The problem with pet stores is not in the concept itself. Many pet stores carry quality products for pets in a setting of caring professionalism, but unfortunately such businesses are not the norm. The norm for pet stores is an establishment whose primary aim is not the betterment of pet care, but rather the growth of the financial outlook of the store itself. Compound that fundamental problem with the sale of live animals and you create an atmosphere of neglect and abuse born of greed.
A truly caring and informed customer, one who shares his life with living animals, can enter any pet store, and come away with products conducive to a quality lifestyle and enrichment for his hosted species. But, to rely on the advice of pet store owners and employees for good information regarding the care of his companion species, the normal customer will be met with, in most cases, a lack of true knowledge, or worse, misinformation.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing any animal is the introduction of the human. Once having discovered an animal, humans seem unfailingly to try to determine what possible value such an animal can bring to his life. Seldom does the human consider what possible advantage it can bring into the animal's life. So it goes: another species fits into one of the complex categories that a human invariably tries to fit things into.
But animals are not things, and do not often fit easily into a category once determined. Whether it for food, financial gain, competition, an animal's value only lasts as long as we can determine its worth. An animal generally does not see things in this same light and often tends to stray beyond the box newly fitted into. As the value decreases, so does its chance of survival in a world increasingly controlled by humans.
In theory, a pet store would exist to serve the needs of pets. Perhaps therein lies the problem: the designation of "pet". Personally, I would rather be a prisoner than a pet. A prisoner has rights, whereas a pet is subject solely to the whims and fancies of the human to which it belongs. The word "pet” signifies a possession. Perhaps the first step in advocacy for any animal species is to eliminate the category “pet” and replace it with “companion.” In recognizing that an animal cannot belong to a human the way a lamp or a car might, a possible first step towards recognizing the folly of human right to possess other living creatures can be made.
Just because we can catch an animal, breed it in captivity, treat it with less than compassion than we would presumably treat another human does not give us the right to do so. Just as there are courts issuing rights determining the guilt or innocence of an accused criminal, so should animals be treated fairly. Lacking proper restraints and safeguards protecting an animal's fundamental rights, pet stores and prospective pet keepers are free to conduct their interactions with other species as they see fit. Sure, there are animals rights laws, but in reality they have little reach and limited resources. There is more support for abused and neglected animals in the private sector through advocacy and animal rights enthusiasts than in government led protection agencies.
I feel deeply for the plight of those forced to share the planet with a species so careless and entitled as humans. We are taught from the earliest age to take what we can for ourselves from the world around us and the most successful way to do that. With this fact in mind, it is no wonder that the environment as well as the other species who must share it with us suffer at our hands. I suppose the real surprise is the few who have moved past the rhetoric of human superiority who try to help those less fortunate species under our control and educate the uninformed to better ways of sharing our lives with the companions who share our homes.
It is no easy task to instill compassion into a species so seemingly lacking as a group, in order to benefit all those kept in the unfamiliar surroundings of a human home. I pray there will come a time when the insight, information, compassion and love spread through the use of social media will no longer be necessary, but instead we will applaud the success of great strides in understanding and accolades for the dwindling number of cases involving abuse or neglect of fids throughout the world. Until then, let us continue to carry the torch that we may attempt to light even the furthest dark corners of ignorance and disregard. I love you all, and hope that each day at least one more life may be enriched and improved through our heartfelt words.