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Old 25th April 2012   #4
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Default Re: Pet Supplies Plus

I started seriously buying from just one specialty reptile store only thirty minutes away. The only animals I was disappointed in was their axolotls, but they took my advice and immediately switched the the proper way of things, unlike the other local store I was at. They got their axolotls from a local breeder here that told them to throw in some feeder goldfish and that would be fine! I can't believe it. Anyway, I had to yell at the other store multiple times, and finally speak to their manager and show them that their axolotl was about to die from swallowing a large stone in their tank before they removed the stone. Yet they won't listen to me about feeding crickets. Anyway, I am no longer a patron of their store.

Aside from the local ones, the petsmarts are doable for their capitalist short-term animal keeping policies. Meaning, they keep them in too small of tanks on cheaper materials and food (which are never good enough, even though just using paper towels would be better and cheaper!), for the idea that they will be sold quickly. I bought a poor snake there that was getting way too crowded because it had been there for 3 years. Yeah. Three years in an 8 inch square tank for a 3 foot fat cornsnake. Ridiculous. But I guess they use these awful substrates to sell up things like the "desert" and "rainforest" decorative appeal of terrariums. Like parents would be ok with the kids having them in the house because they're attractive to the eye, or some such. Paper towels doesn't sell well... Though newspaper works well enough for puppies.

Recently I went by a petco to get some fresh aspen and saw that they had so many open display cases, yet still insisted on cohabiting snakes! One of their leopard geckos had an eye infection, and there was sand in the tank. The geckos, anoles, and blue tongue skink all had dead (I mean, completely dead and black) mealworms in their food dishes, like some idiot thought "What a waste to throw these dead rotting carcasses away. They'll eat them." or "They haven't eaten. Let's leave them for a week until they eat these same dead worms." The skink was being fed only a diet of mealworms and had completely undigested mealworm-feces in the tank - skinks should be fed softer foods and greens! There were no greens! One pacman frog had a skin infection, there were three ball pythons to a tank and they all had bad shed spots from too low humidity. All the animal's humidity levels were the same, from desert to rainforest animal. And there was a water dragon with coco fiber that was getting into its eyes.

I told the manager every single one of these things, and made him look at the problems. He said "I'll take that into consideration and ask our reptile specialist and vet about it." Clearly if these people had any idea about any animals, they wouldn't be in this bad of condition. I didn't say it, though. I think they hire these managers to be completely stoic and unable to understand anything. Like drones. Probably makes sense, since it's the company that decides care policies. I just tried in vain to maybe spur at least a diet change.

Anyway, I ended up asking to see the skink. It had the starts of MBD, uneven scales, too skinny, etc. I made a horrible decision, and I took him home. Either I took the animal home, or he was going to die in a few months, either from the store, or from the next idiot who saw a cool thing to buy and followed their caresheet without any double-checking.

It's a nice thing to say that the industry will go away if we boycott it, but for every person who knows a thing or two about animals, just enough, there's at least ten idiots out there that don't bother to check a thing. It's a capitalist market, the trade isn't going to change at all. Awareness won't work - it's like all the media advocacy to adopt dogs from shelters first before buying, but the first time someone sees a cute puppy in a store they want it. It's not going to happen. The only thing that can change it is regulation, but even that won't work, since the highest payed lobbyists will be those working for the companies. We may ask for things like USDA guidelines, but those are what allows the inhumane treatment of a lot of lab animals (think beauty supply corporations testing on animals - those conditions are usually worse than, say, a laboratory devoted to the study of rat behavior). The government isn't in the favor of animals, consumers just want what's attractive and easy, as well as to be told what to do, and we all just have to sit and suffer, and watch the animals sit and suffer.

So what do I do? I'm the idiot who buys an animal and gives at least one a good home. The trade isn't going to stop anytime soon - and I don't think I could look at the next ill-treated animal and not take it from their hands. How many pet store rescues do I have? At least 10 animals. But I feel better about what I'm doing after studying economics, environmental science, and animal law. I'm just one supporter among the many who don't even know what they're supporting. Does it make a difference? No, not at all. But at least I won't be going back to that store and asking "So where did the skink go?" "Oh, he died from some bug a while ago."

I'm still an idiot for it - but no more than any other consumer.
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