So what can you do?
First, take the pledge! Pledge that if a store sells puppies (as opposed to allowing a rescue organization to use their store to conduct adoptions) you will not shop for ANYTHING in that store. It's not enough to say you won't buy a puppy there. Every time you spend a dollar in a store you are telling that business that you support EVERYTHING they do. Bottom line is - money speaks. The only way to let that store know that you will not support their practices is to not give them your hard earned cash. These stores will not change their ways until you hit them where it hurts - in their pocketbook. And make your voice heard. Ask to speak with a manager. Let them know that you use to be a customer, but until they end the practice of selling puppies you will not return to that establishment. And then tell your friends. Tell your your coworkers. Tell everyone you know. Write a letter to the editor. Encourage everyone that will listen to choose another store to shop at for their pet needs.
Second, buy products and support companies that are working to help end the problem of puppy mills. I am so proud to say that Astrea eats Honest Kitchen food everyday. Honest Kitchen refuses to stock their product in stores that sell puppies and have recently pulled their advertising from Pet Age magazine after an editorial in Pet Age came out in support of puppy sales in retail outlets. Companies that are devoted to ending puppy mills and supporting adoptions are going to help make this change happen faster than we can because, like I said before, money does the talking.
Finally, educate yourself and those people you know about the plight of puppy mill dogs and the availability of shelter dogs. Puppy mill dogs live in squalid conditions and often suffer from adverse health conditions and long term psychological effects as a result. So many people want a pure bred dog, or a specific breed and simply do not know that they can find that perfect animal their looking for at a shelter or through a rescue organization. There are breed specific rescue groups all across the country trying to find loving homes for their dogs. There are back yard breeders dumping pure bred animals (often times with paperwork) at shelters everyday. There is simply no need for puppy mills or retail outlets selling puppies. The number of homeless animals out there continues to rise everyday, and by purchasing a puppy from a pet store only adds to the problem.
And then when you're done, go hug your animals. Tell them you love them and that you are doing the best you can to make sure that every homeless dog, cat, bunny, horse, etc can be as lucky and loved as they are.