Long beleaguered by public pressure, news investigations and disparaging online reviews, Joe Young, owner of Pets-R-Us, announced today an end to the sales of puppies in his Meadowood Mall pet store.
"This is a great day for our movement to end the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail stores as they are largely sourced from puppy mills," said Billy Howard, founding organizer of Puppy Mill Free Reno.
Mr. Howard has been working with Mr. Young for the past seven months for the conversion. "This is a great day not only for our local community but for the dogs in awful conditions all across the nation with yet another store not trafficking animals from the reprehensible puppy mill industry."
"Puppy mill" is a term used by activists for large scale breeding operations where the amount of animals kept in kennels (often stacked on top of each other) precludes the care they need including basic veterinarian exams and treatment, grooming and oral hygiene, let alone a kind and loving hand.
"Many supply-only stores are thriving in the area. Local shelters and rescue organizations are working with the stores to host adoption days and special events. This even includes the big box national-chain stores in our area which long ago stopped selling dogs, cats and rabbits and now ferrets are joining the list."
According to the Nevada Humane Society, animals are surrendered in Washoe County at a rate three times the national average.
"With the great need we have in our own community, do we really want dogs and cats trafficked here from Indiana, the Amish Puppy Mills in Ohio, or Missouri the puppy mill capital of the world?" asked Howard.
Washoe County has been deemed one of the "safest counties in the country to be a dog" by Maddie's Fund, a California watchdog and philanthropic foundation dedicated to creating a no-kill nation. "There are more than enough animals in our world-class shelters and with rescue groups."
Shelter dogs and cats come with all the necessary shots, full veterinary examination, are dewormed and have been spayed or neutered and microchipped, all included in a nominal price.
Over ⅔ of all pet stores across the country sell pet supplies-only while hosting adoption events with local shelters and rescues. "The best way to get a new animal is to adopt. Puppies are cute, but need a tremendous amount of time and effort. A middle aged or even elderly dog or cat can make a great new loyal family member."
Puppy Mill Free Reno was started soon after San Diego passed the continent's 32nd initiative to end the sale of dogs, cats (and often rabbits) in retail stores on 7/11/2013. Over the past fifteen months Mr. Howard has amassed over 13,000 signatures, 85% local, and gained the endorsement of over 100 local businesses, non-profit organizations and candidates.
According to national studies, large-scale breeders are a problem because profit is the motivator and therefore the animal's welfare is discarded. Dogs are bred at the first possible heat cycle and are impregnated at every single cycle until they die or can no longer produce at which time they are tossed aside for the next breeding female. National studies show that these dogs are not only overbred, many dogs are inbred and their offspring can have long term diseases resulting in high veterinarian bills. Behavior can be a problem as trainers say that behavior is imprinted in the first few weeks, resulting in large expenses for a family or surrenders to local shelters placing the burden on donors and taxpayers.
Along with supplies and gifts for family pets, Mr. Young will host adoptions of both dogs and cats. That will leave only one other store in the state of Nevada outside of the greater Las Vegas region that sells dog or cats sourced from the puppy distribution paradigm in the retail environment.