As in, the ones that sell pets not the ones that sell pet supplies. This twinkly article about a political battle in San Francisco over a proposed ban on the selling of live animals focuses more on the politics of the situation and less on the law itself, but I have to say that I think the law is a fucking great idea and it should be embraced everywhere. The argument that this would force pet stores to go out of business—which is, of course, the point of the law—evokes even less sympathy in me than what I feel for the tanning salon owners whining about the 10% tax on their aesthetically repulsive cancer-dealing. Shut up and open a business that’s less ethically awful.
Every time I walk by a pet store with puppies in the window, I want to strangle someone. Who knows what kind of hellish conditions those puppies were in before, and now they just look sad. It angers me that these animals were deliberately brought into existence for profit while other animals conceived under more normal circumstances languish without homes, often brought up in unhealthy environments that ruin their health, and are being hawked in a way that nearly guarantees they’ll be an impulsive purchase, raising the odds that someone won’t take care of them. These places shouldn’t exist, full stop. I’m not a radical about this—I don’t have strong opinions about buying from breeders directly, which would probably happen even if this law was passed—but the way that pet store pets are treated like any other item for purchase basically guarantees they’ll be handled like product, instead of like living creatures that not only have feelings, but put their love and trust in humans far beyond what we humans have earned.
This would probably mean that people couldn’t get exotic pets, and that isn’t really the sort of thing that would keep me up at night, either. I understand the urge to have something like a pet ferret, but like with smoking, it’s an understandable urge that probably is best not indulged. Cats and dogs evolved to be our pets and want nothing more than to be our pets, thus they are the best choices for pets. They may not love every second of being a pet—going to the vet comes to mind as a moment they don’t love—but on the whole, what they want is to be a pet. If you’ve ever adopted a cat that was feral but is well-socialized, you’re probably familiar with how true this is. Even though my cat Molly only spent perhaps the first two months of her life as a feral kitten, she is clearly still haunted by the memory. When we had a backyard, I would let them hang out there under supervision, and while Dusty (who was never feral) was simply happy to go out, Molly wouldn’t go out unless I left the door open for her so that she could be assured that she could run back into the condo at any second. She was that afraid of ever going back to non-pet status again. If you want a pet, cats and dogs want to be your pet. It’s the simplest relationship in the world, and I see no reason to complicate it by insisting that the humble cats and dogs are too boring to be your pet.
I realize that some animal adoption centers are real assholes that have way too high of standards for who can adopt a pet. I don’t disagree that they need to back the fuck off, and accept that someone can be a perfectly good dog owner while not having two acres of land. But even in places where the adoption centers are out of control, you can often still go to the kill shelter and get yourself a puppy or kitten who otherwise might be put down. Also, the solution to adoption centers being out of control is not to resort to abusive systems like pet stores. The solution is for adoption centers to stop sucking. Also, I have to say that while they’re a giant, soulless corporation, I always appreciated that Pet Smart allows animal adoption groups to use their space to adopt out animals, helping reduce the demand for pet stores that sell animals.