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Pet shops can be as small as a local, one-person operation or as gargantuan as a multinational, Internet-based company with hundreds of employees. Chances are you'll get your start somewhere in between—perhaps as a cashier working the register in a respected shop in your hometown.
In addition to providing often inadequate care to animals, pet shops that sell animals contribute to the already overwhelming problem of overpopulation in shelters and rescue groups.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, sales of live animals in the pet industry totaled $1.6 billion in 2004.
In a 2003 survey, only 38% of U.S. pet shops reported that they did not sell any live animals (birds, small animals, reptiles and amphibians, kittens, puppies, or salt or freshwater fish).
Most animals sold in pet shops are not protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act. Some states have laws that address the care and treatment of animals kept in a retail environment, but these laws vary widely in quality and scope.