the best course? The article asks if they have tried to contact other rescues to get information and educate themselves. Bridges has obviously jumped to some uninformed conclusions about the rescue “scene”. But is a boycott going to get them to come around? If so, then I support it. But is there any room for conversation or collaboration? Of course, I don’t volunteer. But it seems like both parties feel that their efforts are being belittled. Bridges seems to think they need puppies to adopt out. What about just pictures of puppies and dogs that are available?

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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thanks for commenting, Emma

      If this were a new situation, then I think a boycott would be a little over kill; but local rescue groups have been trying to work with Bridges Pets for more than 6 months (according to my contacts) and Bridges Pets hasn’t been receptive to anything beyond having puppies in their store. They don’t seem to have a preference between rescue puppies or puppies from breeders. I don’t think anything can be said to Bridges Pets to get them to change their mind. My goal is to simply educate others about the repercussions of selling puppies and kittens. Not the monetary repercussions, but the fact that by supporting this practice, we’re encouraging uninformed and inexperienced people to breed dogs and cats, adding more animals to the rescue numbers.

      I agree, Bridges is attempting to do the right thing in helping people find homes for these pets; but my concern is that the people they’re helping are continuing to provide them with dogs and cats; they aren’t turning around and having their pets spayed/neutered to prevent more unwanted animals. Bridges is giving irresponsible breeders (and this is my assumption) a revenue source to keep their operations going.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
      Kimberly recently published..5 Reasons Why We No Longer Feed Our Dogs Life’s Abundance Dog FoodMy Profile
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  6. Emma Says:

    I see. Well then it would seem that Bridges only wanted to help the problem of overpopulation and unwanted pets if they didn’t have to change their business plan (as long as they still had a pipeline of puppies). Their actions could have proceeded from consumers’ increasing distaste for pet stores-as a way to help people feel better about buying pets from a pet store. That’s not the right direction. If they really wanted to help, they would have tried to understand the situation and been willing to fill a need. I really don’t want irresponsible breeders to be encouraged. Bridges does need to be made to understand the danger in that. Thank you for informing me.

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  7. Bethany Says:

    There are numerous reasons that puppy and kitten sales are dangerous and irresponsible most of which you mentioned in your post. I believe the worst problem with pet store animal sales is impulse buying. Animals are bought as gifts or with no thought towards next week or next year let alone the next decade and beyond. All of these poor animals end up in shelters. Yet stores love impulse shoppers and impulse purchases occur way, way more often when there is an adorable puppy or kitten in the window. I would guess that this is why Bridges was only willing to have rescue puppies and kittens in their store. Not only are they catering to shoppers with no foresight but they have none as a store. Pet stores that frequently sponsor adoption events like Petco, Next to Nature and All the Best Pet Care know that having a customer for the next 10 plus years is way better than someone just blowing this weeks paycheck.

    Boycotting Bridges is an excellent plan. While it is just speculation as to why they only want puppies and kittens to sell in their store and educated guessing that they are doing business with irresponsible backyard breeders, we informed animal activists know the shelter statistics and we also know what real responsible breeding looks like. Animals bought in stores will almost all end up in a shelter. Real breeders never allow an animal they bred to end up in a shelter. This is simple enough to decipher.

    It is irresponsible stores like Bridges that make it so laws must be passed to prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens in stores. If they won’t voluntarily stop, they must be forced to stop. Maybe boycotting them out of business or into changing their ways will help but there will be another store like them waiting to lease the space or to sell the puppy mills puppies.

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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thank you so much for this amazing comment, Bethany

      You made a great great point about impulse buying. Bridges feels that by making the prices higher, people won’t do this, but that’s not really true. People who can afford a $600 puppy still do impulse buying. I also worry about someone spending that much on a puppy and not realizing that this is just the start – vaccinations, spay/neuter, food, training, etc. What if they decide to take short cuts?

      I can just go on and on.
      Kimberly recently published..Want to Succeed in Dog Training? Just Think Happy Thoughts #lawofattractionMy Profile
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  8. Scott Says:

    I must congratulate Keep the Tail Wagging for standing thier ground on the promotion of pet adoption. We have stopped shopping at Bridges in the past ourselves for this very reason. To our surprise we walked in one day some time back to see they were adopting out animals for The Everett Animal Shelter. That gained us back as a customer. We have recently noticed adoption no more and they are back to selling (adopting out) puppies and kittens again. Let me first state that if they are going to indeed call it “adopting”, a customer should not be paying $400, $500 or even more for an “adoption”. Bridges is truly selling litters for breeds for monetary gain. As was stated in your writing, when you adopted your dog, you spend $200 on product from that store. Hmmmm, one would think they could figure this out. It is sad that anyone owing a animal product store cannot see the importance of steering their customers to adoption rather than purchasing from a breeder. My wife and I too will join in the boycott and stop shopping at Bridges!

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    • Kimberly Says:

      Scott, thank you so much for joining such an important cause. I’ve never shopped at Bridges Pets myself, but 3 years ago I wouldn’t have thought it was that big of a deal. I’ve learned a lot and now know that it very much is a big deal and I want more people to take a step back from the cute puppies and think about the harm the choice pet stores are causing by making the business decision to sell puppies and kittens for profit.

      I paid $400 for our puppy, Blue. That $400 included vaccinations, neuter, microchipping, and dew claw surgery. Bridges Pets is charging for just the puppy and the families are going home and footing the bill for an extra $300-$400 for the rest. What frightens me is what if they decide to save money and not have their puppy spayed or neutered.

      I just have so many questions and the answers Bridges Pets is providing just aren’t good enough. And to blame rescue groups for dog deaths is truly sad.

      Thanks so much for your support!!!
      Kimberly recently published..Why Natural Balance Pulls Support in Light of the Bridges Pets BoycottMy Profile
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  9. Vicki Says:

    Too bad that Bridges Pets couldn’t put forth a little more effort and patience to work with rescues and shelters who are understaffed and rely on volunteers. Too bad they don’t seem to understand that the only way to get rid of puppy mills is to remove the financial incentive by denying them a place to sell their puppies. I won’t set foot in their shop until they quit selling puppies and have shared this story on facebook hoping that others will do likewise.
    Vicki recently published..Willis Tucker Snohomish County Park Off Leash Dog Area RevistedMy Profile

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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thank you so much for the support, Vicki – because of this experience, I will walk out of any pet store (without a purchase) that is selling puppies and kittens. I tried to reach out to Briges Pets, but they don’t respond to emails or messages on Facebook. Others have implored them to consider a different option and they just delete these comments from Facebook. That just shows me that they aren’t interested in working with rescue groups. At first, I really wanted to consider their point of view, now I see that they’re more interested in making money than animal welfare. Too bad that they can’t see that by supporting rescue, they’re also building a solid, loyal customer base.

      Thanks again for sharing my article.
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  10. ElleW Says:

    The sense I get is that Bridges Pets wants the goodwill that comes along with supporting rescue organizations but doesn’t care enough to put much effort into it. There are plenty of puppies and older dogs with great temperaments that are waiting in shelters to be adopted. I agree with the posting saying that many purchases of puppies and kittens are impulse buys. That is a huge decision to make on the fly when you consider how long a healthy pet will likely live. If people who buy puppies from pet stores would do their research, they would learn that pet store puppies often come with parasites and other health issues that aren’t always evident right away. I don’t understand why people would willingly spend so much at a pet store when they can buy a healthier puppy for a much lower price from a rescue. Puppies in shelters are just as adorable as those sold in pet stores. I live nowhere near Washington so I can’t participate in this boycott, but in my state of Connecticut we are trying to ban sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores. Only sixteen in the state still do. Forums like this and people talking about these issues will help educate the public about puppy mills and backyard breeders. I believe that if the general public were more informed about the business of puppy sales, changes would be made. As Paul McCartney once said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarians.”

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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thanks for visiting, Ellen – this was my first time participating in something like this and it really changed the way I look at rescue and our dogs. What’s so disappointing is that so many people still don’t get it. I saw a couple throw a tantrum because they couldn’t take home a cat 5 minutes before a store closed. They didn’t want to complete an application or wait during the processing period. They weren’t picking up a bag of food – it was a life. So many people still need to be informed.
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