Increased Pet Ownership Shines Light on the Negatives of Pet Stores

Alexa Amick, Photographer

When first thinking about “animals,” many people imagine their pets, such as their cat or dog. An image is visualized that shows their furry friend’s little faces within their most domestic moments: playing catch as their dog bounds back towards them with a stick in their mouth, questioning their cat as they start chattering while looking at a bird outside their grasp, observing their rabbit as it stomps its feet to attempt put the spotlight back on themself, etc.

Following the substantial rise of COVID-19 in 2020, there has been a steady increase in the number of households that own a pet, as shown by the American Pet Products Association where, from 2019 to 2021 alone, pet expenditures have increased by 26.5 billion dollars. However, following the growth of more people getting more pets, there has also been a surge in the spread of information regarding pets (i.e. what is right and what is wrong).

This leaves a question: What does that mean? Mostly, though it’s obvious, it means that people have begun to correct behaviors and actions that may have been ultimately hurting their pets, such as the brand of food they may have been giving them. For some, however, it means looking at the establishments surrounding them and thinking if what they do and support is something they themselves would undertake or aid. 

In particular, many people turned their attention to the pet stores around them. Notoriously, pet stores have been known to treat the animals they keep in unsanitary conditions that will sooner or later harm them, and they’ve been known to spread information to potential buyers about how to care for a pet that is just simply not right in terms of what a pet actually needs. Take for example beta fish: Many pet stores preach the basic, “Beta fish only need about a 2.5-gallon or a 3-gallon tank,” but they fail to tell customers this will only provide their fish with the basic care, it will not create an environment where that fish can particularly thrive. 

And for many people, they’ve grown accustomed to brushing off how animals are treated in pet stores, but with the rise of more pet ownership, they’ve opened their eyes to legitimately use their voice to try to advocate for change as they themselves look into adopting another smaller friend. But even in spite of that, change has yet to happen because, unfortunately so, simply using your voice is not going to deter the efforts of a nationwide, multi-billionaire company. 

One of the only ways to accomplish change is by affecting the company directly, namely by impacting their sales. Companies will refuse to pay attention unless it’s something that will directly impact them. Simply telling them, “Hey, you shouldn’t do that,” will not affect them. However, if you willing choose to stop shopping at that store, and you’re able to get many other people as well to stop shopping at that store to the point where their sales are affected, it will be a different story entirely. Although, it is important to note that being able to do that also requires making products more accessible to people, which goes beyond just the pet stores that sell the product. It means holding the companies that produce the products accountable for pricing because many overprice their product, making them inaccessible to many people. 

There are numerous ways to attempt to get this change, but in time it always goes back to the common denominator of people coming together on the same basis. Without that base, it is next to impossible to get the change because one single person cannot do more than a group of people in this scenario. If people can come together, change can also come together to help for the better, but it relies heavily upon the people who enact that change.

When coming together to confront a company on a large scale, it forces companies into taking accountability for their actions and implementing solutions that amend those said actions. Although, this cannot happen in one day alone. Being able to get change takes time, so it’s important to be patient and cautious as many big companies will use any opportunity to utilize  tactics to break groups of people down. However, if a group can push forward against the odds, they may just find change comes quicker than they would expect it to.