Reviled Pet Store Moves Into Eastside

Well, the yuppies have certainly done it now.  Not satisfied with their choice of hundreds of homeless pets available through the nearby Animal Rescue League and the wonderful pet products offered by Smiley's Pet Pad on Highland Avenue, developers have brought in what is possibly the most low-rent tenant possible for this up and coming part of town – Petland. 

Petland is the ickiest of the pet store chains because they sell dogs and cats and have a horrible reputation for purchasing their animals from puppy mills.  And, yes, a puppy mill is just as awful as it sounds … almost literally grinding out dogs, designer and otherwise, for consumption by oblivious members of the general public.

It comes down to this … there are tens of thousands of pets available through our local shelters and rescue groups. If you want a specific breed or a dog that has been tested with small children or what have you, then you can find that special pet with the help of experts who make it their life's passion to rehome unwanted pets.  You can go to and search for dogs in the Pittsburgh area as well as find contact information for the breed rescues.  You can go to for similar information.  You can go to Animal Rescue League, Animal Friends and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.  You could even go to a reputable breeder, many of whom rescue their breeds, too. 

Don't go buy a dog and contribute to a market system that flourishes on the back of poor little breeding animals living miserably in cages.  You aren't saving the dog in the window of Petland — you are creating a vacancy for another poor puppy.  Don't buy your toys there, your food there or your leashes and collars. 

Protestors are turning out on a consistent basis at the Petland Store to draw public attention to their ickiness.  The City Paper ran a nice little story which gave the owner ample room to demonstrate what doofus he is.  Yes, I called him a doofus. Anyone who chooses to make a living at the expense of animal welfare deserves far worse.

“We encourage people to adopt animals from shelters,” says Eric Caplan. But “Those animals are not for everybody — if they don't find the right pet [at a shelter], should they not have a pet?” Caplan says Petland's animals are checked by vets, and their temperament is examined before they're sold. And even pet lovers who get their animals from the shelter have reason to celebrate Petland's arrival, Caplan says: Pet guardians need a place to buy food, treats and toys, he points out, and ARL sells only very basic supplies.

Pet guardians?  What the hell is that?  First of all, you can typically find the right animal at a shelter or through the rescue world with just a little patience.  Second, while ARL only sells basic supplies, Smiley's is right around the corner on Highland Avenue with all of your needs.   Not to mention Petco is at the Waterworks and a lot of supplies are available at the local Giant Eagle right across the street.  Most people I know fall into one of two categories — those who buy pet stuff at the grocery store or those who drive 800 zillion miles to get a very specific type of food.  No one on the East End was suffering for lack of pet supply access. 

I think Caplan sounds like a real genius and I hope the protests grow.  I'm sure many local folks will be duped into shopping at the store without realizing they are damaging the upscale climate they aspire to create on that end of town.

Can you find just the right dog?  Yes.  When we lost Mona, we waited until the time was right and made a list of the attributes we needed in our next pet for her to fit into our household.  Our trainer friend gave us some advice.  She needed to be a female and younger than our other dogs for the sake of peace.  She had to be okay with other dogs and with cats.  We were looking for about a 30lb female around 2 years of age.  We ended up with a 9 lb female around 2 years of age b/c we discovered Ana.  Ana lived in a foster home with five other very large dogs, bigger than our boys even.  That was a huge plus.  Ana had lived around cats.  Another plus.  Ana was housebroken.  Plus.  The drawbacks were that Ana was socially backward and very nervous in new social settings.  We could work with that.  Ana had been kicked by someone in her original home and had a broken pelvis that had healed.  That sealed the deal for us b/c it was very similar to Mona's backstory.

So we found the 'perfect' dog with a little effort and some patience.  It cost us $150 for her adoption fee which gave us a spayed dog up to date on all vaccinations, housebroken and relatively healthy.  It took us two weeks to fully integrate her into the household — righ tnow she's draped across Xander's back legs, sleeping peacefully.  She may have longterm consequences of her injury, but there's no way to predict long term health consequences/expenses for any pet — even the most high end bred dog can develop cancer or something equally awful.  

Eric Caplan and his wife made a choice to make their living at the expense of helpless animals.  They could have affiliated with another chain or gone the independent route.  Every dog they sell means another local homeless pet dies.  Every cat they sell means another litter is being coaxed from a mama cat living her entire life in a cage. Does Caplan really think the puppy mill owners are “pet guardians?”

Spare me.  He's a capitalist jerk making money and not too many rungs down from Michael Vicks on the evil people ladder.  Hopefully, East Liberty residents and their neighbors will make the smart choice and avoid this business. 


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