If you’re going to buy a pet rather than adopting one, the first thing you need to do is find a reputable pet store. Not every pet store is the same, and there are things you should look for before making a purchase.
I’ve had quite a few pets in my life, and after both shopping at and working in various pet stores, I’ve discovered that not all pet shops are created equally. It’s a wise idea to get to know something about the pet stores in your area before you buy a pet or any pet supplies.
So what should you be looking for in a pet shop? Well, it’s always a good idea to look for a place that has a good selection so you can do all of your shopping in one place. There are exceptions to this rule, especially when you’re dealing with exotic pets, but most of the time it’s a good idea to find a place that will carry everything you need.
Another thing to look for is a place that is clean. Does the store have a foul smell when you go in? Are the pet cages soiled more than you’d expect for a single day? Are the products in disarray? A clean store says a lot about the company. If a store smells or has dirty cages, it’s not a good sign. Poor upkeep can lead to diseases in the pets, as well as contamination of products that they sell. It’s not a big deal if you can smell the litter or bedding when you’re right next to a cage, but the shop should smell and look clean, and there shouldn’t be a lot of waste in the animal cages.
It’s a good idea to know something about animal care products before you go into a store as well. For instance, there was a chemical being placed in a lot of bird foods as a preservative, and it could kill a bird over time. I looked at shops to see who still sold it. I was much more willing to shop at places that had pulled the product. If a store carries products that are known to be dangerous or even potentially dangerous to pets, you might have to wonder about the company and the store’s owners.
One of the biggest things you need to look for in a pet shop is the health and housing conditions of the animals. Are there dead fish in the tanks? It happens from time to time, but a good shop will remove them so customers don’t see. Are there too many animals per cage? Overcrowding of animals is another bad sign. Do any of the animals look sick? No reputable pet shop will leave sick animals up for sale. They will have them removed and taken care of. Also look for things like multiple breeds of birds in a single cage, loose feeder insects in with other animals, or mammals and birds being kept in the same enclosure where they might expel waste on one another. These are all signs of a store that you should stay away from. (It is also wise to report stores that have overcrowding, poor housing or sick animals to your local authorities so the store can be shut down and the animals can be saved.)
It’s also good to know about animals that are illegal in your area. You should leave and immediately report any store that is selling pets that are illegal in your area. In some areas of the country special licenses are required to sell exotic animals. If this applies in your state, ask the pet store to provide proof that they can legally sell the animals. Any reputable shop should gladly offer proof to avoid bad reviews and possible legal action.
When you’re looking for a good pet shop, you can go into them on your own and get a feel for the place and the employees and make your own opinion. Talking with employees can be a good gauge of the store. If the staff is not knowledgeable and helpful, it might be wise to avoid the store. It’s also a good idea to get the opinions of others, such as friends or reviews posted on websites. Do look out for people who seem to have personal grievances rather than discernible issues such as those listed above. Only take into consideration reviews that state facts which could be confirmed.
Once you find a good store, stick with it. The more you shop in one place the easier it will become to get help and find out about products. If you find a bad store, it’s a good idea to warn others or if necessary, notify the authorities if you think that the animals are in danger or there is illegal activity in the establishment. Unlike people, pets can’t tell anyone that they’re being mistreated, improperly fed or poorly cared for. It is our responsibility to take action for them. By doing your homework and finding reputable pet stores and reporting bad ones, you are helping other pet owners and more importantly, protecting the animals.