Who among you has visited a Pet Distributor?
Answer: Virtually no one. It pretty much takes a PETA undercover investigation to get through the doors.
Why does it matter?
To understand the complexity of problems associated with breeding, one needs to understand the pet business in general -- worth billions, by the way.
What is a Pet Distributor?
Just like you don't want to know the details of where that tidy package of yummy ground chuck at the grocery store comes from, similarly, you really don't want know where those cute and perky fluff balls at the pet store come from. When you buy a guinea pig in a pet store, it does not come directly from a happy breeder home, as you might like to imagine. Pet stores make bulk purchases through distributors.
Most of us start out planning to "buy a guinea pig" from a pet store. That's where we are conditioned to find guinea pigs (and all small pets) for sale, and we believe that the pet store employees are the experts, right? It may come as a surprise to many, but just like with cats and dogs, there is a pet overpopulation problem with small pets, too. Large numbers of rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and more are languishing in shelters around the world. It's not that there aren't enough homes to go around, but simply that the model for acquiring, "owning" and caring for pets is broken. Today, pets are still treated like a commodity by many people and most companies in the pet industry rather than as living creatures deserving of a chance at a decent and proper life.
Most of us are aware of the horrors of puppy mills and understand that buying a puppy from a pet store supports the cycle of sordid care and practices that continues behind the scenes. It's the same--only worse--for small pets. We know that the cute puppy in the store window has come from a bad world. It's not about how clean that pet store looks or how healthy the animal is or isn't. It's about what you'll never see. Hobby and show breeders contribute to that unfortunate reality--and most don't even realize it. The big picture of how the pet trade works is kept intentionally hidden from view. From kids at 4H to the bigger 'caviaries' -- seemingly innocent trading and selling of 'stock' -- isn't so innocent. Breeders cannot keep up with all of the animals they breed, so stock is "culled." Just like you'll never be invited to visit the inside of a factory farm, so too, you will never be invited to visit the inside of a pet distributor.
Distributors are the source of the vast majority of small pets in pet stores around the country and world. And they do not just supply the big chains, like Petco and Petsmart, they also supply the majority of the surviving smaller "Mom and Pop" or independent pet stores as well as many regional chains. You won't find them by googling them.
The continuing sweep of Ag-Gag laws across the country sets a very dark tone for 'enlightened' treatment of animals. As hard as we work for animal rights, corporate interests are winning out at every turn. Don't be fooled by a lack of light on the issues. The darkness and ignorance of what goes on behind closed doors is intentional. We MUST vote with our pocketbooks.
Breeders: "We're not in it for the money, we do it for the betterment of the breed."
When confronted with all the issues surrounding breeding, many breeders think that if they are not making money at it, then they aren't the big, evil breeders to which everyone is referring, so their hands are clean and since their motives are noble and pure, they are doing good.
Thankfully, money is not the only yardstick we we use in life to assess the right or wrong of our actions.
Most breeders will happily tell you that it costs them a lot of money to raise guinea pigs, not the other way around. They say they do it because they are passionate about guinea pigs. And they are.
~~~ article in progress ... more coming soon ~~~
AG GAG Restrictions on posting public information about animal enterprises
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Enterprise_Terrorism_Act#cite_note-US_v._Buddenberg-14 "The final version of the bill, S. 3880., was passed in the United States Senate on September 29, 2006, by unanimous consent, a Senate procedure that is used to expedite the passage of non-controversial bills without an actual vote. On November 13, 2006, the House passed the bill under suspension of the rules, a procedure generally used to quickly pass non-controversial bills without voting. ... "The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was overwhelmingly embraced by the pharmaceutical industry." ... "Animal welfare and civil liberties groups, however, largely opposed the passage of the legislation."
Mother Jones: Gagged by Big Ag
An overview of the Ag/Gag problem
2010 PETA investigation into Petco Suppliers
Petsmart Goes Private, New CEO (previous head of PAYLESS SHOES)
"Massey, who has more than 25 years of retail experience in the retail industry, including as CEO and president of Collective Brands Inc., the owner of Payless ShoeSource, will be based at PetSmart headquarters in Phoenix. In a phone interview, Massey said he wants to grow the company's sales, market shares and profit. "There are a lot of opportunities within the business," he said. These include enhancing customer connections with the company, both in store and online, he said. He would like to provide training to associates so they can better serve "pet parents" and increase the emotional relationship customers have with the company, he said."
The "Experts" that work at pet stores (Petco, for example)
Do some people end up working at the stores that are experts in all the pets and products that they carry? Perhaps. But reading the reality of the employee experiences and interview process is quite entertaining.
Caring for Rats and Mice
Mice and rats have it far worse than guinea pigs or rabbits in the grander scheme of things in the pet world. Adoption matters for them, too! "Shipped to distributors (by breeders) in small, cramped containers that are breeding grounds for parasites and viral and bacterial infections, mice and rats often reach the pet store ill, malnourished, and/or pregnant." (visit http://www.rmca.org/Rescue/: The Rat and Mouse Club of America is dedicated to helping abandoned and abused domestic rats and mice throughout the country)