Impulse Buying

There is something about the pet industry that drives me crazy and makes me super mad. And that is how so, so many places and people push impulse buying.

I'm the kind of person who spends weeks to months (or sometimes years) researching an animal before I get it. This is a really good thing to do, especially when you're talking about exotic pets. There has been more than one occasion where I was considering getting a new pet and decided against it after I researched them. Obviously, no amount of research can prepare you completely for the real thing, but it is so much better to at least have an idea of what you're doing before you do it and to make sure it's what you really want.

And so whenever I see somebody selling an animal by encouraging impulse buying, it really makes me mad. More than likely, the buyer has no clue how to care for their new pet, and what little information they got from the seller is probably wrong.

One of the most common places for impulse buying, at least in my area, is flea markets. I've seen everything from sugar gliders to birds to puppies at flea markets. My sister-in-law told me that there is an African Grey at a weekly flea market in one of the suburbs. When you see these animals at flea markets, they are kept in cages that are far too small. They are subjected to the stress of hundreds of people walking past them and the loud noises of the crowd. They are exposed to harmful things, anything from a bacteria that could infect them to poisonous fumes. Oftentimes, they have to share their already small cages with another of their same kind. The person selling the animal treats it like any other non-living ware, not bothering to make sure a good home is found.

Another place that I have seen this happen is at malls, particularly around Christmas time (FYI, pets do not usually make good presents, but that's another subject entirely). Just locally, I have seen hermit crabs, African dwarf frogs, and even sugar gliders. The hermit crabs didn't bother me too much, other than the cages that are sold along with them are much too small, but hermit crabs are pretty easy pets (at least in my experience). The African dwarf frogs that were being sold one Christmas season made me pretty mad. They were being sold in containers that held no more than two quarts of water. The seller was telling people the frogs only needed to be fed once a week and the water only needed changing once every six months. I was appalled.

The mall pet kiosk that really made me mad was the one selling sugar gliders last Christmas. They didn't even have the decency to call them sugar gliders, but instead called them "sugar babies". When I saw this at the mall, I couldn't even make myself walk past that kiosk. I very likely would've gone off on the seller. I would probably have yelled at him. I was tempted to slap him without even going close. Sugar glider welfare is very close to my heart, having rescued and rehomed more than one glider, so I would not have been able to hold my tongue if I had gotten close to that kiosk.

Fortunately, the sugar glider selling at the mall didn't last long. While I was at a local pet store, two cops were in buying some fish and I overheard their conversation with one of them employees. They were talking about the sugar gliders at the mall. One of the cops told the employee that they were trying to shut it down. When I went back to the mall a week later, there were no sugar gliders to be seen.

The last place that I've noticed encouraging impulse buying shouldn't be a surprise. If you're reading this blog, chances are that you've been in one of these places where the most impulse buying occurs. What place is this? Pet stores. Pet stores are among the worst, if not THE worst offender of encouraging people to make impulse buys. A family walks into a pet store, possibly looking for a new pet or maybe they're just buying dog food. The kids see a hamster. "Aww, isn't he cute?" the kid says. "Mommy, can we take him home?"

This happens everyday in pet stores. The family will take home their new pet, plus everything the pet store tells them they need--food, cage, bedding, toys, and so on. Pet stores know very well about the power of impulses. They know a new pet owner will not only but the animal, but will likely buy whatever else the store tells them to because the new owner probably doesn't know much about his or her new pet. After all, the profit isn't coming from the hamster--it's coming from everything else that they family buys that the hamster needs.

So, please, for the sake of animals everywhere, don't buy an animal on impulse.


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