Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Buyer beware: Owner asks pet store to pay puppy’s dental bills

May 5, 2014 CTV News

A Delta woman says she regrets her decision to purchase a dog at a local pet store after the puppy turned out to have major dental problems.

Days after Ashley Syr purchased a young Chihuahua for $1,200 at Puppies, Fish & Critters, she realized something was wrong. The little dog, Chanel, was lethargic and wouldn’t eat or drink. Syr decided to take the puppy to a vet. "He told me that she had a severe congenital defect and it was a severe under bite, one of the worst he'd ever seen," said Syr.

Chanel had to have her bottom canine teeth removed. The $300 cost was covered by the pet store, after Syr complained to the owner.

Store owner Tom Bettauer claims it was a minor problem and stands behind the dogs he sells. "Any of our breeders that I have, have all been checked out at some point by the SPCA. It's automatic. The SPCA knows all these different people," he said.

But the BC SPCA says breeders are usually only inspected if they’ve received a complaint and insists that reputable breeders don't sell to pet stores. The animal welfare agency urges consumers not to buy dogs from pet stores. "It can be an impulse purchase. I think there's something wrong with the fact that you can go and buy a pair of jeans, some milk and then, 'oh, look at that cute little puppy in the window,'" said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer.

The SPCA prefers consumers adopt a shelter dog. But if you to get a purebred dog, reputable breeders like to match their dogs to the right owner and form long-term relationships with that person for the life of their pet. 

Even Tom Bettauer admits trust is key when purchasing an animal. "That's the number one thing, is to trust where you go. Whether it's myself or whether it's a breeder, but make sure it's a breeder because the internet is one of the worst places to go," he said. On that point, the SPCA agrees. "I've seen ads on Kijiji and we've seized from where those animals actually live and, in fact, they live in a dark garage, in bird cages," said Moriarty. The SPCA also warns that pet store dogs may have a harder time with house training and he age the puppies are taken away from their mothers may also play a role in socialization. 

Little Chanel is still feeling the effects of her dental surgery, but is expected to recover. Her owner Ashley now wishes she'd never gone the pet store route and says she'd never do it again.

Comment: We were first made aware of this story in March. Store owner, Tom Bettauer, apparently told Ms Syr that she was “over-reacting” when she voiced her concerns about her newly purchased puppy. However, the Delta Community Animal Shelter listened, and paid a visit to Puppies, Fish, and Critters the following day. Although this incident has been resolved, it’s a good reminder why not to buy an animal from a pet store.        

1. There is no Humane Society in the province that registers and inspects breeders, and if they did, they would not approve breeders who sold their pets in stores. In fact the Canadian Kennel Club does not allow their members to sell their dogs in stores. 

2. The SPCA does not have a breeder inspection program (like the farm certification program), and it is more likely that they would only inspect a breeder if there had been a complaint filed on the breeding practices, and / or conditions of the animals in the breeders care. 

3. Puppy mills are not the only inhumane breeding source. Cities and towns across the country are full of “backyard breeders” who, like puppy millers, breed solely for profit, with no consideration to the health and well being of the animal. 

In 2022 Puppies, Fish, & Critters closed its doors.


Another woman's heartbreaking lesson about buying from a pet store

April 23, 2016 PJ's Pets is closing 27 stores across Canada. The 27 stores that are closing include one in Newfoundland and Labrador, one store in Prince Edward Island, six in Nova Scotia, three in New Brunswick, 11 in Ontario, and five in British Columbia. The Price Waterhouse Cooper report said the pet store chain has accumulated losses totalling $16.5 million since 2013.

BC pet stores receive complaints; Doggie World, Puppy Paradise under fire, new BC Bill M214 hits roadblock, reintroduced 2016; update 2017, 2019 system not set up

Cat, dog sale ban decision delayed, but change on way in Canada; Toronto, Waterloo, Maple Ridge, Vancouver modernize bylaws; rabbit sales banned

Related: Petcetera files for bankruptcy protection 2009, SPCA owed money; files again in 2014, out of business!

When those with the authority fail to act, one can expect individual or collective action to right a wrong.