For any animal lover, it’s heart-breaking to see street vendors selling baby animals on the side of the road. Often, these animals are in bad shape and kept in poor conditions, which tugs on our heartstrings even more. Your immediate reaction may be to purchase the animal just to save it from this situation. But is this the right thing to do?

Backyard breeders are one of SA’s biggest animal welfare problems

Backyard breeders, puppy mills and pet shops have created one of the most serious problems facing animal rescue organisations because they have tapped into a very lucrative market: sympathetic animal lovers.

It is totally understandable that your immediate reaction, upon seeing a puppy or kitten being sold at a robot, would be to buy it – if only to rescue it from a sad situation. But the problem with this is two-fold: firstly, most of these ‘rescued’ animals then end up at shelters, which are already overcrowded, starved of funding and struggling to home the animals they already have. Secondly, it creates a market for unscrupulous breeders, and they simply keep doing what they’re doing – namely, breeding animals in terrible conditions.

If no one buys these animals, there’ll be no business for puppy mills and pet shops, and their revenue stream will dry up. That’s why you should never buy animals from street vendors, no matter how much it may hurt you to see it.

And you may be surprised to discover that pet shops often purchase their animals from irresponsible breeders, so if you do decide to buy a puppy or kitten from a shop, find out where the animal came from first.

What should I do if I see a street vendor selling animals?

If the animals appear to be in poor condition or being mistreated, contact your local SPCA and report the situation. They will send an inspector out to investigate.

Here’s a complete list of all SPCA telephone numbers in South Africa.

If you have purchased an animal from a street vendor and you decide to keep it, please make sure you take it to your vet as soon as possible for a proper health check-up. Often these animals are weak or ill, haven’t been vaccinated, and need immediate medical attention

But remember: by purchasing the animal out of pity, you’re simply creating a market for puppy mills to keep breeding animals in subpar conditions for profit. Although it’s not illegal, morally and ethically it’s not right, and we understand your angst, frustration and sadness. However, the only way it can be stopped is if everyone takes a stand and refuses to buy animals from unscrupulous breeders.

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