Petco, Amish Puppy Mills and Who’s to Blame for Animal Abuse?

The needless drowning of caged animals in a Petco store the Susquehanna River flooded in Binghamton, New York, brought the issue of animal abuse and pets for sale passionately into focus. Petitions are being circulated, aiming to put Petco out of business and/or undermine their stock price, but who really should be blamed for commercial practices that are legalized animal abuse?

Petco and Puppy Mills: Who’s To Blame?

Pointing fingers at Petco for the animal abuse occurring daily in puppy mills may be a little too easy. The company’s behavior before, during and after the Binghamton floods ought to shame anyone involved.

Petco abandoned a store stocked with caged animals for sale well after widely published reports circulated about the likelihood of floods. Petco executives went into denial. They were not aware of the flood threat, they said, even though the location had been flooded in the last major area flooding, and besides, it wasn’t river flooding but a sewage back up.

Sewage Back Up?

Disingenuous as their excuses were, the statement said more about the corporation’s frequently reported disregard for the animals in their stores than it did about the immediate ineptitude of its managers. 

But in fairness, Petco is far from alone in the cruel, but legal practices that take place in selling animals. Most Americans ignore the horrific conditions in which animals live entire lives in industrial agriculture, powering down unneeded calories produced there every day.

As for Petco, there’s another side too. In a local Petco on Union Square, management donates a good amount of space to animal rescue groups trying to find adoptive homes for displaced animals. It ain’t all black and white, as they say.

But there’s more.

Petco and the Notorious Puppy Mills of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Admired, if also subject to some ridicule for their archaic beliefs and lifestyle, the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish people of Lancaster County sponsor what has been called the “Puppy Mill Capital of The United States.” Consistent with their religious beliefs that animals are simply livestock, the Amish support unconscionable animal abuse in puppy mills they own and operate. 

Petco and other stores catering to an animal loving public (as long as it’s convenient) get their “livestock,” puppies, kittens and rabbits, from inhumane operations like the Amish puppy mills, and are equally guilty of the proliferation of profiteering from institutionalize animal abuse.

But Who Really Is To Blame for Puppy Mills and Animal Abuse?

Petco and the Amish puppy mills just happen to be a pair of obvious, well-documented examples of businesses that will go the limit in cruelty for profit. Religious belief systems should never be allowed to justify hurting and killing defenseless animals to score a profit. It’s the one of the craziest aspects of capitalism.

And yet, it goes on. Practices that would land yo with a stiff fine or even jail time are routinely and legally practiced in puppy mills, just as they are in industrial agriculture. Laws written to protect animals are weak and unenforced.

But the thing is, we already know this. Writers from Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson to Mark Bittman have written widely and feelingly about it, coming from different angles.

So, who really is to blame for the horror of puppy mills that supply Petco and others, even as their business practices amount to animal abuse? Have you looked in the mirror lately? Maybe, it’s you.

What the Amish do to animals is unforgivable for any reason. And the treatment of animals in pet shops like Petco can turn your stomach in anger. But the reality is that, neither thing would happen if shoppers weren’t willing to pay for the results.

And get a great bargain that is made possible only by a continuing system of animal abuse of which they’d never approve, an act buyers avoid by not looking.

Let Petco and the Puppy Mills Off the Hook. It’s You and Me.

A business is started to make money. Money is made by selling products and services, within the laws, that consumers want.

Do you want puppy mills to continue abusing helpless animals without penalty in Pennsylvania? Do you want Petco to carelessly leave animals to drawn in a flood, then refuse responsibility?

You know what to do. Elect officials who will write stronger laws and see that they are enforced, and most of all, stop buying “livestock” regarded as nothing more than an expendable commodity by irresponsible vendors.


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