Where to from here?

So here we are, getting toward the end of 2015. How about a new years wish for shelter shops to become a reality?

While wishful thinking is great for our optimism, there’s a few things that you can do in the meantime to promote the idea of putting shelter animals in to pet shops.

  1. Share tweets, Facebook posts, everything! Sharing is a great way to spread awareness, and you might just catch someone who develops a genuine interest in the cause
    2. Write to your local state member of parliament. Ultimately it’s the government who pass the laws around here, so let’s let them know that this is something we passionately care about!
    3. Sign a petition. Always be on the lookout for petitions from sites like change.org. They are a great way to represent public opinion.
    4. Word of mouth. Not saying that you have to religiously inform others about the cause in every conversation you have, but if it comes up it might be worth letting people know about puppy farms and their connections to pet shops.

    We’re all human, and there’s only so much you can do. Even if you don’t feel like you’re making a life changing difference by sharing and writing, you may actually be influencing others and informing their opinion on the matter. Maybe your cousin’s husband’s friend notices the post shared and changes their mind about purchasing a puppy from a pet shop and instead turns to a shelter. That’s a win!



Back to the future: 2045 edition!

With ‘Back to the Future’ being a highlight of October 21st this month, I thought it might be interesting to bring up the future of pet ownership.

back to the future

The year is 2015. We still have pet shops inadvertently helping puppy farms by keeping up demand. So maybe Doc and Marty didn’t choose the best time to travel in to the future. But what about in another 30 years time? Where could we be then?

Imagine 2045. Humans split between life on earth and a colony on mars. Will we still have pets? I’d say so. The last 14,000 years or so we have sustained a relationship with our domestic companions so 30 years should be no different.

Maybe kids walk the family dog with a hoverboard in tow. Maybe our medical advances have also extended to the veterinary side. No more hip dysplasia, cataracts or cancer! Wouldn’t that be an achievement for our furry friends.

A future Australia might not need to euthanise shelter animals on a large scale. Shelters might be far emptier than they are in the present day. Although I don’t think we would ever have a utopian society so shelters being entirely empty is a bit of wishful thinking. But hey, one can hope!

If we keep campaigning and pushing our agenda into the spotlight, this future can one day be a reality.


Your pet is doing more for you than you know!

Ultimately this campaign is about giving all pets a loving chance at having a family. So today we’re going to have a look at the other side of the story. The family adopting the pet. What can having a pet do for you? It’s actually quite a bit!

Take a look at the health benefits of having a pet (courtesy of the RSPCA http://kb.rspca.org.au/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-pet-ownership_408.html):

–  Increased cardiovascular health (lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides and in men, lower cholesterol)
–  Increased physical activity. Your dog can motivate you to walk with him or her! Besides, who doesn’t like seeing those puppy eyes get all lit up at the prospect of a walk
–  Fewer visits to the doctor
– Growing up with a dog (and other pets to a lesser extent) during infancy may help to strengthen the immune system and may reduce the risk of allergies
– Children who have pets are less likely to miss days of school due to illness

Don’t forget about psychological health too!
Pets are able to make us more empathetic and they can cheer us up too. There’s a reason why therapy dogs exist!

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Gene Mohr, a retired Tech. Sergeant, pets Mollie, a three year old Sheltie at Langley Hospital Jan. 30.  Mollie does about 10 visits throughout the Hampton Roads Area.  This is her third week visiting Langley Air Force Base.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Zachary Wolf)
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — Gene Mohr, a retired Tech. Sergeant, pets Mollie, a three year old Sheltie at Langley Hospital Jan. 30. Mollie does about 10 visits throughout the Hampton Roads Area. This is her third week visiting Langley Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Zachary Wolf)


But the pet shop has papers saying that the animal is from a reputable breeder!

Heartbreaking stories litter the online space about families who purchased a pet from a pet shop, only to have to either spend exorbitant amounts of money on medical treatment or euthanise them. These poor animals, who had no choice in the matter, are sick as a result of irresponsible breeding at puppy farms.

Take this example:   Pet industry peak body in turmoil after consumers misled about puppy farm

Despite being a supposed guaranteed retail store of the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA), the pet store where this puppy was sold stated that they came from a reputable breeder. It was in fact found to be a puppy farm 4000km away in NSW.

This goes to show that although you may think that buying an animal from a pet shop is ok because they have the ‘proper forms’, they are also able to lie to make a profit.

It’s a horrendous trade that leads to the deaths of many innocent dogs and cats. The reason puppy farms still thrive in NSW is due to demand. If we can cut short this need for more and more puppies, we can stop cases like the above from happening.
This campaign is aiming to achieve this very important goal.


Removing the stigma

This month I typed up a post about the myths regarding shelter animals. I just recently discovered a video which conveys this so well. Brazilian organisation Associacao Quatro Patinhas (Association Four Paws in english) conducted an experiment where they replaced the animals in a pet shop with shelter animals. The customers were happy to take these dogs, especially when informed that they were free of charge! No hesitation, no stigma. Have a look here:

Priceless Pets
It’s reminiscent of a coca cola campaign to remove labels. If you’re interested in seeing that one, watch it here:

Remove labels this ramadan

The message conveyed in that video is that despite outer appearances, everyone deserves to be treated equally. And that’s exactly the same with shelter dogs.



Unfortunately there are some myths floating around in society about shelter animals, and it can lead to stigma and therefor lack of adoption.

Let’s do our best impersonation of Jaime and Adam and get to myth busting.

Myth 1: This dog/cat is in the shelter because something is wrong with them
While some pets may have to be relinquished by a family due to behavioural problems, many dogs and cats are abandoned due to sheer neglect. Sadly, they did not have a choice.

Myth 2: All shelter animals are older
There are certainly puppies in animal shelters! But also think about it this way too… if you adopted an older dog you could bypass the chew phase and the pee everywhere phase. You can provide a dog with a loving home to live out the rest of their days, and they would be eternally grateful for you to do that. We think that older dogs are just as cute too!

Myth 3: Shelters don’t have purebred dogs
Nope! A U.S study found that 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred (or 1 in 4)
Source: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/ridiculous-myths-about-shelter-pets/

The benefits far outweigh any possible negatives! I’ll also be writing a post about the health benefits of pets, just in case you need some more convincing.


Blah blah blah academic stuff blah blah

I should probably get some boring stuff out of the way, right?

A campaign based in facts and supported by evidence is a strong one. So I’ve for some academic literature on the matter. Don’t worry, you’re not going to have to read any dense work by a professor. I’ll make up a little summary to keep it user friendly.

Today we’ll be looking at one particular article. It’s from the U.S, so obviously laws and regulations won’t exactly be the same, but it makes a good point that is supported by evidence. I’ll provide the reference the bottom of this post so that you can read a bit further if you so please.

This article is titled ‘A local approach to a national problem: local ordinances as a means of curbing puppy mill production and pet overpopulation’. The basic premise of the article is that federal regulations are not doing enough to stop puppy farms and pet shops sourcing from puppy farms, so the solution is to turn to local municipalities.

Without getting too wrapped up in legal lingo, municipalities can enact ‘local ordinances’ (like regulations) that prohibit the sale of pets (dogs in particular) from pet stores. The article discovered that enacting these ordinances were more effective in terms of conveying what the citizens of that community wanted, and also being easier for sales to understand.

So how can we bring this back to the land down under? Try emailing your local council, asking about pet sale regulation and bringing it back to the issue of puppy farms in particular.

Kenny, Krysten, ‘A local approach to a national problem: local ordinances as a means of curbing puppy mill production and pet overpopulation’ Albany Law Review, Fall, 2011, Vol.75(1), p.379(28) [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Location, location, location

Why do people buy from pet shops? In a campaign like this, it’s something we ask often. Now just to set something straight first up, I’m not trying to demonise people who buy from, or have bought from, pet shops. If you scroll down through my last posts, you’ll see that I conducted a bit of a survey about this. One of the questions was WHY the purchase was made from the pet shop, and the other was asking about AWARENESS of puppy farms. Now 46% of the respondents were unaware of the often terrible conditions so it’s not as there are people who go out and maliciously buy at pet shops. I have seen elsewhere online where people get attacked by others for buying from a pet shop or breeder. I don’t believe that that is the way to conduct this campaign. Two-way dialogue and education is the ultimate goal of this campaign.

Now on to the reasons!

Using my primary research as the main example, the biggest reason for purchasing from a pet shop was convenience. Because hey, why drive an hour west to a shelter if there is a shopping centre with a pet shop just 5 minutes away?

Just to give you an idea, I’ve added in a map of Sydney animal shelters (relying on google’s accuracy of course). While I know that Sydney does not represent all of NSW, all the respondents to my survey were from Sydney.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 3.19.52 pm

Looking here, you can see that there is a certainly a lack of shelters in the east, north and some parts of the west.
Now we enter in pet shops Sydney and….
Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 3.22.09 pm
Voila. A huge difference. Now not all of these would stock animals. But even if some did, and this campaign was successful, it would make a huge difference. Convenience is a powerful force!


“There’s no such thing as a good breeder”

So with campaigns like this, you get varying degrees of what people think should be done. You might be thinking something along the lines of “well, why keep pet shops at all? Get rid of them!”. My stance on this is to keep the middle ground. One of my very first posts showed how big of a factor convenience was to shopping at pet shops. Keep the location, but sell the rescue dogs. I’d say that’s a win win!

But on to my main topic for the day: breeders. It can be pretty controversial. I’ve certainly heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as a good breeder” more than once.

Is this really true? Not really. Just like many other groups, a broad label cannot be applied to all breeders.

It’s most certainly encouraged to give a shelter dog a chance first, but if a certain breed is unavailable at a shelter then a good breeder is a worthy second choice. Many breeders don’t even make a profit due to the level of care they are providing for their dogs!
Here are the RSPCA’s guidelines for finding a good breeder:

Plan ahead and aim to find good homes for every puppy they breed
Provide a high standard of care and living conditions for all their dogs
Are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their dogs
Are open to questions and provide a complete history of the puppy
Make sure that you will suit the puppy and the puppy will suit you
Breed to produce happy, healthy pets, free from known genetic disorders
Provide ongoing support and information to new owners
Provide a guarantee
Provide references on request
Meet all their legal requirements
Source: http://kb.rspca.org.au/How-do-I-find-a-good-dog-breeder_335.html


Will NSW be next…

Victoria had a major victory that has continued throughout this year. Imagine this: animals who have been stuck in a shelter now being able to have a decent chance at being accepted into a loving home. All because they can now be sold through pet shops. Victorian Labour introduced this legislation in cooperation with RSPCA Victoria.
Now we ask the question: if Victoria can do it, why can’t NSW? After all, due to us having the biggest pet population in Australia, the impact would be even greater (and better) here.
Despite there being news in early 2015 about a possible labor promise for NSW (http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/nsw-election-2015-labor-to-ban-puppies-from-pet-shops-20150320-1m3x88.html), we have to continue to push the current government.
We have to take action. Please, email or write a letter to your local member to stress the importance of this issue.
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