As a dog owner, your January 26 Our Town article about the cute "Doggies in the Window" sent shivers down my spine. Buying puppies from a pet store is the worst place to buy a dog. It leads to impulse buying when you see those dark eyes staring at you from a cramped cage (great marketing strategy, but it didn't work for that toy fox terrier). You should never buy a puppy without some real knowledge of the breed, its behavior, and the responsibility associated with owning that breed of dog--they vary tremendously. Pets like these can often end up in shelters, abandoned and abused, or in rescue programs after they have stopped being cute and are labeled wild.
When the article stated that a six-week-old German shepherd puppy had just been sold, the implication is that the store is buying puppies from puppy mills (don't get me started on those issues). No reputable breeder would ever release a dog before it is 10 to 12 weeks old, and then only after they have thoroughly screened potential buyers. I know, I was thoroughly screened before I was allowed to purchase my two dogs. The potential owner needs to know what type of breeds are best suited to their lifestyles, and a reputable breeder will be able to match the dog with the owner, often turning down buyers because the fit or the circumstances are not correct for the breed. When buying a puppy from a reputable breeder, they will issue a contract which will be in effect during the life of the dog, covering issues such as spaying or neutering, lifelong return policies, and health guarantees against certain genetic diseases which affect different breeds. You will not get this from a pet store, as they generally want your food and toy business more than they are interested in the dog itself.
The underlying issue is that we have a dog and cat crisis in this country, and the only way we can begin to face this responsibility is to eliminate improper breeding and marketing. I had always thought the Reader was a publication with a social conscience, and to publish such an article seriously compromises this reputation. The real story here is in what happens before the pets show up at the store and what happens after they get home.
Richard C. Bumstead