Instead, the company will make the space available for pet adoption organizations, allowing them to educate prospective owners, advertise pets in need of a home and process adoption applications. Some pet stores might even offer kennel space, reports the Toronto Sun.
"More than two million pet lovers visit our stores every year. We recognized that we can provide a significantly positive effect on local pet communities by working with adoption agencies to help them find homes for their pets," said president and CEO John Jules in a news release.
Not surprisingly, pet adoption agencies were supportive of the company's move.
"We applaud what PJ's Pets and Pets Unlimited are doing in giving up puppy sales to help organizations like ours find homes for more pets," said Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, in the release.
The reaction from the Humane Society of Canada was also congratulatory, but highlighted the links between pet stores and animal overpopulation.
In an interview with CTV News Channel, Michael O'Sullivan, the CEO of the Humane Society of Canada, said, "I think it puts the responsibility where it belongs and it's wonderful for the animals," he told CTV News Channel. "You actually do an adoption process, so that the animals don't come back even to the shelter for the same reasons they came. And you look for a permanent loving home."
The pet store's change of heart comes at a time of growing public awareness and unrest over the perils of pet stores and puppy mills, which campaigners say often inhumanely treat animals in favor of profits.
According to Ed Sayres, ASPCA President, puppy mills are large-scale commercial breeding operations where the dogs live in filthy, overcrowded, wire-bottom cages stacked on top of each other. He blogs for The Huffington Post, "They are often crammed in dark, poorly ventilated sheds where they are exposed to sweltering temperatures in the summer and below-freezing temperatures in the winter. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. Sometimes these helpless dogs are even too sick to move."
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.
According to a USA Today report, part of the problem with puppy mills is ignorance. A study conducted by the ASPCA last fall surveyed 800 adults across the country and found that "78% told interviewers they believe that puppies sold in pet stores come from such places as shelters, or private owners whose pets had litters, or that they really have no idea where the animals come from."
Last year, PETA launched a controversial ad asking, "If you buy a dog, what will you do with the shelter dog you kill?"