Every year hundreds of animals are sold irresponsibly and without any care to their well-being. Not all, but so many end up suffering from serious behaviour and/or health problems. Poor breeding leads to genetic deficiencies, poor veterinary care leads to illnesses, and isolation can create behavioral problems. Too many of the animals end up abandoned and surrendered to an already over-burdened animal rescue system. We want that to stop this Christmas but we need your help to spread the word!

Did your pet from a store, online or disreputable breeder suffer from health or behavioral problems? Did you fall in love with a rescued animal or find your perfect pooch through a reputable breeder? Share your stories and photos here, and help us spread the word this Christmas that our Pets are Not Products.

Share our stories today! 

I am a dog walker in North Surrey, BC. . Oct 28, I dropped off a couple of dogs in Whalley, and noticed an emaciated Great Dane trying to cross one of the busiest streets in the city. It took me and a couple crack addicts ( it's a rough area) to get him in my jeep. He was sad, skinny but such a soft and old soul. I was leaving for Las Vegas the next day and with tears in my eyes dropped him off at the local Animal Rescue, knowing no one would claim him, and chances are he would be put down. My trip was horrible thinking about him, I arrived home phoned Sarc ( Surrey Animal Resource Centre) to find he had been sent to Saints animal rescue ( halaluhya!)

I found out he was to be put down but there was a mix up and the centre spared him and he went to Saints, I found out he was there and went to see him. I baked cookies, sponsored him, brought Saints blankets and toys and got to see him again. They named him Moose. I cried, he looked so good. He will have surgery this week to remove a possible cancerous tumour. He finally comes home forever to our house beginning of Jan. I can't thank Saints enough For this gift .

Kim Howcroft

Sorry for this late testimonial as I was out of story is about my now 1 year old lab/boxer mix named Micah. I didn’t know much about where to get dogs from so I went on a website named kijiji and that is where I found my dog. I messaged the owner asked her a lot of questions she seemed legit telling me all the shots were done and she’s healthy. I asked for proof she said she had it and would show me when I arrived at her dad’s house. I went and 15 minutes later was out with Micah. When I got home right away she poohed but it was all water I thought that was odd but still didn’t think it was serious until the next day when she wouldn’t eat she wouldn’t walk and was just shaking. I called the owner and the number was not in service I knew right then I had been lied to. I got her different food to see if she would eat but still nothing I didn’t know much about dogs but I knew she was slipping away so I finally took her to the closest vet and was told that Micah has parvo and would cost over 1000 dollars to save her and even then its 50/50. At first I was going to have to put her down but when I looked at that face and realized it’s a life and it can still live so I decided against it and thanks to all the donations and paws for hope the staff at Scottsdale vet hospital DR.Llewellyn they saved Micah who is 100 percent healthy.

mandeep gill

I considered myself a cat person. I love cats and never wanted a dog. I was terrified of dogs because I was bitten as a youngster and I thought they were all mean.

One day, I took my cat Shadow to the kennel as I was going on a 2 week holiday to Mexico. Shadow howled and I cried all the way there – we didn’t want to be apart.

When I arrived at the kennel I was met by the sweetest little puppy I had ever laid eyes on. She was there as a “foster pup” for the Okanagan Small Dog Rescue. Believe me when I say that I instantly fell madly in love and picked her up. She was about 5 pounds and looked at me as if she knew me. It was an odd experience for me.

I set the pup down so I could get my cat settled for his little holiday and the pup looked at me again and barked. All I can say is that I felt different.

So, there I was with my loving husband on a tropical vacation and I kept thinking about that little pup. I even woke up in the middle of the night thinking about her.

When I returned home from holidays I retrieved Shadow from the kennel and discovered that the little rescued pup was still there. Wow. I can’t describe how I felt. I almost forgot about Shadow as I was cuddling the little puppy.

I learned that the puppy’s name was “Mouse” and she had been rescued from a puppy mill in Falkland, BC, along with 75 other dogs. Her estimated age was 5 months and there was concern that she was pregnant. WHAT??? Plus, she was on medication for severe kennel cough.

How could anyone in this world allow an animal as sweet as “Mouse” to be in an abusive situation?

Let me explain that at this time, I knew nothing about dogs…except that I thought that they all stunk and that they were pretty nice but, would poop and pee everywhere.

One day as I was incessantly talking about this poor little “Mouse” my husband said, “Why don’t you go get her?” I stopped in my tracks to think about it. Could I own a dog? What about Shadow? What if the dog was stinky? What if all she did was bark?

I phoned the kennel and said I wanted her. They laughed at me because they already knew I was hooked! They explained that Mini had “chosen me” as her mom the minute we saw each other. That’s what the weird feelings were about: Love and a connection.

My husband, our cat Shadow, and I adopted the little pup and changed her name from “Mouse” to “Mini”. We called her Mini Mouse while she got used to the new name and eventually dropped the “Mouse” portion.

To adopt our little Mini we paid $400 to the Okanagan Small Dog Rescue Society to cover the costs of her medication, being spade, and groomed. Not to mention the fact that we wanted to help out the rescue for all the good things they were doing. We filled out all of the adoption paperwork and waited about 6 weeks before we could bring her home.

It’s been about 5 years since Mini came to live with us and it seems we love her more and more every day. Her antics keep us laughing, we get off our butts and go for walks for her sake, which coincidentally helps our health, and we get to cuddle with our little fur baby. We lost Shadow back in March (he was 18 years old) and we were so lucky to have Mini’s love to help us get through the pain.

Now I am a volunteer with the Okanagan (Central) Small Dog Rescue and I do my best to help out where I can. I love love love dogs now and can’t believe I spent the first 45 years in the dark about dogs.

Dogs are the sweetest most loving animals in the world and they deserve the same in return. Please never purchase an animal from a breeder. Check out the dogs in rescue centers – maybe they don’t look like the one you had when you were growing up but, when you look into the eyes of a rescue dog, you will know that you made the right choice! Trust me!

Tobi McNeil

All my animals have been fosters and rescues, Yes I am a foster failure and proud of it, except for two. Our Husky was bought from a friend of a friend who breed them, and he passed at home in 2008. He had hip problems and back issues for many years, and many expensive vet bills.

My most recent adoption was from the Gatineau SPCA - Boots did not stand a chance at being adopted. He had already two strikes against him color and BSL. You see he is black and a Lab X Boxer mix. Everyone thinks he is a Mastiff or Pitt breed, because people really don`t know or understand their breeds. He is the best dog a person could ever ask for. He gets along well with our two stray cats and our other little muggel Kallie.

Please reconsider when looking for a fur baby and adopt. There are many breeds out there that are looking for good homes. Remember every time you choose to buy from a pet store, you inadvertently give the death sentence to a dog in a shelter. Always foster or adopt from your local rescues or shelters. They are the most deserving animals in the world.

Jo-Ann Harris

Krista Carlson I am Stella's foster mom, Stella is a puppy mill survivor that Cariboo Companion Animal Rescue and Rehab Society (CCARRS) has taken in. Stella came to our home at the end of October. I had adopted my little dog Ryder (he had many challenges) from CCARRS a few years ago and when I was asked about fostering we gladly said yes. I really had no idea what to expect, and knew very little about puppy mills before Stella arrived. Stella was terrified of people, and when cornered she would respond by biting. At first Stella wore a harness 24 hours a day with a long leash so we could get close enough to her when we needed to . We are still working with Stella daily to earn her trust. When Stella arrived she would not take food from us and would not eat with us in the room. Stella is not house broken and will eat her feces after she uses the bathroom. Stella will urinate on any piece of plastic. Stella has made lots of progress since coming to our home, but still has a long way to go. I hope people will think the next time they go to a pet store looking for a puppy, and realize these little cuties have had to come from somewhere. With patience, love and care, Ryder my little dog has become the most amazing little pup around. We receive compliments where ever we go, at the vet, in stores ect... I feel blessed to have such an amazing dog, that came from a rescue, and I could not have found a better dog for any amount of money. Next time when you consider getting another family member please think of those in rescues needing a fresh start, they are well worth it ! The little white dog is Stella, and my pup Ryder is brown and black.

Krista Carlson

This holiday season I want to share a personal story that I hope will shed some light on the importance of adopting and not shopping for those looking to expand their families with a furry family member.

Prior to having proper knowledge on where animals that are sold in pet stores and back yards come from I purchased a $1700.00 "sale puppy" from a backyard in Delta. This adorable little French Bulldog pup whom I named "Frenchie" ended up spending most of his life terribly ill with digestion issues, none of which were ever diagnosed. Through out his short four year life I spent thousands of dollars in vet bills trying to aid him from his undiagnosed illness. When Frenchie was four he woke up one morning very stiff, the next day he could only stand up, do a circle and then he would collapse. After $9,000 in medical attention he was diagnosed with meningitis and passed away the same day. To lose Frenchie so early and to watch him suffer such a nasty disease was heartbreaking. There are many stories like mine where families have ended up with the early loss of a loved pet and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars in vet bills from inbred pets from a pet store or backyard breeder. Please do not support these stores and people who do not have the animals best interest at heart and who are only out to run a business. Support your local shelter or rescue, there are so many sweet animals looking for their forever homes.

Breanna Laubach

A woman I knew bought a puppy from a well-known pet store, against my advice and warnings. This dog was the last one in his litter to be bought, and had been at the store, in a cage, for about 2 months. I believe to this day that this stunted his growth. She did ask if she could talk to the breeders for more information about the puppy's ligneage, but was told that the breeder did not want to be bothered, and got no further information.

After about a month with his new family, he developed a very painful limp, that became increasingly worse. It turned out to be a congenital defect in one of his legs, that required expensive surgery. The woman did not want to spend the money, and told me that she was considering euthanizing the puppy; even though it was a perfectly fixable defect, that would let him live a normal, healthy life. We adopted the dog from her and had the surgery done for thousands of dollars. Luckily she had taken one piece of my advice, and had the owner of the pet store mark in the sales contract that if there were any defects, they would get their money back. He did return their money, and she put that towards his surgery.

Not long after adopting him and having this surgery done, he developed another congenital defect, which made him very sick, and coud've cost him his life. Another surgery for thousands of dollars, and again a lot of money spent afterwards on special diets, rehabilitation, and working closely with vets.

He is now happy and healthy, but went through hell for the first year of his life. He is the light of our life, and we're so happy that we have him, and have absolutely no regrets. He is worth every amount of money. We just wish he could've been spared all the pain and suffering he went through because of bad breeding and a careless pet store owner.

Buying from pet stores or disreputable breeders is a sure-fire way to get a dog that has congenital defects, and often comes from deplorable living conditions. You will support animal abuse in many forms; starting with how the breeding animals and puppies are kept, to how much they have to suffer from health problems all their lives. Or they're given up and end up in shelters, maybe euthanized, from owners that can't or won't afford the care they need.

Tulip Neumann

I adopted Tia from BC Chihuahua Rescue. She is the typical puppy mill mom of the cute puppies you see in a petstore. A dog who had never been out of a cage, never walked on grass, screamed at human touch.

Tia spent her first few days hiding behind the computer desk when we first rescued her from the puppy mill, scurrying out the odd time to grab a few kibbles when she thought humans weren't around. She was handed to BC Chihuahua rescue one rainy evening with the puppy millers demanding a final last bit of money for her , and parting comments were "and she might be pregnant". Tia was 4 pounds. Her natural body weight should have been 8. She wasn't pregnant, thank goodness, but her body was worn out from being bred so much in her short life. They knew she wouldn't live through another pregnancy , so they got their last bit of money for her.

In her first year, she screamed and fear peed , whenever she was approached by a human. She ran to the other dogs for comfort. When I first put her on the grass for a walk, she didn't know what to do. She was five years old, had never been out of a cage, never ran, never felt the sun. But she provided for some very cute puppies at the pet stores.

It took years of love and patience for her to feel truly comfortable in my arms, the abuse this dog had lived with in her first five years of life haunted her always. She even died way younger than she should have. I've had a few dogs, but the loss of this one has affected me the most. She deserved to have many more good years than she had.

Remember, saving ONE animal won’t change the world, but it WILL change the world for that ONE animal. ………………….and TIA, I may have changed your life, but you changed mine in so many more ways. Run in heaven little one, greet the precious ones we never got to. We will continue to be the voice for those that don't have one.

Linda Lanyon

Pets are not products...we are part of your family.

We both thought we had forever families when we were puppies...but when we were each about 5, we were abandoned by those “families”. I almost ended up in a kill shelter and my life would have ended too soon.

We are thankful for people who rescue abandoned dogs, and we are thankful for people who understand we still have much joy to share and who choose to rescue and adopt, instead of supporting overbreeding puppy mills and pet stores.

We have our new forever family, and yes, it did take a few months of adjustment and work for all of us, but it has been more than worth it. And while we get lots of treats, and adventures and love, we know our new humans have gained just as much as we have...because we radiate back all that love and joy into their lives.

So, our Christmas wish is to please remember: #AdoptDontShop

Molly Isaacs

In February 2004, I purchased Shelby, a female Bernese Mountain Dog from Pet Habitat in Burnaby, BC. From day one, there was one health problem after another.

The Vet I took her to for her first exam was supposed to be "free." Hundreds of dollars later I discovered that Shelby had colitis. This diagnose didn't come without extreme anxiety as initially the Vet advised me that he thought Shelby had the parvo virus. I felt like a walking wallet so I quickly did some research to find a good Vet. Day one having this puppy and already no support from Pet Habitat.

A couple days after purchasing Shelby, she got an eye infection. Then she was diagnosed with mange. I contacted the owner of Pet Habitat, he explained to me that it was impossible that she had mange because he gives all the puppies a dose of medication so they won't get mange. In my opinion he did not have a clue what he is talking about.
The mange, eye infection and colitis turned out to be the least of my worries. At six months of age, Shelby was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia in both hips. She also had chronic urinary tract infections and bladder problems. In October 2004, she had a triple pelvic osteotomy (her hip was broken in 3 places and repositioned in the correct position). December 2004 she had a fragmented coronoid process on her elbow where a bone fragment the size of a pea was removed. She also had a vaginectomy in hopes that it would help her UTI’s and bladder problems. It did not.

When I advised the owner of Pet Habitat about all Shelby's conditions, he offered me a new puppy. There is no chance that I would ever give her up, not for anything in the world. Just out of curiosity I asked him if I returned Shelby, what he would do with her. His response was "I will resell her." I asked him if he would advise the potential buyers of all her health problems. He did not respond to my question. I asked the owner to pay for her surgeries. He would not do this and explained that he would only be willing to replace her with another puppy.

I attempted to get info about Shelby's parents and the “breeder” she came from. I was told by the owner of Pet Habitat that there is no way of finding out as she came through a broker. I was in contact with a lady from the BMDCQ (Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Quebec) and she thinks that Shelby came from the largest puppy mill in Quebec. This much I do know for certain, Shelby did come from Quebec.

Shelby endured a lifetime of health problems and as a result, was medicated her entire life to manage her pain and help prevent UTI’s from returning. In addition to medications, Shelby went for regular indoor swims and underwater treadmill workouts for low impact exercise that was very helpful to her joints.

Sadly, Shelby passed away in June 2013, she was 9.5 years old. She had a brain tumour. Shelby was purchased for $1388.00 and during her lifetime had over $40K in medical expenses. That does not include rehab and supplements I purchased.

PLEASE, do your research when looking to purchase a pet. There are many reputable rescues around that have wonderful pets for adoption. If you must have a puppy, kitten, or small animal, please do not purchase from a pet store, online, newspaper or from a back yard breeder. These sources for pets do not care about the well being of the pets they are selling or about the conditions in which the animals they are breeding are kept in. They are in the business of breeding animals for profit, bottom line! Pets are not Products! They are a lifetime commitment that require attention, love and are an ongoing financial obligation.

Thank you for reading our story.

Kelley & Shelby who is always in my heart!

Kelley Hill

I decided to foster two puppies that were coming from an LA shelter who were in terrible shape. Originally there was three puppies but one didn't pull threw. They were dropped off at a kill shelter where they ended up with kennel cough that turned into Pneumonia. They were just skin and bones. After a few days one of the puppies was just not improving and soon ended back at the vets. We didn't think she would make it. Well after a few long tearful days she was able to come home. The healthy pup was adopted and then i could just focus on the one. Well I am sure you can guess i became a foster failure and now a proud Mom of a eight month pitbull cross. She still has some health problems but soon she will be good as gold
Just yesterday she got to chase her first snow ball. I am just loving see her improve everyday. I cant express the joy i get from her.

sandra Turner

My dogs pregnant mother was rescued by Okanagon Small Dog Rescue from a Puppy Mill in Lumby, B.C. The story was featured on Global TV. I offered to take a mother dog as I thought they would be less popular but they called back and said would I mind taking a puppy - are you kidding. She suffers from separation anxiety and has a strange lumpy skull, but we love her to bits. You can rescue any breed of dog you want. She is a PB Labrador.

Sally Tarasoff
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