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Have ‘Mommy Wars’ Given Way to ‘Pet Wars?’

Pet store protests, online jabs, puppy mills—it’s tough out there.

Are pet owners, activists and business owners increasingly at odds over how we acquire our pets? Like the 'Mommy Wars' that have spurred headlines for years, it could all be part of a big culture clash.

The options are seemingly endless: breeders, rescues, animal shelters and the Internet. In recent years, discussions over how we obtain our animals have morphed, at times, to online controversies, pet store protests and increased regulations on the pet store industry.

“I think nurturing in general is getting a lot more divisive,” said Greg Ealick, a philosophy instructor at UMBC. “The increasing hostility we see in pet rearing is an echo of the increasing hostility in child rearing.”

That more divisive culture of nurturing has also manifested itself in the ‘Mommy Wars,’ where it’s debated whether breastfeeding is best, whether it’s ok in public, and how to tend the young in general, he said.

“At least part of what’s going on--we’re thinking about pets, but we’re thinking about pets as metaphors for children," he said.

Much of the public scrutiny in recent years has been centered around pet stores, some of which are accused of acquiring puppies from puppy mills or disreputable breeders.

In Columbia, an online debate has flared over the new business, , which sells luxury dog items, as well as puppies.

said that reputable breeders don’t sell puppies to pet stores and instead prefer to screen potential buyers to ensure puppies go to good homes.

Catonsville readers sounded off on this issue in a previous article, which you can read here.

Charm City Puppies owners have not commented, quality pet stores and breeders are the norm.

Puppy store protests don’t just occur online.

This week, police were called to a pet store protest outside a store in Orland Park, a suburb of Chicago, that sold puppies, according to the Southtown Star.

Police arrived after “words were exchanged” between a woman and a protester, the Star reported.

Kristel Masengale, a sale’s associate at Today’s Pet in Elkridge, said she has been in the pet store industry for 10 years—and it has changed dramatically with more regulations and laws regarding store operations.

“As long as the business is doing things right—the animals are well taken care of, the breeder are licensed and trusted, typically they’ll do ok,” she said.

There is no question it’s become more difficult for the pet industry, said Michael Maddox, vice president of governmental affairs and the general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which represents the pet industry.

“We think pet stores and breeders should be subject to high standards of care,” he said. “Unfortunately, you have certain elements who really are anti-pet. They don’t like the idea of people buying pets at all. They’ll picket stores, seek legislation banning the sale of pets. ..  We think it’s a very good thing for people to own pets.”

Maddox pointed to legislation two years ago in Maryland (that stalled in committee) that would have banned the sale of puppies in retail pet stores.

This year, in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate that would require pet stores to reveal the origins of the puppies they sell and reimburse customers for vet costs if the puppy they buy becomes unexpectedly ill.

Advocates for animals said pet owners have become more aware of their choices, but aren’t necessarily becoming more divisive about what is right and wrong.

Aileen Gabby, executive director of the Maryland SPCA, said pet owners today are less judgmental—but they have more pride in their choices.

“It’s not shaking your finger, ‘You should do this,’ it’s, ‘Hey, I did this. I got a shelter pet, and he’s great. You should do that, too,’” she said.

Thomas Kirby February 06, 2012 at 04:13 AM
The burden of proof is on you, Gina.
holly February 11, 2012 at 01:21 AM
sure, there are no problems with puppy mills anymore: http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/33002-4-SF.pdf
Julianne StarMonkey Stammer Brown February 14, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Recently, two members of ReLove Animals Inc. visited Charm City Puppies. The following includes the facts from that visit. On February 5 at 11:29 a.m., Tony Cossentino stated in response to The Sun's article ..."As the owner of this store, I would encourage customers who are curious to come in to the store and visit directly. We will gladly set the record straight on any questions you may have about us and our puppies. We might just change your mind about what you think of puppy stores. I will not respond further on this forum because it is too easy for certain individuals to bully us online with unfounded things that they would never say to our faces. None of the opposition has even visited the store to see for themselves, not even the leader. Please search 'Charm City Puppies' on Facebook for more information. Thanks, we love you Charm City!" We visited the store on Thursday, February 9th. The store is lovely and clean, with a nice variety of products. The puppies were cute and seemed relatively happy in their cribs. Part 1
Julianne StarMonkey Stammer Brown February 14, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Upon arrival at the store, we first spoke with Jackie Cossentino, one of the owners, who later called her husband Tony to the store for further discussion. We discussed the public's concern about the puppies coming from puppy mills and asked for their list of breeders. Tony refused to give us the information but said he would give it to anyone else. If that is information you are interested in, please visit the store. They did say that they get their puppies from a broker, The Hunte Corporation located in Goodman, Missouri. We tried to discuss a humane business model that many pet stores in the country are transitioning to, one which only adopts out puppies or dogs that are in shelters or rescues, but the owners of Charm City Puppies were not interested. We would welcome the opportunity at any time in the future to once again sit down and discuss this business model with them. We are pursuing our plans to have educational demonstrations in order to educate the public on puppy mills, what they are, and that almost all pet store puppies come from puppy mills (according to several national animal welfare organizations). We are excited to report that we have been in contact with other pet stores who are willing to sit down and learn about a humane business model. One of them is very interested in transitioning to not selling puppies and instead only offering rescues for adoption. We will keep you updated on the progress we are making. Part 2
Julianne StarMonkey Stammer Brown February 14, 2012 at 12:35 AM
For more updates on our upcoming educational demonstrations, links regarding pet stores, puppy mills, and animal welfare, and other ongoing developments please join our Facebook page 'ReLove Animals Inc.' Part 3

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