Friday, November 18, 2011

A Belated Comment on Paws R Us Kennel's Demise

I've blogged before about the puppy mill operation formerly known as Paws 'R' Us, in Shawville QC - most notably, this post was one of the highest traffic generators on this blog ever. Thankfully, this operation was recently shut down by the authorities in Quebec.
The owners of a dog-breeding kennel near Shawville say more than 400 dogs were taken away Friday after investigators showed up armed with a warrant. ANIMA-Quebec employees arrived Friday morning to inspect the kennel in Clarendon Township, about 90 minutes northwest of Ottawa, said owner Charlene Labombard. They left, but came back to the Paws “R” Us kennel around 4:30 p.m. with a warrant to seize all the dogs. - Ottawa Citizen
However, the seizure and subsequent focus on pet stores and puppy mills (each one yin to the other's yang) prompted Citzen columnist Kelly Egan to write this puff piece defending a local pet store owner who still sells puppies.

To set the record straight, I wrote to the Citizen, and my letter was considered for publication - they called me to verify details, which they don't do unless they plan to publish - but was bumped by some other local controversy. Here, though, for those who have followed the Paws R Us saga, is what I wrote:

Kelly Egan's fawning column about local pet store operator Mike Haynes needs to be challenged. 

Mr Haynes claims that he "knows exactly where his animals come from. He has long-standing relationships with his suppliers, he has visited their properties, he has inspected their kennels; he knows their vets." No pet shop operator would say otherwise. 

It may or may not be true, but if it is true it is a rare exception. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet stores in North America come from large puppy brokerage companies such as the Hunte Corporation, who in turn source their animals from anywhere they can get a good price. Hunte, based in Missouri, sells 90,000 puppies a year to pet stores across the continent. CBC's Marketplace did a show on this issue, and every single pet shop operator they spoke to made the same claims as Mr. Haynes, while at the same time shipping Hunte puppies on to the unsuspecting consumer. 

I would also respectfully suggest that if Mr. Haynes' businesses can't turn a profit from the food, accessories, grooming products, books and multitude of other pet products that make up a multi-billion industry, without the need to sell dogs, he should perhaps look for a different line of work.

Kelly Egan is right about one thing though - pet shops are only part of the problem. People who go to collect a dog from a breeder and find that they are "shocked by the conditions," and "There were filthy cages all over the kitchen floor - even one on the stove - and the operator herself was a mess." and still buy the dog... those are the problem. 

What you should have done, Mr. Egan, is walked away, made a call to the Humane Society, and kept your money in your wallet. You didn't "rescue" a dog - you enabled an unscrupulous and inhumane breeder to keep on trucking.

An educated and responsible consumer is in the end the only answer to the problem of puppy milling. Egan's misleading column certainly does not serve that end.