Puppy Mills, Pet Shops & Why You Should Avoid Them 

Courtesy of The Citizens Against Puppy Mills 

A puppy mill is generally considered to be a large-scale dog breeding operation that wholesales dogs to retail establishments, or to brokers who then sell to retail establishments across the country. Mills house a large number of breeding dogs, sometimes numbering well into the hundreds. The only job of these animals is to produce puppies. The puppies are shipped to pet stores in cramped, crowded semi-trailers such as the Hunte Corporation. They are separated from their mother at a very young age, often before they are 8 weeks old. Many times puppies become sick or injured during the trek to their destination or even die. Thus, the reason so many of the puppies end up sickly and mentally disturbed, is because the breeding stock is not screened for health or genetic issues. The ones who are lucky enough to survive the ordeal end up at the pet shops. With so many dogs available for adoption from animal shelters and rescue groups as well as from compassionate, humane breeders, there is simply no reason to inhumanely ship puppy mill bred dogs around the country to stock pet stores. 

Where do the puppy mill pups end up?

Puppy mill pups ultimately end up in pet shops. Pet shops claim that their dogs come from breeders, that their animals are purchased from USDA licensed producers, and that the dogs are AKC registered. The effectiveness of these claims depends largely upon the naivete' of the general public. Ask if the animals come from mills, and you will get an emphatic, "No!". But this of course is not true. The employees of these stores are coached on what to say to customers, and many times are not even aware of the truth behind the puppies they sell. 

Let's examine the claims pet shops make: 

1) The "breeders" are actually millers and other large-scale dog producers whose main concerns are merely to pump out as many dogs of different breeds in as short a period of time as possible.  The dog producers that DO meet the pet shop's stock demands are the millers who pump out hundreds of puppies of many different breeds annually. The pet shop is also able to enjoy the convenience of purchasing all their animals from one source. 

2) USDA licensing does not guarantee humane treatment of the dogs in mills. In fact, the one and only reason a breeder would need a USDA License is because it's a puppy mill. Also, remember that the USDA licenses and oversees factory farming. What the USDA considers acceptable in factory farms outrage and horrify many people who are made aware of what exactly goes on behind the closed doors of the industry. The animals in these situations are treated as product, and are not given the consideration they deserve. Humane treatment and quality of life are not factors deemed worthy of attention. The situation at puppy mills is very similar. The dogs are merely treated as cash crops and money-making machines. 

3) The sales pitch, "AKC registered" has been used repeatedly by the puppy mill/pet shop industry and has duped the public into believing that if a dog bares the AKC registered title, it must be of quality. The fact of the matter is that the American Kennel Club (AKC) is merely a registering body. "Papers" on a dog mean that the animal is certifiably purebred. It does not guarantee anything else. There are no requirements necessary in order for a dog to be registered other than having AKC-registered parents. Health, temperament, or where a dog came from, have no bearing on the matter. 

Still don't believe that the dogs from pet shops come from mills? Press the issue with a pet shop manager or owner. Find out the name of the wholesaler that the shop obtains its puppies from. Check the information obtained by going to the USDA site, and see if you can match the name the pet shop gave you with one of the licensed dealers listed on the USDA site. If the name is missing, it probably means that the puppies were purchased from a non-licensed mill, or directly from a broker who acts as a middleman. 

If you inquire about the supplier of the puppies in shops, you will hear a lot of double-talk, repeated phrases such as, "No, all our dogs come from professional breeders." (which, if you think about it, isn't actually a lie--a breeder is merely someone who produces animals), and "Our puppies are guaranteed!". Ask what sort of genetic testing has been done on the parents to help ensure that the puppies will grow into healthy adults. What you'll hear is, "All of our puppies have been vet-checked." No proof of genetic health of parents will be offered, no assurances that the puppies are from healthy stock. "Vet-checked" means nothing more than that the animal showed no overt signs of illness at the time of examination. 

Support pet shops that do not sell dogs and send a message to the puppy mill-supporting pet shops--you will NOT patronize any shop that encourages the inhumane practice of puppy milling or indiscriminant breeding and selling of dogs.