Thursday, June 25, 2015

JEFF EDELSTEIN: Lawrence pet store stops selling puppies, starts adopting out rescues

Even the more subdued dog people out there, of which I am one, advocate for adopting a dog instead of buying one, especially one that comes from a puppy mill.
Only problem? It’s often difficult to adopt a dog from a rescue organization.
My wife and I tried to adopt a dog when we were looking for one a dozen or so years ago. We had no previous pets, so we had no vet references. We lived in an apartment, so the dog didn’t have grassy fields to frolic in. We both worked, so the dog would be alone for a good chunk of the day. We both had previous convictions for ritual animal sacrifice, and so … OK fine, the last one is a lie, but we were treated as if it were true.
The dog we were eventually allowed to adopt, the dear departed Sparky, was only given to us because he was on death row. A biter, he was. Even the rescue had had enough. To be clear: This same rescue, which previously wouldn’t let us adopt a dog because we didn’t have a backyard and it might make the dog sad, let us adopt a dog that literally might have murdered us as we slept.But despite my personal experience, I agree 100 percent with the idea of adopting. It’s one thing to buy a purebred dog from a reputable breeder, but a whole ‘nuther thing to buy a puppy from a commercial mill, where the care of the animals is substandard at best, inhumane at worst.
So what’s a prospective, non-ritual animal sacrificing new puppy owner to do?
Well, how about this: Adopt a puppy from a pet store. Adopt a rescued pup for $495, completely healthy, spayed, neutered, what have you. And you can also know this for-profit pet store is not making a dime on the sale, instead rolling all the money into rescuing more pups. 
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s exactly what Pets Plus is Lawrence is doing, along with the nine other Pets Plus stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“We’re on the leading edge of this,” said Dawn Bateman, the adoption coordinator for Pets Plus. “We’re one of the biggest chains doing this.”
Used to be you could walk into Pets Plus, pick out a commercially bred puppy, lay down some cash and walk out with the dog. Today, Pets Plus is running a background check on you, much like a rescue organization would. The only difference is a big one: They’re not going to deny you if you don’t have a backyard. “Easier” is the wrong word here, but “less rigid” might fit.
“We work with a bunch of different rescue groups, but our main source is the Humane Society of the United States,” Bateman told me. “And the fee we charge goes to rescuing more dogs, caring for them, all the medical needs. All costs go right back into the dogs and for us to get more dogs.”
Bateman said the vast majority of the puppies come from down south, where Bateman says things are different. 
“They don’t believe in spay and neuter,” Bateman said. “It’s a different way of life. Some people think it’s easier to throw your dog out the back door than to take care of it.”
Since Pets Plus started their program last April in their Jenkintown, Pennsylvania store, over 1,300 dogs have been rescued and placed.
“It’s a huge difference from the way it used to be, and it’s heartwarming to all of us to be able to do this,” Bateman said.
The Lawrence location (on the Brunswick Circle) just recently began the program, and soon will be undergoing a kennel remodel, replacing the small cages with bigger dog runs, big enough for a few puppies to play together or for two adult dogs to pass the time until they get adopted.
“We’re not doing this for profit at all,” Bateman said. “Business is obviously not doing better economically for it. But we’ve been to the south and we’ve seen the conditions. We’ve seen dogs living in holes, on the side of the road, or euthanized for no reason whatsoever.”
So Pets Plus, a decidedly for-profit operation, decided to do something about it. Rescue and sell puppies and take all the money to rescue more puppies.
The phrase “win-win” is certainly overused, but come on: It doesn’t get much more win-win than this.
Jeff Edelstein is a columnist for The Trentonian. He can be reached at, and @jeffedelstein on Twitter.

No comments: