Yes, the idea of falling in love with a dog in a pet store is so ingrained in our national ideas about pets that there was even a popular song about it.
Adopting a pet on impulse is rarely a good idea, even if you’re not drunk. However, that’s not why the industry is moving away from selling dogs in stores. Years of campaigns by animal welfare organizations have turned many pet lovers against the large commercial dog-breeding facilities required to keep stores nationwide supplied with puppies. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture does inspect these facilities, that doesn’t mean that they’re where you picture the parents of your family’s beloved Maltese living.
“The regulation of breeders is so poor that all it really does is give consumers and the general public a false sense of security that their dogs are coming from a humane environment when they’re not,” Cori Menkin of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explained to NPR.
That doesn’t mean buying puppies is out of fashion. NPR spoke to the owner of two Petland stores in Florida who has one store that sells nothing but puppies and supplies for new puppies, and another full-service pet store that still makes 85% of its revenue from puppy sales and puppy supplies. Yet some municipalities, including one of the towns where she has a store, have proposed bans on the sale of puppies. Some of these bans have passed.
Large national chains like Petsmart and Petco have moved to a model where they do not sell dogs or cats, though, instead opening up space in their stores to house animals from local rescue groups, and having rescue clinics on store grounds. These happen to drum up business for pet supplies, too: why not pick up some food for your new cat, since you’re already inside a pet store?