Pet Stores and Consumer Protection
Iowa’s pet shops that sell puppies have a track record of not meeting minimum animal care standards.
While the majority of Iowa’s pet stores partner with local animal shelters to adopt out pets, four Iowa pet stores continue to sell puppies purchased from a commercial dog breeder, many of which are puppy mills. Pet stores are not often required to disclose the origin of the pet animal they sell, its medical history, and more. Iowa consumers deserve to have the information they need to make an informed choice when considering the purchase of a puppy from a pet store.
Puppies in Pet Stores
Pet stores often support the puppy mill industry because the suppliers of pet stores are largely dog breeding operations, many of which are puppy mills. Puppies sold in pet stores come from all over the country, and many from a puppy mill where sick and injured puppies had been found repeatedly by federal or state inspectors.
A puppy mill is a dog breeding operation or facility, which puts the profit of an animal over the health, safety, and welfare of the animal. A puppy mill will sell an animal for monetary compensation to a dog auction, pet store, online, or direct to the consumer. In a puppy mill, the physical, psychological, or behavioral needs of all or some of the dogs are not being consistently fulfilled due to inadequate housing, shelter, staffing, nutrition, socialization, sanitation, exercise, veterinary care, or inappropriate breeding.
In addition, pet stores are not often required to disclose the origin of the pet animal they sell, its medical background, and more. In many situations, consumers purchase a pet animal only to find it’s rampant with disease or illness – ranging from seizures to respiratory infections, diarrhea, and vomiting – due to the fact the animal was likely born and raised in a problematic breeding operation where it lacked access to basic care.
Protecting the Puppy and Consumer
While the majority of Iowa’s pet stores partner with local animal shelters to adopt out pets, four Iowa pet stores continue to sell puppies purchased from a commercial dog breeder. Consumers have little information about where the animal comes from, if that breeding facility meets state and federal health, safety, welfare requirements, the pet's medical history, or the true cost of purchasing that pet.
Iowa’s pet shops that sell puppies have a track record of not meeting minimum animal care standards. Iowa’s Administrative Rules Review Committee approved IDALS’ Administrative Rules Chapter in January 2020 with enforcement beginning in June 2020. Since then Petland (in Iowa City) has received “non-compliant” inspections from the state four times; The Bird Cage (in Council Bluffs) and The Dog House Etc (in Sheldon) have also received numerous “non-compliant” inspection reports in that time. The most common violations have included overcrowded cages, rusty and jagged cages, and a lack of solid resting areas for each puppy. As such, these pet stores Iowa has both failed to provide adequate housing or primary enclosures and failed to comply with IDALS rules.
Additionally, consumers who are caught up in the moment of adding a new four-legged family member often overlook the fine print of their purchase contracts. These pet stores routinely offer high interest financing for puppy purchases, with Petland in Iowa City having been documented as offering interest terms as high as 188%.
Enacting Better Legislation
There’s a growing trend nationwide, including neighboring Illinois, which have passed laws requiring pet stores transparency. We can better protect Iowans with legislation that will require the upfront presentation and disclosure, both in the store and online, of where the pet animal was supplied from, their medical history, and the true financial investment of purchasing a pet.
What can you do?
Call or e-mail your state legislator today to respectfully request Iowa to pass legislation that gives consumers the information they need to make an informed choice when considering the purchase of a puppy from a pet store.
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