There is a new pet store that recently opened in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
At first, I was extremely excited as it was called Pet Fashion — I love pets and I love fashion. And who isn’t about some good dog/kitty pet fashion?
Upon its opening, a few animal non-profit groups linked this store to the large-scale breeding industry in Missouri (no shocker there, given my experience with Zoey). So, I figured I would do a little investigating to find out the truth for myself. The first time I strolled in I showed interest in a particular puppy (for the record, the rest of this story always breaks my heart). I played with the puppy for a bit and asked an employee about how the process of buying a puppy worked (I was playing dumb). This gentleman explained the process for a few minutes, at which point I asked about the dog’s medical history. He happily pulled out the file on this little pup, which displayed where she had had her shots. I then asked where the store got her from, so he showed me her registration, which was from a breeder in Missouri. I made note of the breeder and later discovered that this particular breeder does indeed have a large breeding operation. At that point, I left the store, politely indicating that I would think about what to do, given that buying a dog was a tough decision. I give credit where credit is due in that the pet store employee didn’t lie to me which is more than I can say about my little UES friend across the park.
One of my close friends, Debbie, and I went in this past weekend. Debbie wanted to learn exactly how the breeder/pet store process/relationship worked. We walked in and looked over a few dogs. At that point, she told the employees that while a particular puppy in the store might have stolen her heart, she really was looking for a certain breed that didn’t appear to be in the store. The employee confirmed this but indicated that they they could easily get one for her. Debbie continued to question him (that’s my girl), asking increasingly detailed questions about how the process worked.
Eventually, the employee, who wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, became very confused. Debbie thereupon swooped in for the kill, specifically inquiring as to how the store got such cute puppies. He replied from breeders and Debbie countered with “Where are these breeders?” Without a thought, he responded, “New York.” It was now Debbie’s turn to become confused so she asked him to confirm where in fact the dogs came from in New York, telling him that it was good the store only used local breeders because she didn’t want a dog from a puppy mill.
The young employee then indicated that the dogs were not only bred in New York State but that they had been bred IN NEW YORK CITY.
We asked for clarification and was told again that in fact the dogs were born, bred and raised in Manhattan.
We then indicated that we would think about whether to purchase this certain breed of dog and get back to him ASAP. Debbie agreed that I deserved an Academy Award for keeping a straight face throughout this conversation, since I knew the real truth.
There were so many things wrong with this episode that I don’t even know where to begin to comment, so I will let you all take from it what you will. I’ll say this though: I’ll bet you are as surprised as I am that NYC has a thriving large-scale breeding industry.