If you walk into Allpets Emporium in Davie to purchase a leash or bag of dog food, you'll see the store is also selling animals you'd expect to encounter on a farm, or perhaps out in the wild. Recently, the selection included a pair of petite baby pigs, chickens in a coop, two fluffy young foxes, and an itty bitty goat in a pen with a bell around its neck.
"Most people love them. Typically, [the animals] don’t stay around long," said Allpets Emporium marketing director Nicholas Babb.
Farm animals and foxes are a relatively recent addition to
Mike Bober, president of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a trade association that works on legislative and regulatory issues, said he's not seen any data indicative of a trend among retailers adding farm animals. Nontraditional animals marketed as pets are generally regarded as a fringe segment of the industry. "They’re not what we would consider
Yet novel pets tend to be buzzworthy, especially when they're adopted by famous folks. Miley Cyrus posed nude last year for Paper magazine accompanied by pet pig Bubba Sue. In early May, Kylie Jenner posted Snapchat videos featuring a little pig in the grass:
As for farm animals at Allpets Emporium, the price for a Nigerian dwarf goat is $399.99, Babb said. The red fox and silver fox are each $599.99. The micro pigs cost $649.99.
Babb thinks if not overfed, the pigs will likely weigh between 50 and 60 pounds as
"People love interesting animals," Babb said.
But some critics warn against buying farm animals as pets. Modern Farmer magazine has reported that the sale of pet pigs is a "marketing scam" that has been around for two decades, and that the trend waxes and wanes.
Carmichael suggests before acquiring an unfamiliar breed, a potential buyer should do lots of research, including studying up on the animal's behavior and personality as an adult, its
"We hope people would think before they actually make that purchase," Carmichael said.
Susie Coston, national shelter director at Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit farm animal
Pigs and goats are meant to live outdoors in herd environments. They may be lonely and unhappy without others like them and likely are destructive in a residential environment. "They rip drywall, tear up carpet," she said.
"[Pigs] bite hard. They can crush walnuts in their mouths," Coston said. "They are exceedingly strong. They are all muscle." Goats may hurt people unintentionally, she said, because they head-butt roughly, even as a form of play.
With occasional exceptions, she said, many farm animals purchased as babies by well-intentioned pet owners are eventually unwanted. Pig sanctuaries around the nation, she said, are brimming with former pets. Farm Sanctuary doesn't take in former pet pigs, but it does adopt out rescued farm animals to those with suitable facilities.
Phone calls to several local animal shelters and animal rescue organizations in Broward and Palm Beach counties revealed they typically do not accept unwanted pet pigs, pet goats, or pet foxes, although some exceptions may apply.
Babb, the marketing manager of Allpets Emporium, said the store does not accept returns of live animals. He notes some staff members, however, might be inclined to personally help out with an unwanted pet. He said that's been done previously with birds, which some buyers no longer want because of the mess and noise.
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The fact that foxes are included in the retail array draws
"The sale of fox kits is of utmost concern to us, very distinct from the sale of farm animals as pets. It is neither a trend nor something we can condone in any context," said Cory Smith, director of
"Foxes do not belong in households, period, " she said. "Wild animals belong in the wild. There's no appropriate circumstance for having a fox as a pet. We have enough homeless pets out there; we don’t need to be creating new ones."
In Florida, a special permit is required to possess a fox. The Class III wildlife permit is issued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Babb said other than requiring that permit for the foxes, his store has no official vetting process for people purchasing pets. "We try and advocate responsible pet ownership at all times."