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Finding Reputable Local Pet Stores

Years ago every town, big and small, had a pet store. It probably belonged to a neighbor and his main purpose was to sell real pets. Dogs, cats, birds, goldfish and hamsters usually. These pet stores were known for their honesty and caring for the pets for sale. Customers would come in if for no other reason than to chat with the owners, play with the puppies and maybe get some dog food.

Today, pet stores have changed dramatically. Most are owned by large national chains and provide few pets other than lizards, birds, fish and the occasional seasonal bunny. Some have partnered with various rescue organizations and local humane shelters and have regular adoption days for cats and sometimes dogs.

There are, however, some pet stores that specialize in selling puppies – although they are a far cry from what we found decades ago. These are usually what are referred to as puppy mills – retailers who breed dogs to death to make money. The puppies are sick, neglected and given minimal food and water in the hope that they will survive long enough to be sold. Most of these shops are heavily fined after a few consumer complaints and eventually go out of business.

Modern pet stores tend to be large and even pet friendly! Bring Fido on a leash and he can hang out with others who have come with their owners for their weekly groceries and maybe a new dog bone or chew stick.

Some chains have partnered with veterinary hospitals so it really is a one stop shop. Bring your dog or cat (or iguana!) and while you get some food and maybe some new toys, you can also go to the vet for annual checkups, rabies shots, or other issues that tend to come up.

These stores are managed and staffed by animal experts. One chain requires all staff members to have at least a certificate in animal science. This type of knowledge is great when the time comes to need help with a new food or even to answer some basic questions about housebreaking, what kind of leash to buy, how to trim nails or even how to block a cat to spray . Their knowledge and information is helpful for new and experienced pet owners who would otherwise have no choice but to schedule a vet visit just to get some simple answers.

Most stores have learned to carry pet foods that are considered “supermarket brands” along with more specialty brands. In a bad economy, pet owners have to find a way to cut back as well, and that usually means buying cheaper pet food. When this started to happen, pet stores felt the pressure to provide additional, lower-cost items for their customers.

Make sure you sign up for a customer loyalty card wherever you shop! You will have access to great coupons and private sales.

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