Okay, so this won't win me any popularity contests, probably, but it's my rant for today and it's how I feel... and I am not an innocent in this rant either, for the record.
What is the point in whining about how cruel and nasty pet stores and walmarts are to fish, while persisting in giving them money, and thereby supporting their ongoing cruelty with your dollars while there's ethical, if not more convenient, alternatives?
The fish being "rescued" from those stinky little cups wouldn't even be stocked at all if people just stopped buying them -- and therefore had no reason to be going back to spend however much else on all the crap needed to fix its terrible health, which the store probably caused in the first place. And sure, ONE person removing their custom won't make a difference. But there's how many tens of thousands of registered "betta lovers" on this site, and all the other sites, and who knows how many readers. That's a LOT of customers moving their money elsewhere.
Do we really care that much? Not enough to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of the bigger picture, it seems.
I'm not at all opposed to pet store fish, if the store is ethical in its approach to the livestock it sells. But by giving my money to unethical stores, to practitioners and merchants of appalling cruelty and suffering, I am supporting -- no, I'm helping to fund
-- the deaths of hundreds more fish, all the ones I can't "rescue" with my dollars.
I would not support a business which sold sickly two week old kittens, telling people they could raise it in a pet carrier all of its life and clean its poo out once a month. I would not purchase one, and then have the lack of wit to complain about their cruelty like I was not in part directly responsible for the suffering. I'd call the SPCA, is what I'd do.
But a betta isn't a kitten, is it? It's just a fish, right? And my needs as a fish owner far outweigh any moral or ethical issues I might feel toward the poor creatures left behind in that shop of horrors, who are not the current beloved, gorgeous, foo-foo "rescue" swimming around in my tank right now. It's hypocrisy, is what that is, IMO. Roads paved with good intentions, etc.
And don't get me started on breeders who sell their fish to these places and pretend to be concerned about betta welfare. They have to KNOW the fish they are responsible for bringing into the world are GOING to end up in a tiny, filthy cup, their life expectancy seriously hampered, or dying right there on the shelf, if not sent home with a noob who was lied to about the fish liking to live in a quarter gallon of cold water. Seriously?
I'm way too angry about this today. Maybe I've read too much "OMG-petsmart-is-so-mean-and-look-i-bought-a-fish-squee". One too many "help, the pet store lied to me"s from people coerced into unwitting complicity by dishonest or intimidated-by-the-boss pet store staff, and who have just purchased a big pile of guilt and worry along with their $7.99 "easy to keep" fish.
The betta industry as a whole (outside of small pockets of genuine hobbyists and caring pet owners) is built on lies, entrenched misinformation and a general disregard for the wellbeing of living things, and on people thinking of everything -but- the welfare of the fish -- and the enormity of this, and the enormity of the suffering it causes, freaks me out just a tiny bit.
I'm sure there's a million arguments to refute whatever. Okay. But I will not feel bad about disliking hypocrisy when I see it, and I will never buy another fish out of a tiny, dirty cup amid finrot and "betta bows on special" ever, ever again.
Just my opinion.