Pet stores in America are unfeasible unless they buy from puppy mills

Joyce Cohen who sits on the advisory board of the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act of, I believe, the Aurora City Council, said that pet stores are simply unviable i.e. they can’t make enough money if they don’t buy puppies and kittens from “puppy mills” which is a reference to irresponsible breeders with a tendency to turn out unhealthy and poorly socialised companion animals specifically to sell at pet stores.

Pet dog at Perfect Pets
Pet dog at Perfect Pets at Centennial, Aurora. Image in the public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Her remark was made in the discussion about Aurora City Council’s decision to ban the sale of commercially-bred cats and dogs in pet stores. Aurora joins other cities who’ve done likewise. One news media outlet (The Denver Gazette) said that it’s an absolute ban on cats and dogs in pet stores but that is incorrect. This is a ban on commercially-bred cats and dogs but they can, as I understand it, sell cats and dogs from rescues which is the whole point of the change in the law.

Nathan Winograd gets it right when he says that “Under the new law, pet stores can partner with rescue groups and animal shelters to have animals available. Such laws do three things:

  • Encourage people to adopt/rescue;
  • educate the community about dog and cat (and rabbit) abuse in mills;
  • stop that abuse.

And they work.”

We know these laws work because we can gauge the impact across America. “Thanks to the passage of these laws nationwide, the number of commercial breeders in the US has declined by 30%”. That means less animal cruelty and more adoptions from shelters. Saving lives.

But it is interesting that according to Joyce Cohen, pet stores are simply unviable unless they are selling cheaply bought cats and dogs from puppy mills. That would seem to be incorrect; entirely incorrect. If it was correct then every pet store in Aurora would go bust very quickly. And I don’t think that is happening. Surely, they can make enough money from pet products of all kinds to make a decent profit?

Although, this kind of law is very provocative to many people. Of course, the animal advocates and people like me welcome them unequivocally. The business people dislike them a lot because the ordinance hobbles their businesses, the argue. Yes, it means that they are going to have to sell ordinary -looking dogs and not the extreme-bred dog breeds such as French bulldogs which are known to be inherently unhealthy with short life spans. They look interesting and attract customers and therefore they are more commercial.

Some council members think that the better route would be to simply introduce laws which better regulate pet stores.

For example, Jens Larsen, the owner of Denver Perfect Pets in Centennial, said that the new ordinance is “wrongheaded”. He added that, “Not all people are evil or wrong that are in this business. I’ve never had any violations or citations against me. The ordinance banning the sale of puppies and kittens by licensed and regulated breeders that sell to pet stores is just wrong”. Please see the follow-up note below on this particular pet store.

Of course, he would say that being a person who sells pets from a shop. But it is very easy to see that it is immoral to sell cats and dogs bred specifically to sell in pet stores when there are animal rescues down the road bulging at the seams having to euthanise animals because they haven’t got enough space for incoming animals and because they don’t properly run a no-kill policy.

Selling commercially-bred pets in pet stores can lead to the unnecessary deaths of animals in rescue centres. That is unsustainably from an ethical viewpoint. That is wrong-headed and not a law which bans the sale of commercially bred cats and dogs. The business people tend to conveniently ignore the ethical issues and focus on the commercial ones. That is understandable because their primary objective is to make money but it isn’t enough because a community such as Aurora has a responsibility towards the vulnerable animals who share the community with them. That’s the mark of a civilised society.


While looking for a picture of Jens Larsen’s store, I rapidly found a story with the headline, “Centennial pet shop accused of selling sick dogs to customers”. And that store is Jan Larsen’s. The report is that many customers have complained that Jens Larsen is selling sick dogs to the public. An example was a dachshund puppy which came from Perfect Pets. The dog was so sick that he needed to be on oxygen but he did survive. At one stage they thought that he would not. But as you can see you can end up buying sick dogs from pet stores and the owner has to fork out a lot of money in veterinary bills to ensure that the animal survives. This is entirely immoral.

An employee at Perfect Pets accused the place of being too dusty which had a negative impact on the animals’ health. That may be one reason but the other reason is buying animals from puppy mills. It can be difficult to find out where they get them from. On Yelp, Perfect Pets gets 2 stars from 5 (69 reviews) which points to problems.

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