My Visit to Three East London Pet Shops
A visit to three East London pet shops left me feeling distraught. Although it is not illegal for anyone in possession of a pet shop licence granted by their Council to sell puppies, it is not in the puppies best interest to be sold in this manner and it should be made illegal to do so. Especially when a puppy is still waiting to be sold at 26 weeks of age!! More about this later
The pet shops I visited were quite different in their presentation to the public but the techniques used by each shop to sell puppies were all the same. Be wary of your customers and give the least amount of information as possible and only answer as brief as possible any questions asked.
Firstly I stopped by London Prestige Puppies (previously called Simon's Pet and East London Puppies until they were closed by Newham Council). The pet shop is in new ownership and was well presented, clean both exterior and interior, the front of the shop displayed a good range of aquatics, pet food and accessories with rear of the shop accommodating the puppies. Their licence allows up to 50 puppies at any one time to be held on the premises. The young puppies were in wire cages well off the ground and away from public interference, they were housed on white shredded paper, recently replaced and fresh water given. But there were no toys visible for play and stimulation even for the older puppies, which was even more unsatisfactory.
One of the older puppies was 26 weeks (6 months) the others 13 to 16 weeks, were kept in an area to the rear of the premises as they were now too large to be kept in wire cages. Instead are kept in tiled cubicles, wood shavings on the floor and given a bowl of water but without anything to occupy them in play such as toys or even a bed to sleep in. What distressed me most was to think that the eldest puppy (6 months) lacked anything for stimulation such as toys to play with, just bare walls he could not even see the puppies in the next pen. Other than a person popping in to clean the pens and at feeding times it appeared human contact was limited. There was no excuse for the owners not giving the puppies toys as the shop stocked toys to sell.
Puppies of any age should never be alllowed to be sold from pet shops. There is only a very short window in a puppies life of between 6 and 14 weeks which is the early learning period, any experience both good and bad may have a lasting effect, but a bad experience may have a detrimental effect on the puppy for the rest of its life . This can also result in behaviour problems due to its social and physiological needs not being met, by being denied early socialization as the puppy would have no or limited experience of people handling, household noises, children or of the big outside world such as traffic and would not be house trained, etc.
Pet shops should be aware of the requirements of puppies if they are in the business of selling them to the public to go into pet homes. Even tough the premises were clean to the point of being clinical in respect of the puppies but it is inadequate to have good presentation if the puppies, social and physiological needs are not being met too, ensuring that the puppies are suitably prepared to be family pets.
There was no information on display to identify the name of the pedigree or cross breeds of puppies for sale, no details of the breeders or the selling price. Any one interested in purchasing a puppy would have to ask for information, which admittedly was given when asked but was no more than what was listed on their adverts on the Internet, nineteen ads for 16 different breeds of puppies. This consisted of a basic parvo vaccine, worming, health check (listening to the puppies heart) a pedigree and four weeks pet insurance.
To the purchaser (a purchaser would need to be quite naïve to not be aware of the possible pitfalls of purchasing a puppy from a pet shop). But they could be persuaded by presentation, a cute puppy sitting in a cage or pen may give the impression that they could not go wrong in paying the asking price and walking away with a puppy in their arms, assured by the seller that their puppy was a well bred, healthy puppy. But are they right to think like this? No of course not the parents of the puppy would not have been screened for known hereditary conditions in the individual pedigree breed under the Kennel Club, BVA schemes. The puppy may look well but what the purchaser will not know is how that puppy was bred or the conditions of the premises or the health status of the parents, what hereditary disease the parents were carrying and passing onto the puppy.
Puppies sold from a pet shop (or any pet shop licence holder) usually come direct from commercial breeders/puppy farmers in West Wales or Ireland or are sold to the pet shop through a dealer who has sourced the puppies from either of these locations where battery dog farming flourishes. The seller may mention a location in England for their breeder as they did to me but that is just to distract from the truth they should have said our dealer who sources puppies from elsewhere.
My next stop was Aardvark Kennels, the name gives the impression they are a kennels but in the High Street South, East Ham I think not. A shop front with photos of various puppies displayed on the windows in a very sloppy fashion, the door was locked and had to ring the bell to get someone to open up. The premises were somewhat unkempt and it was difficult to know when entering through the front door whether they were open for business or if the front of the shop was for storing and the rear was where they made the money on puppies. A room at the rear was where the puppies were in tiled pens, wood shavings on the floor and water, the puppies were lively and appeared happy, as far as the eye could tell and of course without handling. The men who were working seemed a little impatient maybe they could see through me and knew I was just browsing at the many puppies offered for sale.
One man ran through the various breeds on sale and their ages and said 'the puppies were bred in West Wales' I guess he meant all of them, then stating that 'the best breeders are in West Wales' but did not add 'commercial breeders and puppy farmers who supply pet shops like ours'' which was what I was thinking but I kept my mouth firmly closed and bit my tongue once more. I asked 'were the puppies registered'? he replied 'no they are for pet homes not for showing'. I could hear puppies yapping out the back and commented on this he said 'oh that is where they have a run for exercise' but I did not go outside and was not invited to so cannot confirm if they were having exercise or not at the time. But I have since been informed that older unsold puppies/dogs are kept out the back and advertised for sale on Gumtree.
My next target was Anipals 33 High Road, Chadwell Heath. A shop situated on a very busy main road with shops along either side of the road. This was possibly the most relaxed of the three shops I visited with the staff chatting to customers and people coming and going to view the puppies, but thankfully I did not see one purchased. The puppies were all in tiled pens at ground level with wood shavings on the floor and water given, the younger puppies were under heat lamps but all puppies had toys, at last someone cared with the knowledge to know the importance of stimulation and human contact. I thought also by allowing customers to view and speak to the puppies in close contact without handling or touching was better. The puppies were asleep on my arrival which was disconcerting but this was due to the warmth of the shop but some did wake before leaving and were active. But I did not like to see three older rottweilers left unsold at 15 weeks of age, this is not acceptable. Rottweilers are a guarding breed, it is their natural instinct to do so and to think they were freely available to anyone walking off the street who had the money to purchase regardless of their knowledge of the breed was irresponsible.
The rottweiler receives enough bad press without the breed allowed to be sold from a pet shop into inexperienced hands. Again the puppies had not been fully socialized from 6 weeks to 14 weeks of age and had lost this important period in their lives, for any puppy that would be detrimental to its welfare but for a rottweiler, who shortly, would be entering the teens, the hooligan stage in its life and without the correct handling I fear its life maybe short lived or through numerous homes or rescue due to behaviour problems. Not the dogs fault but a combination of factors such as unknown breeding, long transportation from breeder to dealer/pet shop, waiting to be sold from a pet shop too long, then sold to an owner that lacks adequate knowledge of the breed and just wants a 'hard looking dog' even though in reality rottweilers ethically bred and purchased by a responsible, knowledgeable person are quite special and good natured. But bred irresponsible and sold through the puppy trade is an accident waiting to happen if in the wrong hands.
But the message is still the same never ever buy a puppy from a pet shop or dealer and see the puppy interacting with its mother and siblings.