Remember that a pet shop is a BUSINESS. If there was money in treating animals well, then a shelter would be a goldmine. It is not. The financial reality is that pets are only considered “cute”, and salable when they are young. That is why pet shops often have underage animals. They say they are “not for sale”, but they generate foot traffic in the store, and increase sales generally.
Anyone who has worked in retail for a while knows that stock is a commodity. Fashion is a great example. In winter, everyone wants scarves, but in summer, we all want light clothing. What happens to the scarves ? First they go on sale, and if they aren’t sold, they are dumped.
So, while there is a strict code of conduct for pet shops, it is impossible to enforce under current legislation. Staff have to be caught red handed by an officer with power to prosecute. If any of us sees an infraction and reports it, the investigating officer needs to see it with his/her own eyes in order to prosecute. That is why it is so difficult to get pet shops to treat the animals well – it inhibits the profitability of the store in many cases, and doesn’t make them liable for prosecution (mostly).
No-one disputes the fact that ALL animals deserve a loving home. And while saving one animal form an evil pet shop is great for that one animal, it is a terrible thing to do to the ones that come after. They will be treated just as badly, and while individually we can’t save them all, together we can educate, and through education we CAN make a difference.
People who work at shelters do amazing, heartbreaking, important work that leaves them very emotionally drained and fragile. Please consider the feelings of the shelter workers who are the last human face a bunny sees when they get the green needle, when you think about buying from a pet shop. Healthy, loving, beautiful rabbits are put down every day because there simply are not enough loving homes.