Glad you dropped by today! As you can see by the title of this post, I want to touch on a controversial topic. I’ve done alot of research online for, well, pretty much all things guinea pigs. How I enjoy looking at all the cute pictures of random guinea pigs I will never actually meet! The internet is also a great place to find out how to take care of them and to make sure you’re doing things right. Through all my web adventures I’ve been coming across alot of stories, comments, etc. putting down pet stores. I am not writing this post as a means to call anybody out or even disprove some of these negative comments— I know that some of them are true. But let’s stand back together and examine the two sides from, hopefully, a non-biased opinion.

1. Pet stores don’t know how to take care of their animals

Yes! To this I will 98% agree. If you walk into the same pet store five times a week during varying work shifts you will see I don’t know how many different employees. Many of those employees are there simply to make money— to them it’s just a job. Many of them may not know much about the needs of all the animals (their knowledge is best displayed in the general upkeep of the store— usually I am not impressed). If you see unhealthy/dead animals, that is a bad sign. Do not buy from them! If you feel the need, you can try contacting their corporate office to try to remedy the problem. But before we get too carried away, I have been to some really awesome pet stores! Some of them were not big box stores and some were. Petsmart for instance, the one we bought our pigs from, was really impressive. It was clean and the animals looked healthy. The lady who helped us buy George and Patrick was very helpful. She wouldn’t even let us hold them unless we were intending to buy (she did not want to make them stressed out if it was not necessary). She asked questions such as “have you ever owned guinea pigs before?” You could tell she actually cared about these guys and didn’t want them going to the wrong home. Please don’t judge all store employees— it varies from store to store.

2. Pet store animals are always sick/ unhealthy

Once again, yes, I would say this is a very accurate statement. But it is one that takes some discretion as well. It really doesn’t matter if you buy from a pet store, breeder, or adoption facility. Every time, and I mean EVERY time, you buy a pet you need to look it over. Make sure that there are no obvious symptoms (eye discharge, labored breathing, lumps/ bumps on the skin, etc.) I will readily admit that I am more cautious when it comes to buying animals from pet stores. There have been several pets we bought that ended up having health issues. Some were unforeseen. Overall, I would hesitate to buy a pet from the store; however, if the animal looks healthy (including the animals you are not buying) and the store looks clean, I would say you have a good chance at buying a healthy animal.

3. Pet stores only buy from puppy mills, etc.

So yes, pet stores do get their animals from various places— some are not good. I have to admit, I am not sure that Petsmart or Petco sells dogs/ puppies. I know they promote adopting dogs and cats. Obviously, there are the pet stores who do sell puppies and probably do get theirs from puppy mills, but not all come from such places. As you go down the line, the sources become more blurred and uncertain. Fish? Gerbils? Birds? Fish usually come from major hatcheries and exotic pets such as chinchillas would most likely be from a breeder from who knows where. Are these reputable sources? No one but corporate probably even knows that. This is the scary part. Where do these animals come from? What kinds of conditions did they come from? Although we may never know exactly where our pets’ journeys began, we can give them a happy future. But back to the matter at hand, not all animals are taken from a bad situation. For instance, there is a lady who bought a green-cheek conure from a pet store (Petco? Petsmart? Whatever.) It had happily lived with its owner until sadly the owner passed away. Somehow the pet store got a hold of the bird and now this other woman got to buy it (sorta like adoption). Another example is when my husband and I saw this huge (and I mean huge) guinea pig at Petco. I know that thing was big and healthy (I wanted to buy him so bad) and he had most likely come from a home somewhere. From what I can tell, pet stores will sometimes sell animals like this, almost as a means to let you adopt them from their store.

4. Stop buying from pet stores— it will put them out of business

To this I say: hahahahahaha… no. I apologize for the interruption in your plans, but… this will not work. These companies have expanded all over the country. Sure they have different names, different CEOs and whatnot, but they will not be going out of businesses anytime soon. On any given day, they can have hundreds of customers come in to buy whatever. The pet stores can also offer alot of great products that you can’t get from Walmart, etc., as well as offer coupons and discounts. It would take more than a hand full of people boycotting Petsmart to make them shut their doors.

5. Adoption is the best/ only option

This is one of the biggest arguments for adoption. With thousands of animals in shelters across the world, it’s no wonder why people advocate for this. I think that if anyone is looking to buy a pet they should definitely check out local shelters first and possibly local classifieds/ Craigslist for anybody looking to “rehome” their pets. Shelters have dogs and cats of all different ages and breeds making it relatively easy to find a furry friend that you like; however, what about people who are looking for a more specialized pet or something a little more exotic? For instance, when I wanted to buy guinea pigs I checked shelters, guinea pig rescues (none of which are anywhere near me), and classified ads… for over a month. If you’re interested in the full story, check out my other post The Search Is On… For Guinea Pigs? Basically, it was ridiculous/ impossible for us to try adopting pigs. Also, as mentioned in one of my earlier points, some pets sold at pet stores are either up for adoption or have been previously owned making it sorta the same thing. Try adopting first and if it’s not possible, don’t be opposed to the idea of buying from a local store. Don’t forget, animals in pet stores need loving homes too.

If any of my points seem biased one way over the other, it was not attempted to be that way. I think adoption is a great way to go if it is at all possible. Pet stores can be a bad idea for multiple reasons; however, not all are bad. It varies from location to location and you just have to see for yourself. I have had good and bad experiences. So I guess what it comes down to is that I want you to stand back and decide for yourself what you think about this topic. Anything you would like to share? Share below!