Canadian chain PJ’s Pets to stop selling puppies

The Canadian chain PJ's Pets has announced it will stop selling puppies as of September 1.

PJ's will be shifting its focus to adoption, helping to find homes for animals living in shelters as part of their Every Pet Deserves A Home Program.

PJ's and its sister company, Pets Unlimited, will offer space in their stores to pet adoption services both to educate and to advertise animals available for adoption. Stores with enough space will actually house adoptable pets.

"We chose to stop selling puppies and turn our focus on the new adoption program. This decision allows us to create the welcoming space within our stores needed for adoption agencies and customers to connect," said PJ's CEO, John Jules, in a statement.

The move will have an impact on PJ's bottom line. Stacey Halliday, PJ's director of marketing, told the Toronto Star puppies currently account for 7 per cent of business, despite the fact that dogs are only sold at six of the chain's 41 stores.

Christopher Barry, interim CEO, of the Toronto Humane Society praised the decision in a statement. "This initiative will deter the breeding of puppies for sale in pet stores and give hundreds of homeless pets and shelter animals a better opportunity to find a home. We encourage more stores to follow their example."

PJ's adoption initiative comes amid growing public awareness about the source of most puppies found in pet store windows.

In 2009, CBC's Marketplace ran a piece on puppy mills and pet stores, which alleged that PJ's sold puppies with health problems indicative of being raised in factory-farm conditions. PJ's declined to comment for the CBC report and asserted that all their puppies were raised by reputable breeders in healthy conditions, a position they maintain to this day on their website.

The report targeted the Hunte Corporation, a U.S. company which buys and sells tens of thousands of puppies. Marketplace found Hunte regularly bought dogs from breeders who housed dogs in confined spaces.

In the U.S., the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has launched a campaign to end puppy mills, focusing  on naming stores that sell dogs.

Whether PJ's move will prompt other pet store chains in Canada and the United States to follow suit remains to be seen, but it's clear the pressure is mounting.

(Photo: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)