August 30, 2011 29 Comments
Guess where I went today.
This is one of Calgary’s many Petland locations. And I went to confirm some rumours I’d been hearing.
And I probably don’t need to tell you that I haven’t been inside of Petland, well, since that last time.
I first sensed the light breeze of the Winds of Change when I came across this ad in advance of the weekend:
Since Petland actually does sometimes use the word “adopt” to refer to retail pet sales, I was pretty cynical when I saw it. And I was even more cynical on Saturday when I was told Action Speak Louder (Calgary)’s favourite two-time television debate opponent, Robert Church, was on the radio, live on location, promoting the adopt-a-thon.
But then a complete stranger shared an interesting observation on Twitter yesterday, and I decided I had to go for another field trip.
I mean, I have been waiting with bated breath for a response to my letter to Petland. I really wanted at least one reply and based on their history of having several staff members stop by the Soapbox and write openly, I was a little surprised and dejected when I didn’t get one.
And I refuse to accept that this note posted on Petland Canada’s Facebook page – posted for all 323 Facebook fans of theirs to read – is my response. Though it did come out one day following my letter so… who’s to say? But it’s more of the same blanket reassurances as usual, without any actual proof, transparency, or specifics. If it’s a reply, it’s not a very good one.
So based on that, and on Mr. Church’s vehement defences of Petland’s practices in the recent televised debates, I was skeptical; a Petland going adoption only? In Calgary? Can it be true?
I should note, it wouldn’t be the first time for Petland. There is a Petland in Winnipeg that has served as a satellite adoption centre for the Winnipeg Humane Society for quite some time now. And there are a couple of Petland locations in the U.S. that have also gone the way of PJ’s Pets, and opted for adoption only for dogs, cats, or both.
So this evening I stroll into the Coventry Hills Petland location unencumbered, a little surprised my face isn’t posted on a wall in the front, America’s-Most-Wanted-style.
And the first thing I notice?
There are no puppies. None.
Several cats, but the windows that would house available puppies are dark and empty.
And near the kittens, it says this:
So I flagged down a Pet Counsellor and start asking questions.
And it turns out the rumours are true! Which is great!
This Petland location will no longer be selling dogs and cats. Instead, they will be partnering with local rescue organizations to house adoptable cats and bring in adoptable dogs on weekends during adopt-a-thons.
To clarify, currently, the cats are a mix of Petland cats and adoptable ones. Evidently no other locations were able to take on the retail kittens, so they will be selling the ones they have left and going adoption only for cats after that.
The ad for last Saturday’s adopt-a-thon was for the first one they’d hosted and the partnering rescue for that weekend was the affiliated Pets for Life Foundation. The Pet Counsellor informed me that they have canvassed “all of the local rescues”, naming both specifically the Calgary Humane Society and ARF (Alberta Rescue Foundation), and that it will be one of a number of local rescues bringing in adoptable animals any given weekend (have yet to get confirmation of this partnership from the rescues, however).
[Update, August 31, 2011: ARF (Alberta Rescue Foundation) confirms they have, in fact, not been approached by Petland to participate in this program, and that they would not be interested in doing so in any event until all Petland Canada locations cease selling all dogs and cats.]
The Pet Counsellor was unable to confirm whether or not adoptions would be handled through Petland or through the rescue, being a little unfamiliar with the new process. But she did tell me that this location is serving as a pilot for the other Calgary locations, to see how the process works, if it’s successful, and to work out the kinks before other locations also make the switch (if they do).
Personally, I’m stoked. This is probably the best response to my letter I could get – them doing exactly what I have asked and only 11 days after the request!
(Not that I truly think my sad little letter spurred this change, but a gal can dream, right?)
I am admittedly confused, though.
I’m not complaining, but I am perplexed. I mean, why go to such great lengths to defend Petland policies and practices, strongly asserting the belief that the retail sale of pets is doing the right thing for the right reasons, only to turn around and change policies for the better as requested? It’s like the weird defence of financing pet purchases all over again. Or why, even amongst all the advertising of the adopt-a-thon, is there no mention that the Coventry Hills location is now adoption only? That’s huge news! … Isn’t it?
Oh well. I doubt I’ll ever get insight behind that, but it truly doesn’t matter.
What matters is that there is a Petland location here in Calgary that has made the ethical choice to go adoption only.
So what next?
Check out the weekend adopt-a-thons. Tell them how much you appreciate and respect this move! If you’re a Petland shopper, instead of going to the Petland in your neighbourhood, drive a little further to the Coventry Hills one and give them your business!
Show them with the only thing that matters to a company – your dollars – that you are supportive and enthusiastic about this improvement. Encourage them not to change back; it’s a pilot program, remember, and a Petland in Wheaton, Illinois attempted this model in 2010, only to change back 3 months later.
Support this Petland so that other locations will start do to the same. Yes, one location is a big deal and a good step, and shows they’re willing to consider change, but there are seven more in this city (35 more across the country) I expect to follow suit.
One franchise, one city, one store location at a time – the pet industry is changing. For the better.
(Though, the Grammar Nerd in me would like to point out that we’re in Canada and it should be Adoption “Centre”, but one battle at a time, right?)