Puppies in the pet store look happy and healthy. They look well fed and have toys to play with. The pet store is teaming with customers that are playing with them and the employees seem to be kind, and loving towards them. What’s so wrong with buying one? They are so cute and hard to resist.

Have you ever wondered where pet stores get their puppies?

Ask a pet store where they get their puppies and they will assure that they get all their puppies from wonderful, responsible local breeders. Or you may see signs that say “We buy only from USDA-licensed breeders.”

puppy mill puppies at a pet store
Cages clean, check, they look healthy and happy, check. What’s wrong with this picture?

These puppies come from a puppy mill, period! What difference does it make if the puppy mill is local or far away? According to “The Puppy Mill Project” there are estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States. Chances are there is a “local” one near you.

Aren’t All Breeders Required to Be Inspected?

USDA stands for United States Department of Agriculture. Their business is farming and livestock. To the USDA these puppies are “livestock”. As long as the breeder’s license is in order and the cages are clean and no immediate diseases are obvious their kennel

“USDA standards under the Animal Welfare Act are bare minimum survival standards, not optimal standards of care.”˜Pet Store Doublespeak

The USDA does not care

  • Whether the breeder knows anything about his breed
  • Whether the dogs used for breeding look like their breed
  • Whether the dogs used for breeding act like their breed
  • Whether the dogs used for breeding are free of genetic health problems most of which show up long after you buy the puppy.

What about pet stores that say their puppies are AKC inspected?

Does the AKC inspect the breeders?

The AKC does not inspect kennels, nor does it vouch for the health or well-being of a puppy.

Are AKC – registered dogs guaranteed?

No. AKC registered simply means the puppy had two parents of the same breed. The AKC registers dogs and gives them ‘papers which help to sell them in pet shops or at breeders’ kennels.

Does the AKC make money from a puppy mill?

Yes, lots. Puppy mills comprise 80% of the AKC’s business. It registered 917,247 puppies in 2003 at the cost of approximately $25.00 per puppy. You can read more about pet stores and AKC; USDA HERE:

The bottom line is responsible breeders care about all of those things and would NEVER sell puppies to a pet store!

What happens to the puppies that aren’t sold?

Pet shops are a business and as such their puppies are inventory. Just like other retail stores if their inventory doesn’t sell, it goes on sale. They will continue to cut prices as the puppy gets older and larger. Finally, if the puppy still doesn’t sell they cut their losses and give the puppies to employees or rescue groups.

Yes, I know those puppies are so cute! So what’s the harm in cutting out the necessity of them giving it to a rescue organization and “rescuing” a puppy yourself by buying it in a pet store?

The harm is that you are continuing and perpetuating the puppy mill industry. As long as pet stores have a demand for puppies to sell, the puppy mills will keep selling them. No Demand = No Profit for a Puppy Mill.

puppy mill, chihuahua in a cage or behind a chain-link fence
Did you know? Chihuahuas are the second most euthanized breed in the US? 2nd only to Pit Bulls

My suggestion? If you just can’t stand to see those poor puppies in cages and you just want to adopt them all, take a “Do Not Enter” approach!

We can’t rescue every puppy that needs to be rescued, but we can stop the cycle of puppies needing to be rescued by not supporting any puppy mill and buying a puppy from a pet store.

Puppy Mill vs Responsible Breeder

A Puppy Mill is not the same as a responsible breeder and there are lots of good, caring, and responsible breeders. We all want all Chihuahuas in the shelters to be rescues, so should you judge someone that decides to get their Chihuahua from a breeder?

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