jen over at Inu Baka asked: I was always a bit confused that if someone wanted to lay down so much money for a puppy, why not go to the breeder that already has a jump start on the social training and health part covered? Convenience? Fear of screening process?
I'm not sure I can answer this. Now you've got me seriously thinking, Jen, and I think what I'll have to do is make my theories here, ask customers at work, and then get back to you.
People ask me, "So what do I have to do to get this dog? Is there an application process or something?" It gets asked a lot. Sometimes I wonder if people mistakenly believe that our dogs are rescues. I honestly can't think of anything we do that would lead people to that conclusion. Sometimes I think people are letting themselves believe that, because they then feel better about what they're doing. In a, if-I-say-it-enough-it'll-be-true kind of way. Many people resist the term "purchase" even while filling out our warranty papers, and will repeatedly say that they're "adopting." "I adopted a dog from here a few years ago." This gets said very frequently. It always kind of irritates me. I'm not even sure I could say why. Adopting, to me, just sort of implies doing a community service, a good deed. Purchasing, not so much. So I sort of feel like they're giving themselves credit, a pat on the back, that they don't deserve when they insist on saying that they're "adopting" one of my dogs. Sometimes I try to console myself with, "Well, maybe it's because they think of their dogs as family. You don't buy family." Which is why I don't say anything about it when it gets said anymore. I have in the past made the distinction for people.
Here's what I think.
People who want instant gratification.
These people want what they want and they want it NOW. They want a dog, they want to go home with it NOW. They don't want to be put on a breeder's waiting list for a litter that isn't even bred yet. They don't want to sit through an application and screening process for adopting. Most of the time they don't even want to take the time to walk around the store with us and buy supplies. Now, now, now.
People who think they're saving the puppies.
Everything you read about stores that sell puppies say DON'T BUY THE DOGS, even if you feel like you're saving them. Because that just fuels the industry. And they're right. If you're absolutely against selling dogs in stores, don't buy them because you feel sorry for them or because you want to "save" them. I certainly don't believe that all pet stores that sell dogs are like ours. I rather think we are an exception rather than the rule, sadly. But if you're against dogs being sold in stores, even if the dog looks like it's in dire condition, do not buy the dog. Call the SPCA. That's the way to save them. In my store, I'll tell you right now, they don't need saving. Half the time, they've already been saved. They have food, they have veterinary care, and nothing is going to happen to them. They're fine. They don't need saving, so if the only reason someone is thinking of buying a dog from a pet store is to "save" it, I can say with a clear conscience - don't.
People who came in with absolutely no intention of buying a dog, and fell in love.
This happens more than one would think. I hear all the time, "I only came in here for a bag of dog food and I left with a dog!" or, 'You know, this is how it happened with my last dog. I just came in here for one 5 dollar thing, and now look!"
People who are looking for a certain breed, and honestly have no other ideas where to look.
If they don't see it in the classifieds, chances are, we're the next stop. I think they just honestly don't know where else to look for what they want, especially if what they want isn't a Labrador, Golden Retriever, Pit Bull, or mix of any of the previous three.
Lots of people say to me, "I went to the SPCA, and all they have is Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes."
A note here: Our SPCA is a bit different. There is one 15 minutes away from the store, and all they take is big dogs. All the smaller dogs go to the SPCA facility about 2 hours away. Why that is, I couldn't tell you, I just know it is. And unfortunately, 100% of big homeless dogs around here are pits and pit mixes. And what's popular right now are small dogs. That don't shed. All we have are small kennels. We only have 3 big kennels. So people looking for the smaller dogs, they're probably not going to make a 2 hour drive to check out the smaller homeless dogs at the other SPCA unless they're really dead set on adopting.
Or, "I really wanted to save a life and adopt, but I got rejected."
This hurts so much in so many ways. I really wish a lot of rescues, including the SPCA, would relax their standards a little. Just because they get rejected from a rescue doesn't mean they're not going to get a dog. The rejection hasn't solved anything. It just means one homeless dog missed out. If they want a dog that bad, they're just going to buy one. Rejecting them seems pointless to me unless there are some serious red flags. I understand, and the way I always explain it to people is that these organizations are typically trying to put themselves out of business. They don't want to have to do what they do, and so they try to make sure that the dogs they place aren't going to go through the same thing again, later. And yet.. It always seems so tragic when they immediately come to the store to buy one, instead.
Everyone wants a puppy, nobody wants a dog.
It's true. Tragic, and true. We have puppies. People want puppies. The SPCA has dogs. Nobody wants dogs. People have this notion that because rescues usually come with baggage, that also makes them dangerous. As in all things, people are afraid of the unknown. Even when the SPCA happens upon some puppies, they don't last long there either. They'll have a list of prospective owners a mile long, while dogs that have been there for months are languishing. I have actually had people say to me that they wouldn't adopt an adult dog because the lack of histories on them makes them uneasy.
So, here's a few of my guesses on why people buy dogs from us. These are just guesses, based on what I hear customers say. I really do want to ask customers now and get it from the source. I'll have to think of a way to do that without sounding hugely creepy.