Blog the Change – Dear Pets Unlimited

Dear Pets Unlimited,

I want to shop in your store. I do. You have great selection, you are a regional chain, and you are located in a very convenient place for my car-less self. What’s more, you are cheap. Your prices are a great motivator for a pet-lover on a budget. That’s why it really pains me to have to write this letter. I want to shop there, but I can’t for one reason that makes all the others utterly insignificant:

You sell dogs and cats.

Not just dogs and cats but puppies and kittens.

This is something I can no longer abide. I will pay higher prices and give my money to a giant block store rather than support your business one more time. Yes, you have the cute little PJ’s Pets cash back card that I have long since thrown away. Yes, I have read all about your puppy standards. I know you have made a PuppiesFIRST promise. You have written a pdf document outlining your criteria for breeders. You posted videos, interviews, and you say you “strive to conduct your activities in a responsible manner” according to the recommendations of PIJAC Canada. I am fully aware of all of this. But I still won’t shop in your stores.

Frankly, I don’t care if you get your puppies and kittens from the very best, kindest, smartest, most responsible breeders in the world. (Though I am pretty skeptical of your claims. If your breeders were so awesome, why don’t they publish their names? A responsible breeder is proud of her dogs and wants to show them off.) That’s not going to help your cause. Your cause, in my opinion, is inherently flawed. And here is why:

I won’t shop in any store, no matter how big or small, that sells dogs and cats. I am also leery on shopping anywhere that sells guinea pigs or rabbits or geckos. Your stores sell these animals, and many others. Before these animals find homes, they are kept in small cages, taken care of by inexperienced staff, and left alone for long periods of time. The kittens are kept all together in a small cage in the middle of the puppy section. They are constantly being poked by customers and their children. I have never once seen any of them move from their hiding places. Probably because they are all terrified. And the dogs? The dogs are another story.

The one store I have been to has a lot of dogs for sale. From what I recall, there are at least eight cages, many have multiple puppies inside. Over a year ago I remember seeing an adorable boxer puppy. He was so cute and playful, I wanted to take him home right away. Though being priced at $1,200.00 I don’t know many people who could afford him. A month or so passed and I was unfortunate enough to find myself in your store again. The boxer puppy was still there. He was larger now, much less playful. He gazed glassily out at the people. He knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

According to your staff and your website, every puppy you sell finds a home. That’s what you say. Every single one. But what about this boxer? What about puppies that grow older and become less cute. What about puppies that are too tired and cranky to play nice with prospective buyers? Your website is much less specific. This is what it says: 

“In the rare instance that we do not successfully find a suitable match for a puppy, we search for a home among our 600 PJ’s employees and network of breeders.  The adoptee must still meet the criteria to be a suitable pet owner, such as lifestyle, energy level etc.”

What exactly does this mean? What if you still can’t find anyone amongst your employees? Given most of them are teenagers I am sure this happens frequently. What then?

I don’t think I want to know the answer.
I won’t shop in your stores because I don’t believe puppies and kittens are commodities to put on a shelf. From now on I will be giving all my dog-loving money to Petcetera  and Global Pet Foods. Neither of these places feel it is necessary to sell animals to run a successful pet store business. In fact, both companies actually help support local rescues and shelters. As a puppy seller you can hardly say the same. Yes, these stores are out of my way. Yes, their prices are much higher. But it is worth it to me. I hope one day, it will be worth it to you.
Sincerely ashamed to be a former customer,
PS. No, it doesn’t help that you raised money for Lions Foundation Dog Guides Canada. I have worked for charities. You’re not fooling me.

Blog the Change

43 thoughts on “Blog the Change – Dear Pets Unlimited

  1. Well said! I salute you, and I think you laid out the points really well. Hopefully, the ripple effect will one day start the tide that makes it too painful for pet stores to get away with selling puppies and kittens in their stores.


  2. Very well written. Thank you. I’m also a previous shopper-at-stores-that-sell-living-animals. And I’m also reformed and will never return. They should go the Petco route and have ADOPTIONS at their store instead of selling the animals. It’ll bring in a whole different slew of people, like you and me, who love to spend inordinate amounts of money on our furries.


  3. One of the biggest reasons condemn the sale of puppies in pet shops is because of the conditions the puppies are kept in. Puppies are frequently in a pet shop during the cute period (5-12 weeks), and this is exactly the time that they need to be seeing everything! In a pet shop environment, they see … not much. They have one terrain, limited toys, limited views, limited sounds, limited smells. Absolutely stifling to puppy development.

    In this critical period, there is also no restrictions on bad experiences… Children knocking on the glass and such experiences can be terrifying, and life long.

    Because of the standards that are needed to meet legislation, there is no way a pet shop could provide a great developmental experience. They’re just not a suitable place for the raising of a sound puppy.


  4. The Mega Mall in brampton is undergoing renos & guess who moved in? PJ’s Pets! On Boxing Day, I gave the new store a boo and was blown away at the number of dogs AND cats that they had up for sale, a low ball estimate was about 60 puppies and probably 20 cats. Forget all the issues that I have with the conditions the animals live in. Why would someone in their right mind buy a dog from a pet shop? You don’t get to meet the parents, meet the breeder, see the conditions the puppies were raised in or get any health history.

    Don’t even get me started on the cats. They were charging over $1000 of some kind of rare breed that I can’t recall right now. Jesus Christ! $1000 ?!?! All my previous cats were freebie foundlings that probably escaped from a local barn.

    All I can say is that there’s no cure for stupid. Responsible pet owners like us are far and few between.


    • Yeah, the kitten cage truly sickens me. My husband is a huge cat lover and he can’t help but stop by it. The look on his face is so sad. The poor little guys are in their, totally open to the general public, and with price tags like that, I know they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. It is a tragedy.

      Our cat was a failed foster. In fact, I am thinking about being nuts and adopting another just because the amount in shelters makes me ill.


      • When I watch all the little kids poking their fingers thru the kitty cages I just want to slap them! Poor little creatures don’t get a break until the store closes.


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  6. Well done!! The first post I’ve read today and I doubt if I’ll come across another that is better.

    Brilliantly argued case… and like Vicky I’m in COMPLETE agreement.

    We dog and pets NEED you on our side. keep up the GREY-t work

    Love and licks Winnie xx


  7. Exactly, let them tell what happened to that boxer. Lets talk individuals, and not the latest public realtions cover up.

    In most countries in Europe it is forbidden to sell pets from pet stores. That will also happen in Canada. It must.

    btw wonderful written


  8. Kristine, what a fantastic post.

    I hate, hate HATE pet shops. There is simply no good reason for anyone to buy a pet from a shop, that has to live in a glass cage for god knows how long, being stared at, patted and poked all day Just reading your post got me angry.

    That little boxer puppy 😦 How I hope he’s found a home by now, or perhaps through your post, find one soon if, god forbid, he’s still in the shop. Excellent points about the breeders who don’t make themselves known, and the teenage shop assistants.

    *sigh* 😦


  9. Excellent post! I think your letter was well-stated and clear. I hope many other people use your letter as an inspiration to do the same thing.

    I recently found out that the big box pet store in my community sells puppies and kittens in other towns although they don’t in my city. I’ve stopped shopping there but I need to let them know why. Thanks for providing the inspiration.


  10. I think this was such an amazing post… It breaks my heart to see the cats and dogs in these stores. Like you said, they are never treated properly. So many of them are so sick. It is so sad. I used to go into these stores and play with the puppies, thinking that I could at least give them some love. What I didn’t realize that if they were sick, I could transmit their germs to my dog at home, which I did. I gave my dog kennal cough. Our vet told us that this is a very common occurrence…..


  11. AWESOME POST! If only more people would STEP UP and use their money to make their point. Consumers have quite a bit of power in some respects and this type of situation is one of them! Well done and thanks for making a commitment to buy elsewhere!!


  12. Great post for BtC – extremely well-written and I agree with you 100%. I’ll also add my voice to everyone whose heart goes out to that poor boxer. I’ve seen dogs with that similar glassy-eyed look in pet stores, and it breaks my heart. When I was a child, we got one of our puppies from a pet store (didn’t know any better at the time, obviously) – although I loved her dearly, she did have health problems and it was clear she didn’t come from a reputable breeder. Those places charge insane amounts of money – to think of the profits they bring in by making so many animals miserable and sustaining the puppy mill industry just makes me sick.


  13. Wonderful post. If we could impact their sales and bottom dollar perhaps they would change their policy of selling live animal.
    Come to my Blog and read my BtC. Not nearly as eloquent but important nonetheless.


  14. Amen sister!! I am LOVING all of these social conscience blogs today among my pet blogs community. First one from about pets vs food, and now this one about responsible shopping at pet supply stores and how absurd it is that pet stores sell actual live puppies and kittens. I hope you are sending this letter to the store and sharing it with friends and relatives . . . Long live the power of the pocketbook!

    By the way, I replied to the pets vs foods post on Something Wagging, in case you’re interested 🙂

    follow our foster:


  15. Years ago, a friend bought 3 kittens from a store that sold pets and insisted on giving us one. Fortunately, the 2 she kept turned out fine. The one we had – fine with other cats, but she’d scream holy terror if a human went anywhere in the vicinity of where she was. I could not groom her, clip her claws, check her physically. To this day, I’ve never seen a cat behave that way.
    You couldn’t have said this any better!!


  16. I don’t think I have ever read a better, thought out, well spoken letter. I’d like to drop it off at my P.J.’s pets. I also learned something – I had not read their clause well enough to see about their 600 employees or breeders taking back unsold puppies. Great you mean they go back to have to live there and possibly breed? Being in Canada I only know how horribly ill some of these animals appear. I just don’t see how people can’t see that!


  17. We don’t have this shop but my mom doesn’t shop at any place that sells puppies or kittehs. She says that good breeders want to meet anybuddy who’s gonna buy their dogs and make sure that they’re gonna be good owners. Good breeders don’t sell to places like that. Plus, good breeders also do health testing and I’d bet all my Greenies that those puppies don’t have any kind of testing. It just makes me very sad.

    Wiggles & Wags,


  18. Shops that sell animals – no…shops that adopt animals from the local rescue and shelters(the Best Friends program), you bet! It’s so important that people understand the damage pets stores are doing by selling puppy and kitten mill pets. Why would anyone think it was a good idea to keep puppies and kittens in a cage all day? What about socialization–there’s so many lessons for them to learn!? Where’s Mom? They need to be properly handled and cuddled so they known and like a human’s touch – how does that happen in a pet shop cage? Thanks for this post!


  19. AMEN!!!!!

    As the owner of one of those dogs that sat in a pet store window until he was almost 10 months old, I say KUDOS to you! I didn’t buy my puppy. Jasper was “rescued” by a woman who entered this filthy place of business (that has complaints on it going back 20 years) to buy dog food. When she saw the conditions Jasper and his sister were in (running around in their own feces and covered in fleas), not to mention the cats (litter boxes full of feces and covered in fleas) the fish (the aquariums were do dirty you couldn’t even see the fish) and the birds (missing most of their feathers due to stress and boredom), she made an offer to buy Jasper, his sister and a cat. The pet shop owner took the deal. She brought them to our shelter and I fostered Jasper and Jasmine until Jasmine found her new home and Jasper was adopted by me.

    I will never support a shop that sells animals. And, I totally support your decision to boycott them and other stores who sell animals. Nice letter Kristine!

    P.S. Thanks for inspiring Karen who in turn inspired me to attend my first protest against a Petland Store. They sell puppies from “responsible breeders” too. I will be going back again in February! See how much happened as a result of your letter? 🙂


  20. This just about sums it up. Did you send this to them? Did you send this to every store that sells companion animals? Maybe we can start a campaign and send a similar letter to all the stores. Then we could send it to legislators, too. The Coloradoan recently had an article about the effort to ban animal sales at pet stores in Ft. Collins. It said something along the lines of those of us supporting the ban wanting to put hard working people out of business. I’ve heard this on FOX News, too (no, it wasn’t on at my house). How can anyone seriously say that? Did they say that during the end of slave trading, too? “Can’t stop slave trading. It will put hard working small business owners out of business.” Uh… See the similarities? Businesses SHOULD NOT profit off other’s suffering. Human. Dog. Cat. Cattle. Period.


  21. This is great! You may also be interested in Pit Bulls: Villains or Victims. The whole book is great ammunition against BSL, and it makes a case for the danger in targeting the dogs when it is really the people who would abuse these dogs that are dangerous to our communities, especially to our children. The book started out as a master’s thesis for a forensic science program, so it is well-researched and documented. I have to admit I edited it, but I really did learn a lot about the issues surrounding pit bulls and how detrimental to our society these laws are.


  22. i am glad someone is writing about this …. as i have proof to all the claims … i purchased a pom puppy from pets unlimited april 15th of this year and had him to the vet today for his boosters , to find out through the vet looking at his teeth , lack of testes , and lol his needle book , that he is in fact 15 weeks old , and not the 6 month old that he was supposed to be .. i was told by pu that he was born Jan 3 , 2011 and that was why i purchased him , and then to find out his actual birthday isnt until march 13.. what kind of people work there , dont they realize what they r doing , i contacted the bbb today as well


    • That’s awful. I don’t know how they thought they could get away with that. However, there is some good news out of all of this as Pets Unlimited has officially announced they will no longer sell puppies or kittens in their stores. You can find the news link here:
      Pretty exciting, I think. And it’s all thanks to people like us complaining about them. It made such a huge difference.

      I am sorry to hear you were so misled about your puppy. I hope he is healthy and you will get to spend many great years with him. Thank you so much for sharing your story.


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