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Minnesota: Consumer demand
KEY MESSAGE: The demand for dogs and cats continues to grow. Pet stores and now the Internet make it easy to buy.
According to the 2009/2010 National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 71.4 million homes (per the American Pet Products Manufacturer’s Association, APPMA). Contrast this to the U.S. Census which states that about 33% of Americans have kids (under 18 years of age) living at home. In other words, more homes have pets than kids.
Consider also that, of these pet-owning households, two-thirds have more than one pet; and over 20% have at least five pets or more. (American Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA).
It’s estimated there are 75 million dogs in the United States and 88 million cats in the United States (per APPMA). In Minnesota, it’s estimated we have about 1,330,000 dogs and 1,500,000 cats as pets.
Americans love their pets. When the public buys, however, they’re often not aware of how and where these animals are being ‘produced’.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that about 2,690,000 dogs sold each year in the United States come from puppy mills.
It’s also estimated that between 300,000-500,000 puppies are sold through pet stores each year. (Per the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, there are approximately 3,500-3,700 total U.S. pet stores that sell cats and dogs.)
Once the breeder has sold his or her puppies or kittens to brokers, many of these animals are shipped to pet stores for re-sale to consumers. Federal law is almost non-existent in its protection of animals once they get to the retail pet stores; in fact, the Animal Welfare Act specifically exempts retail pet stores. Various states have laws governing the treatment and sale of animals at pet shops. (See link below.)
In 2004, it was estimated that about 200,000 dogs and cats were bought online. Today, some estimate the numbers could be 5, 10, 20 times that amount. As dog/cat sales via the Internet is not regulated, there is no way to document total transactions.
Beware of websites. Never buy without seeing the breeder and conditions.
Breeder websites are created showing beautiful settings with rolling pastures and smiling dogs when, in reality, the conditions are often horrific and owners won’t allow consumers on the premise. It’s also been discovered that tens of thousands of puppies sold through websites are being imported from Russia, Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe.
This is becoming such a problem, that, in 2007, the U.S. senate passed legislation required imported puppies to be at least six months old and properly vaccinated. (Cases of rabies have been reported from puppies not vaccinated, yet sent to the United States.)
Many animals sold online or through pet stores are sick when sold, and consumers are unaware of this fact until the purchase is made and they’re at home bonding with their new family member.
To decrease inhumane breeding and put puppy and kitten mills out of business, the public is asked to never buy a dog or cat without first insisting on seeing where an animal lives. Adopt from a shelter, where one in four dogs are purebred, or contact a local rescue group or, if you buy from a breeder, meet the owner and parents of the puppy or kitten and inspect the facilities before you buy