This debate will probably never die down...should stores be allowed to sell big pets such as dogs and cats. Understandably, a lot of the stores get their dogs from puppy mills, and I understand that side of the debate. Still, there are countless dogs sold by pet stores every year.
Purchasing from a pet store is like any other major purchase...you need to do your homework. Doing this, however, meant that you have to put your spur of the moment emotions aside every time you see a dog that you just "have to have."
We purchased our first puppy from a store, but only after doing considerable research, asking the store for references of others who have purchased from there, and asking around to other pet owners for their feedback.
We also took several visits to the store to see their puppies. The dogs at the store where we purchased from were always alert and awake. They were playful and, well, puppy like. The puppies also played in pens together, rather then being individually crated. The pens were very clean, as were the dogs. The puppies were well documented, with information from the breeder should we wish to contact them to find more info about the parents of the dogs.
I've visited other stores and didn't get the same feeling. In fact, going to some of the local malls, it seemed as though some of their dogs were drugged...they were very sluggish and did not act like you'd expect a dog to act when seeing new faces. The mall dogs were dirty, the place smelled, and some dogs were in crates way too small.
This is the problem with pet stores, there are too many who don't care about their animals, and are just looking for the profit. The one diamond in the rough that does show they care about the animals get lumped in together and get a bad rep. That is why we made sure to do our research. The last thing we wanted was a dog with health problems and social issues from not being treated properly and not being with other dogs.
We got our second dog from someone who needed to get rid of him because he wasn't compatible with other pets. Both dogs have their own attributes and issues, but the dog we "adopted" actually has had some more problems then the one we purchased, since the adopted dog was a bit older and had been neglected and mistreated.
Like anything else in life, it's always better to do your homework before making a major purchase.