Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Picayune, Mississippi (Near New Orleans, LA)
I've struggled with this one. I've seen the conditions at places like petsmart and petco, and walmart.. UGH. I had a betta as a child that I named "Rainbow Fish." My family and I didn't know anything about proper betta care, so we kept poor Rainbow Fish in a pint container on the mantle. I was pretty meticulous about caring for him, I gave him very frequent water changes, carried his little tank to my barbie house to be barbie's fish, and spent hours watching him. He lived for over 3 years. I still feel guilty about that pint tank.
I didn't get another betta until college, when I was in my local walmart, and they'd closed down their fish department (thankfully). I saw that there was one last betta, and he ironically looked EXACTLY like my old fish from when I was a kid. His water was super low. I'm pretty sure they'd forgotten about him, because he was ravenous when I got him home. I've had him for a little over a year now, his photo is in my betta album. His name is Puff, the Magic Betta.
I don't think the big name petstores are going to stop carrying bettas. People buy them for their kids like my parents did, and they're not expensive, so if they die in those awful cramped containers they can trash them and order more. I think it's kind to take a betta out of that situation. HOWEVER. The little local pet shop that takes care of their bettas can very easily go out of business. It's a lot harder to be the little guy, especially in this economy.
Here's my idea: If you decide you want to take in one of the bettas from the big pet store that is clearly suffering, do it. You will not be stopping them from ordering more bettas if you don't buy one from them. But if you do that, buy all your food and equipment from the local store. I think a store like that deserves business, and the equipment is more expensive than the fish by a large margin, so you would be helping the local store one way or the other.
I know how painful it is to see an animal in need. I understand why it's such a large debate, because if everybody buys from the pet shop to rescue, it supports the problem. I've just come to the realization that I can't walk away if I can do something to help.
I paid $40 to adopt my dog, Faustus, when I went to the shelter to volunteer and saw the horrifying conditions. I later forked over almost $500 to the vet for treatment and vaccines and neutering, he was malnourished and very sick. I guess I contributed to the problem with my $40. I hate that. But I adore my dog. He follows me everywhere, licks the tears from my face when I cry, lies by my side when I'm sick, and since I've had him my doctor decided that I am no longer in need of anti-depressant medication. So I don't regret what I did, because I made a difference in his life, and he's made a bigger one in mine.
I totally respect those who won't shop at petsmart/petco/walmart. I really do. I just wanted to share my point of view on the matter. I think we fish-lovers ought to fight for some animal rights for our scaley friends. They're so frequently disregarded, more people are upset over a starving puppy than a suffering fish. If we want to make an impact, we ought to work towards more regulation in the pet stores. I think that would be more effective than simply boycotting, and it would greatly reduce suffering. Just some food for thought!