Undercover in a suburban pet store

Today Tonight: Reporter: David Richardson; November 12, 2010

‘There are two sides in the national pet shop debate – the liberationists and the industry fighting the claim that man’s best friend has become a disposable commodity.

For three months animal liberationist Jacqueline Dalziell worked undercover in a suburban pet store.

She is leading a national campaign to stop pet shops selling pets and infiltrated a shop to see conditions for herself. An animal protester working in the very industry she’s trying to revolutionise.

“I observed breaches on almost every page of the animal welfare code of practice. Animals suffering from a range of serious health problems every day including parvo-virus, kennel cough, cat flu, vomiting, bloody stools, diarrhoea, worms, lice,” Jacqueline said.

“Pet shops are a business, they exist to make money and for no other reason. They don’t exist to take care of animals, they don’t exist to find loving homes for animals. they exist to make profit.”

Every shift she worked, Jacqueline would arm herself with a hidden camera to record what she saw. No other animal activist in the world has ever infiltrated the pet industry to see first hand what goes on behind the glass puppy cases.

“Animals in pet shops are supposed to at least be exercised 20 minutes a day. I never saw this on any shift I worked on. The only time we took puppies out of their cages to put them in playpens were in order to make sure people would buy them,” Jacqueline said.

Jacqueline says fresh stock was delivered to the store two-to-three times a week; up to four puppies at a time carted around in a large cardboard box. Jacqueline was never told where they came from. She suspects it was a puppy farm.

Jacqueline is also convinced many of the delivered animals were in poor health and this information was not passed onto prospective customers.

“If you want an animal I suggest you save a life, go to a shelter. Go to a pound and save an animal that’s otherwise healthy but going to be killed, instead of going to a pet store and fuelling a cruel industry,” she said.

Lisa Wolfenden runs a pet store, without pets, that’s what she wants all pet shops to do.

“It’s not just the sale of the puppy. It’s the on-sales, the bed, the clothing, the bowls, and everything else. You don’t just sell a puppy and they leave with a puppy. They leave with a thousand or 2,000 dollars worth of stuff as well so it’s a huge reason for having puppies in your shop but like I say you’ve got to sleep at night and I couldn’t do it,” Lisa said.

“I keep telling people when they talk to me about it they’re basically being sold by the kilo. Wrap it in plastic and hoik [sic] off two kilo’s of dog. it’s disgraceful.”

Laws exist to govern pet shops. Children are banned and there’s a three-day cooling off period. Now, the pet industry association of Australia (PIAA)has a code of conduct but if you’re not an accredited member, it’s difficult to police.

Pet industry association director Bob Croucher admits shonky operators exist but says taking pets out of stores isn’t the answer.

“What percentage of pet shops are accredited to the PIAA? Too small. Too small. Ss that the biggest problem? one of them. That’s one of the problems,” Bob said.

“I would like to see that people can only buy dogs from pet shops and particularly from PIAA stores.”

“We’re all after the same thing, we’re all after the welfare of the animal. Now, if they weren’t fighting us and just sat down and worked with us maybe we’d achieve something.”

Sydney Lord Mayor and state MP Clover Moore has twice tried to get tough pet laws introduced into parliament.

“I don’t want our pet stores to sell live animals – cats and dogs,” she said.

“At the moment we’ve got cute little animals in pet stores being bought on the impulse and then we have this really quite shocking dumping as a result. And I think it is an appalling situation and a real indictment on government and us as a community if we allow it to continue.”

More than half a million puppies will be bred and sold this year. Half will be destroyed.

With pet sales topping 1,200,000 it’s an industry with money and clout. Little has been done to toughen it up despite attempts from various animal groups to change the way we deal with our pets.

Original story go here



Filed under Pet shops, Puppy Mills

5 responses to “Undercover in a suburban pet store

  1. Jan Baker

    While there is money to make pets will be sold in pet shops……that is what these puppy farms & back yard breeders are all about…..the the pet shop picks up from there…..in the back door cheap out the front door prices sky high!!The Government has to step in & stop these puppy farmers they are the big business people…..inhumane money grabbers at the expense of the animals……unless we can advertise what is going on behind the scenes the public will NOT know……we need to confront government people to take action now……ban together take it to the top & fight for these animals…..all of us working together to give animals rights the same as people…..

  2. Lisa Wright

    Oh wow, if you ever want someone to adopt you, Jacqueline Dalziell, I will most certainly do it.

    What a brave and gutsy thing to do – Thank Dog for people like you.


  3. Merav La Franca

    It is possible for pet store to maximize profits from all the accessories people buy for their companion animals without being part of the cruel puppy mill industry and without treating animals as merchandise. They simply need to provide space to rescues who bring animals available for adoption.

    With the rescue in charge of the animal, the pet supply store only needs to provide a clean healthy appropriate space for the animals and their human caregivers during business hours. At night the rescue animals that didn’t get adopted go back to their foster homes or shelter. It’s a win win situation.

    By providing free space to rescues, the pet store will bring people into the store even that aren’t looking to acquire another animal. Just being in the store to look at the animals available for adoption spurs impulse buying of plush beds and fancy leashes etc. for the companion animal already in their care. The animals seeking homes get exposure.

    Many times people go to pet stores to buy a pet because shelters are in inconvenient locations. People seeking to buy or adopt an animal may find it inconvenient or difficult to get to a shelter. Local pet food stores are almost always in a convenient location. Of course if someone adopts a rescue animal, they need to buy food and supplies for their new family member.

    Finally, by having animals for adoption and not for sale, there is a process to screen the potential adopters to assure that the animal will have proper conditions in their adoptive homes. The adoption counselor can refuse to place the animal, whereas a store can’t refuse to sell merchandise. The store will have plenty of opportunity to sell to the adopter over the next 10 to 20 years.

  4. Good comment Merav. Here in Tasmania, the largest pet shop chain, the Animal Tucker Box, has had a change of owner and the new owner has ceased to sell puppies and kittens and I understand will be working with the RSPCA to rehome the shelter animals. It’s a great win:win!

  5. companionanimalnews

    Here is the commentary by the Pet Industry News in their newsletter to members, 15 November:

    “Today Tonight showed a story on Friday night 12th November that was recorded about two to three months ago. The story revolved around animal liberationist Jacqueline Dalziell who took a casual job in a Sydney pet shop and recorded what she saw with a hidden camera. The recording did not show any adverse problems within the shop except for a rabbit laying on its side. The story relied on what she had to say and most people in the industry would know that most of that was complete exaggeration or impossible to happen in a shopping centre pet shop – so open to public scrutiny.
    I know the pet shop to which she referred, and while they are not a PIAA store, they operate in an ethical manner. They do sell a lot of dogs which is probably why they targeted that store.
    Clover Moore who also appeared is up for re-election next March and seems quite willing to destroy the highly regulated supply and cats and dogs just to appease her animal liberation friends.”

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