Of Profits, Principles, and Dead Fish

The American Pet Products Association projects that Americans will spend $52.8 billion on pets and their needs in 2012. Of that, $2.15 billion will be spent on live animal purchases.

Most of us in the animal welfare community focus the majority of our attention on dogs and cats, our most familiar animal companions. We emphasize adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. But we often overlook the plight of rabbits, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, sugar gliders, birds, fish and reptiles acquired on a whim or as the trend of the day. Did you know the next most common abandoned animals behind dogs and cats are rabbits and ferrets? Where do people purchase these animals? What happens to them when the novelty wears off?

Underfunded and under-recognized exotic rescue organizations are often the only hope for these small creatures. When the fashion changes or the “pet” is no longer amusing, such animals are often relinquished to the municipal animal facility or worse, simply abandoned to fend for themselves in the wild, where their chances are even slimmer. Exotic animal rescues do their best to care for, foster, and adopt out these at-risk animals.

The question is not “Can they reason?” nor “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”
— Jeremy Bentham

Where do they all come from?

Billions in revenue are generated by retailers who acquire these animals from breeding facilities that house them in unsanitary and over-crowded conditions – little different than the conditions dogs experience in puppy mills. Retailers then house and showcase these animals in a captive and over-crowded environment. Those who become ill, suffer and die will vanish quickly from the floor… hopefully before the public discovers their condition. Notice in the fish section of a pet store, there’s always a kid quick to point and say, “Look at the dead fish!”

Most of the local retail pet stores do provide adoption venues for local dog and cat rescue organizations, yet many of them still contribute to animal suffering by selling rabbits, ferrets, gerbils, turtles, birds, and the entire list above.

True industry leadership in action

There is one notable exception: Pet Supplies Plus INDY. PSPINDY does not profit from the sale of any animal, fish or reptile. Furthermore, PSPINDY franchise owner Nick Milano is a strong supporter of local animal welfare organizations large and small, offering adoption venues at his stores, no-cost dog washing for foster dogs, gift card donations, and fundraising assistance. Active support for animal welfare plus the refusal to profit from the sale (and suffering) of small animals adds up to a big “plus” for these Pet Supplies Plus locations:

2238 East 62nd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 475-9603

8810 South Emerson Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46237
(317) 889-6311

521 Noble Creek Drive
Noblesville, IN 46060
(317) 770-1707

9871 U.S. 36
Avon, IN 46123
(317) 209-1030

Please consider rewarding this responsible leadership by shopping for your pet’s needs at one of these four PSPINDY locations!

Bringing exotics out of the shadows

Small, independent rescue groups that work with dogs and cats get little enough attention from the public, but exotic animal rescues are all but invisible to those seeking an animal welfare charity to support. Yet these exotic rescue ministries are just as important as those for cats and dogs. Relinquished exotic animals depend on these organizations, and they too deserve our support.

Consider a holiday donation to one of these groups, or a gift at any of the other holidays during the year. Purchase a gift card from PSPINDY and send it to one of them to assist with the needs of the animals in their care. When someone asks what you want for Christmas or your birthday, think about asking that a donation be made in your name to one these organizations:

Indiana House Rabbit Society
PO Box 421746
Indianapolis, IN 46242-1746
(317) 767-7636 (voicemail only)
Specializing in: domestic rabbits

Ferret Rescue and Halfway House
7150 State Rd. 44
Martinsville, IN 46151
(765) 349-0265
Specializing in: ferrets

Exotic Animal Rescue and Pet Sanctuary (EARPS)
adoptions: adoption@earps.org
PO Box 736
Brownsburg, IN 45122
Specializing in: rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, exotic birds, and reptiles

IndyCLAW Rescue
Contact: adopt@indyclaw.org
Southside Indianapolis
Specializing in: Dogs, cats, rabbits, exotic birds, and other small mammals

A Critter’s Chance
Fishers IN 46038
Specializing in: rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, exotic birds, reptiles, and wildlife

Indiana Turtle Care
email: INTurtlecare@att.net
Specializing in: turtles

When you’re writing that check for the animal welfare organization nearest to your heart, please also consider the organizations that are forgotten, who care for the forgotten species: the exotic rescue organizations.

And when you’re out shopping for that special animal in your life, consider going that extra mile to the pet supply store that goes the extra mile for the animals: Pet Supplies Plus INDY.

“Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it.”
— Francis of Assisi

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