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Adoption help topics

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Read our position on the sale of pets from pet stores (PDF).

What are the concerns with buying from a pet store?

  • You don’t know where the animals came from. What if they were living in filth and their mothers were abused or neglected? They might have costly genetic (PDF), health and behaviour problems their entire lives. Learn more about good and bad breeders.
  • Many stores carry animals that they have no expertise or knowledge to care for. These animals are not given the Five Freedoms. Many just want a safe place to hide and rest and enough space and things to do. Often, cramped housing conditions don’t meet even their most basic needs.
  • When animals are transported to the pet store, they are often in cramped containers. Many animals, especially small animals like fish and gerbils, will die during transport.
  • If you buy from a pet store, you are creating a space for another animal to be brought in, continuing a cycle of pain and suffering.

Puppy dog looking sad behind a gate cage

What happens to pet store animals who aren’t sold?

Just like with inventory in retail, animals go on sale. If the animal is marked down and no one purchases her, the store may give the animal away or try to return her to the breeder. After a very low cost sale of an animal that has high care costs, the store will think twice and will not purchase another, be it a puppy, turtle or gecko.

Cute rat in cage with hands over bars looking over opening of cage

Are you worried about the well-being of an animal you saw in a pet store?

If you believe an animal you have seen may be in distress, call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722.

No, buying an animal you have never seen in person can be dangerous (PDF). In pictures and descriptions, the animal might appear to be cute, happy and healthy. However, once you’ve exchanged money and the animal is shipped to you, you might be in trouble – search for animals to adopt from your local BC SPCA shelter instead.

Curious cute black puppy dog lying on carpet indoors next to a basket

Issues related to buying an animal you’ve never met

  • The animal might not be socialized to people or could have behaviour problems. This means they could bite or scratch and might never enjoy your company!
  • An animal that looks healthy can be deceiving. They could have worms, parasites or even genetic diseases (PDF) with high costs and long-term heartache.
  • What if the animal isn’t a good fit with you and your family? Are you prepared to put them through the process of being returned? What would you do instead?

Sad puppy in cage

If you’re buying from a rescue, make sure you meet the animal in person – even if you have to drive for many hours to do so. Ask the rescue some key questions to make sure this animal is a good fit for you and your family.

If you’re buying from a breeder, visit the breeder’s home and facility. Do not trust pictures or scans of documents, these can easily be falsely created.

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happy golden retriever lying on a cushion couch indoors getting pets from a man