You’d either have to be my age, or a fan of early ’50’s music, or a fan of Patti Page to know this song, I’d guess, but I can tell you that it was my very first favorite song. Like all little kids, I would sing it all the time until my parents wanted to shoot me.
Now of course, I know better, and I’d just like to ask…is there any more depressing place than a pet store? I just returned from my neighborhood pet store, Panhandle Pet Supply, and feel a need to have my memory scrubbed, a la Arnold in “Total Recall”.
The pet store business is complete anathema to rescue people, whether they be breed rescues, shelters, or general rescue groups, mainly because pet stores are the retail outlets for puppy mills. Therefore, some pet stores avoid this association by only selling what they refer to as “small animals”. No dogs or cats.
That’s how it is with Panhandle Pet Supply and PetSmart. They sell birds, rabbits, hamsters, rats, lizards, and fish. So here is my undercover report on the local Panhandle Pet Supply.
First of all, when you see animals in these circumstances, you just want to scoop them all up and take them home. Which, believe it or not, is a sort of marketing ploy in some cases. They know you don’t want to see little Fido and Fifi confined behind that glass case for the rest of their lives. You can save them from that horrible fate for around $400 or so.
So…back to Panhandle Pet Supply. They have a ton of fish tanks, most of which are empty (hint to management: this is not good marketing), and all of them are dirty. The water looked fairly clean, but the outside of the tanks are covered with lime deposits. I wanted to hug the fish and help them escape. Of course, they would need to escape somewhere other than my house, because I don’t have a good history with fish.
In the bird category, we had two glass cases containing parakeets ($14.99 each) and cockatiels ($69.99 each). Then we had your basic mammals, which consisted of dwarf hamsters (approximately half a million of them divided into two cases); rabbits and guinea pigs, which in two cases were sharing the same glass case; and rats.
I’m not sure about the protocol for housing rabbits and guinea pigs together; as far as I know, they’re both pretty peaceful creatures and aren’t likely to try to eat each other (especially being vegetarians), but it just seems like they would be more comfortable being imprisoned with a member of their own species. My guess is that the female guinea pig was housed with the male rabbit, and the male guinea pig was housed with the female rabbit, if you catch my drift.
But the big deal was the rats. All the prices were marked in grease pencil on the cages (Large Male Rat $6.99) along with other information such as the fact that female rats are not for sale. (Further hint to management: grease pencil is not a current advertising strategy.) Another case specified that nursing female rats were not for sale. So which is it?
The first case I stopped at, there was a female nursing rat with five little red, eyeless, squirming babies. She left them and crept toward the water bowl, where she did not appear to have the energy to lift her front half up to actually drink. Another rat in the same case was nibbling on a piece of what was either food or bedding. Not that rats particularly care, I think, but it was definitely hard to tell which was which, even for me. In the rabbit/guinea pig cages, there was a distinct separation between food and bedding…for one thing, the food was in a bowl. In the rat cages, the food was dumped in a corner and the difference was that the food was brown as opposed to gray. It looked like the bedding was just old food.
It may seem odd to have sympathy for rats. But…it was hard. Finally an employee came over and asked if she could help, and I wanted to say, Yes, bring me a trash can because I think I’m going to throw up. Of course what I said was, No, I’m just looking. And what I wanted to say is, I’m just looking at this mother rat who can’t even work up the energy to drink water, while her little naked babies are over in the corner freezing to death without her. And furthermore, I’m not buying any damn dog food from you either, which is why I even came into this godforsaken place.