I look at my stats and I keep seeing a particular phrase come up in my search key words.
What do they do with the dogs that don't sell in a pet store?
This must be a question on everyone's minds, because I got asked that a lot by customers at the store.
"What do you do with them if they're here too long?"
About two years into my stint as a pet store employee I got thoroughly fed up with the question and answered, "Too long for what? They don't have expiration dates stamped on them."
Some people honestly believe that pet stores just dump unsold puppies at the SPCA, apparently. I'm not sure why they would think that. I got the impression from most people who asked that they weren't honestly concerned for the welfare of the puppies, they were hinting for a chance at a free dog. It doesn't work that way. If you want a free puppy there are lots of "oops" litters that happen every 6-7 months. Just keep the word out that you're looking for one and you'll find one, promise. (Free dogs tend to not be very free, though, once you factor in all the vet work they need. Just a word of caution.) The owner didn't pay hundreds of dollars for this puppy just to turn around and give him away because someone doesn't buy him immediately. (If that were the case, every employee at the store would probably have a bazillion dogs.)
So what does happen to the ones that don't sell in a pet store?
They all sell, eventually. It's just a matter of when. When a puppy has been there for a long time, this is what happens:
The puppy gets a name.
The pet store employees typically get super attached to the puppy. The pet store employees bug the hell out of the owner thirty times a day that, "Really, we need a store dog."
The pet store employees keep the puppy out of the cage as much as possible because s/he's been in the damn kennel long enough.
You can usually find the puppy within minutes of opening or closing running loose in the store, chasing employees and playing with expensive dog toys that "just came out of the packaging" or developed some other mysterious defect that prevents it from being sold.
In my case, I'd start to train them, a la Beretta. A trained dog is a draw, they're more likely to get a home if they know at least some manners and can demonstrate a willingness to please people.
So that's what happens when puppies are at pet stores for a long time. They don't take them out back and shoot them, they don't send them back to the breeder, they don't send them to the SPCA, and they don't give them away free to the first person who asks.
Keep in mind: Even with a two to three hundred dollar mark-up on the puppies, they don't make much money on them (unless they have an outrageous mark-up, which apparently some stores do). They're making money on the supplies they sell with the puppy. So while ideally they would like to see a high turn-over of puppies (and usually do), the money lost on a puppy who has been there for more than three weeks will be made up for to at least breaking even point when the puppy finally does sell.