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Friday, July 23, 2010

Petland Wheaton says Rescue is not Profitable

On June 22nd, I posted a blog entitled, "Petland in Wheaton Goes Adopt Only, with One Small Hiccough".  I was thrilled to find out that this particular Petland had decided to work with rescued dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, and rehome them, rather than purchase puppy mill puppies to sell in their store.  Perhaps this would set a new precedent that would be followed by other stores.   The only aspect I was not thrilled about was the fact that the adopters were given a free spay/neuter certificate rather than the animals having already been spayed/neutered prior to adoption.  I encouraged people to support the store and to let Petland Corporate know how happy people were about the change.  Their facebook fan numbers skyrocketed by 120 people in 2 days time and they started wondering where people had suddenly heard about them.  Between my efforts and the efforts of the facebook group, "Iowans Exposing Petland" who also supported the change to rescue pets, Petland Wheaton was overwhelmed with praise.

After a few short months of going rescue only, Petland Wheaton has decided to discontinue their rescue work and return to the purchase of puppy mill puppies. 

In the letter, Petland announced the end of their rescue program once the rescued pets that are currently housed in the store are rehomed.  Their current facebook status update reads, "Petland Wheaton Needs your help finding homes for our remaining adopt-a-pets! Everyone goes home for only $49.99! We are waiving the microchip registration and AKC registration ($150 value) and every pup goes home with a free bag of Nutro food! Please help us find homes for these wonderful animals!"

In the letter from the store's owner, Adam Stachowiak, that was posted on their facebook fanpage, Petland Wheaton claims to have had unexpected increases in labor to house and care for the rescue animals.  I am unsure as to why they had a more difficult time with adult animals as compared to puppies.  When we have puppies for adoption, the kennels are a MESS.  They potty in the cage, they spill their food, they trample the mess throughout their cage.  We clean them up with love and elbow grease, but puppies are much more work to keep clean than the adults are. 

Petland Wheaton also claims to have seen an increase in serious illness that they did not see "in their purebred dogs".  Diseases do not choose to infect an animal by breed or lack thereof.  The puppy mills are selling mixed breed dogs and purebreds, and you even stated that you will be purchasing both in the future. The solution to incubating diseases is to house the dogs in foster homes for two weeks prior to entering their adoption facility.  During that foster period the pets should be spayed and neutered using the same free spay/neuter certificate that they were giving to the owners at the time of adoption. 

Petland Wheaton states that they saw little support for the rescue dogs.  I would like to know their definition of support.  People made it known that they approved of the change.  By support then, did they mean that there were fewer adoptions than their usual puppy sales?  Most people who adopt rescue dogs put a lot of thought and consideration into the process making sure their lives are ready for the family addition.  Many pet store puppy purchases are sudden whims or impulse purchases.  The people see the cute little puppy and forget the work involved with raising them and potty training them.  They forget the dog is going to grow into an adult dog, sometimes a much larger dog than that puppy in the window.  Puppy purchasers are often naiively unaware that expenses and hard work will follow the purchase.  They neglect to inform their landlord about their impulse purchase, and months down the road are giving the now older dog away or selling them on craigslist.  Some of the dogs in shelters and pounds are the very dogs you sold to the person who held the cash in front of you without considering the committment needed for such a purchase.  So yes, you will see fewer adoptions than puppy purchases.  But to have 40 adoptions in a month is 40 lives made better by your efforts.  That is 40 times that you made a difference for the better.  Many shelters dream of having 40 adoptions in a month, I know I would!

I am certain that if you advertised well locally, that you could increase your volunteer rate to assist with caring for the rescue dogs while in your store.  Shelters and rescues would be more willing to support your store by purchasing products and handing out store information and coupons to their own adopters if you were dedicated to your rescue work and respected their rescue work.

To turn around after only three months of rescue and decide it is not working is not just a business decision.  It is called quitting.  The summer months are always slower in the adoption world due to family events and people being at home less often in summer.  Smart people are less likely to add to their family during a hectic summer schedule.  Add to the summer slump, the fact that our economy is still forcing people to relinquish their animals due to lost jobs, lost housing, and forced relocation.  These are the same people who, when their lives turn around in the future, will appreciate that you helped them to place their pets in a quality home when they were forced to leave them. 

Rescue is not profitable, we all know that.  But you can get rich in different ways through rescue via self esteem, self worth, and making a difference in a world where 4 million animals are euthanized a year. 

The biggest problem is the fact that you are going back to actively supporting commercial breeders and puppy mills who force the parents of your cute pet store puppies to live their entire lives in cages with little to no human affection or exercise.  You obviously know about the need for rescue because you were willing to try it.  How can you turn around and decide that it is ok to support these commercial breeders?  If you truly believe that your breeders are different, then post their names publicly and proudly. 

Read "The One You Left Behind".    Each person that purchases a puppy, should consider that puppy's parents.  The dog that gave birth to and raised that puppy is still residing in a cage getting bred again and again.  Her worth is decided by her production ability and when that is gone her fate lies in the hands of a "business decision" such as the one you have made.  She is only a piece of inventory to them, a small portion of their breeding stock.  Will she be auctioned off for a few dollars at a puppy mill auction?  Will she be shot?  Will she be humanely euthanized...that too is an added business expense?  Will she be one of the few that are lucky enough to be relinquished into rescue, and possibly end up in your store for adoption? 

Oh wait, you don't do that any more. 

To my readers:
Please share your opinion with the store owner by mail, phone, facebook:
Petland Wheaton
80 Danada Sq West
Wheaton, IL, 60189
Visit Petland Wheaton on facebook to voice your opinion but be aware, they will delete posts they do not like.  and you must become a fan to voice your opinion.
They liked what we said when they decided to rescue, so let us not be quiet now!  Please remember to be respectful in expressing yourself .

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't think Petland Wheaton was all that sincere about this effort from the beginning. While having adoptable pets at the Wheaton store, they continued to sell puppy mill puppies at their other store in Naperville... all the while maintaining that they never obtained puppies from puppy mills in the first place.
I especially resent the comment in Petland Wheaton's letter about seeing serious health issues in the rescued dogs that they did not see in their "purebred" puppies. This is obviously a not so subtle dig at shelter dogs.
I also saw on Petland Wheaton's facebook page in early July that they were having a fundraiser in the store for ALOHA rescue. It appears they donated the money raised (over $800) to the local police department. Looks like a PR move on Petland's part to try and gain some credibility in the community. You can read about the donation here:,6_1_NA15_PAGE2COL_S1-100715.article
On a more positive note, I recently saw that another Petland store, this one in Cambridge Ohio, has stopped selling puppies and sends people to the local to shelter to adopt. They also host a dog rescue group in the store on weekends. This sounds like a much better way to go than trying to turn a profit from the sale of rescued dogs, as Petland Wheaton did.
Thanks for staying on top of this story!