Her voice transmitted through the gauze mask, sounding a bit stuffy.
White coats were a magical existence. When one was put on, it could perfectly conceal any merit or defect of the original body, although the white coats in the movies were not the same as here.
This woman was wearing a white coat, covering her face with a gauze mask, and wearing a disposable head cover that was usually used in surgical rooms. Zhang Zian could only see her bright and clean forehead, her glistening eyes, and a little bit of black hair sticking out from the head cover.
"Yeah, I own a pet shop and wanted to check on the supply," he replied.
The woman peeked outside then turned around and said, "I’ll take you in, but today we are short-handed, so we’re a little busy."
"I noticed," he responded with a smile.
The Pet’s Home store also had a waiting room, but it was all one big, open space, not like the few small ones in the Love Lovely Pet store. "Please wait here, I will go and get someone to help you." The woman brought him up to the entrance of the waiting room but didn’t go inside. Zhang Zian followed her and asked, "Can I visit the breeding ground?"
He was just trying to check if this was possible, because he wasn’t sure whether this woman worked here or not. Perhaps she was just a temporarily hired vet for the pets, and her words didn’t count.
Almost without any hesitation, the woman nodded. "That’s fine, you can follow me."
Following this woman, he walked by the waiting room, the office, and the storage room. Way in the back, there was a large area blocked by a metal fence. The smell of chemical disinfectant was discernable from far away; one couldn’t miss it even if he closed his eyes.
The fence was loosely held, without a lock. The woman easily opened the door. "Come in."
Behind the door, there was a world of pets.
Over ten rows of breeding houses built with red bricks were lined up in order, like troops lined up for review. There was a two-meter-wide corridor in between the rows. A man was working in a sterilized, light-blue one-piece uniform.
The man was carrying a sprayer; both hands were wearing latex gloves, holding the sprayer pole, and spraying the diluted sterilizer while he stepped backward.
"Dad! We have a guest!" the woman called from the back.
The man did not respond at all, instead continuing his spray job.
Besides the noise from the sprayer, they were surrounded by a few hundred pets, and the many barks were enough to cover normal voices.
The woman smiled at Zhang Zian apologetically, but the smile was hidden behind the gauze mask, so he only saw her eyebrow curved.
She took a few steps forward and patted the man’s shoulder.
The man turned around and saw his daughter first, but then his eyes moved up and saw Zhang Zian, who was right behind her.
He turned off the automatic sprayer, took off the ear plugs, and pulled down the hygiene mask. Under the mask was a farmer-like, wrinkle-filled face.
"What’s up?" he asked loudly.
"Dad! This man owns a pet store and wants to buy pets," the woman replied loudly as well.
The man frowned, "Go and wait at the front desk if you are purchasing a pet. I am almost finished here.
Zhang Zian raised his voice, "No problem! Please continue your work. I will wait here!"
The woman pulled Zhang Zian and pointed to the corner of the wall that blocked the incoming wind, hinting that he should wait there so the smell of the disinfectant spray wouldn’t travel through the wind and stain his clothes.
Zhang Zian did not mind at all since his cheap clothing was purchased online. Furthermore, he too had to use all kinds of disinfectants daily to sterilize his shop. Any one kind of disinfectant could not be used too long. They had to be used alternatingly or mixed together to avoid pathogenic bacteria developing a resistance.
But it was hard to refuse such a thoughtful suggestion, so he followed the women to the corner of the wall, watching the man put his ear plugs and gauze mask back on and continue spraying.
"That is your father?" he asked.
The woman took off her gauze mask, revealing a fresh-looking face.
She curled her lips and said, "A stingy old man! He would not pay his daughter to help him with the pets’ immunization shots, or even cover the cost of gas."
"You are family, so there’s no reason to talk about the cost." Zhang Xian grinned. Because he had just lost his parents, he knew how valuable family was.
"Yeah right! He just uses me as a free employee," she complained angrily.
Zhang Zian was here to pick out some pets, not flirt with a woman. After a few casual conversations with her, his focus transferred to the arrangement and details of the breeding farm.
In these rows of breeding houses, there were mother cats and dogs nurturing their newborns or getting ready for labor. The noises rose and fell in succession.
The outside of each breeding room was tagged with a plastic index card. They were labeled "1", "2", "3", and "4" and had clear indications of dates. He did not understand what they stood for.
Since he was here to visit the breeding ground, anything unclear should be clarified, so he asked her.
"Oh, you mean that…?" She looked at where he had pointed and replied, "They are cats’ or dogs’ birth counts and birth dates."
Zhang Zian was briefly dazed but then understood immediately.
For cats and dogs, they could not continuously give birth until their death. In reality, the more they gave birth, the higher the chance problems would be found in their newborns. Weakness and sickness were minor problems, but some would have birth defects.
In the trade of breeding cats and dogs, the ones with only one birth would cost the most.
Just like human beings, cats and dogs also had infertility problems. It would be a greater risk to purchase breeding cats or dogs that had never giving birth before. It was like gambling. Giving birth just one time would prove "this one is fertile."
There was one serious problem: cats were different from dogs. Some cats did not have a mother’s instincts; they would ignore their newborns, and breastfeeding would be impossible.
The worst part was that some cats had the habit of eating their children. This kind of cat, no matter how beautiful or how purebred, would have difficulty being a breeding cat. It was better to be sterilized. If those cats were used as breeding cats, then they needed full time care and a lot of patience, and even that might not be successful in the end.
Defects in cats and dogs that had given birth only once could be easily detected. That period was also the most glorious in their life.
A cat could give birth to three to four babies per year, whereas a dog could giving birth to two babies a year. However, if they continued to breed without proper rest and rehabilitation, then it would cause a great harm to their bodies. Therefore, cats and dogs could normally only breed two babies per year.
For those breeding cats and dogs, after they’d given birth five or six times, it would be time for them to retire. If they were forced to have more babies, then the babies would usually be weak and get sick often. Of course, the unscrupulous businessmen wouldn’t think this way. To them, more was better. Lowering the breeding costs could potentially provide better pricing for their customers. They definitely would strive to squeeze the last drop of value out of the pets, until they could not give birth anymore, and then they would be abandoned.
This was the reason why Zhang Zian insisted on visiting the breeding ground.
In this realm of business, torturing animals should not be promoted or encouraged.