About Adopting

The Truth About Puppy Mills & Pet Stores

It’s hard to imagine, when you see an adorable, healthy-looking puppy peering back at you through the glass of your local pet store, where that four-legged furball came from. The truth is, almost all puppies sold in retail pet stores around the country are the product of puppy mills.

Puppy mills are essentially a factory for pumping out the most amount of puppies, in the shortest amount of time, with minimal expense. Meaning, the breeders that run these puppy mills have their females in a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth. The dogs are given no medical care. Living conditions are deplorable. These dogs are usually found crammed into tiny cages with other dogs, standing and sleeping in feces and urine, their hair matted, skin painfully itchy from fleas or ticks, starving and malnourished. Many dogs are suffering from respiratory infections, blindness, joint issues, even life-threatening illnesses that are passed on to their puppies. Sometimes, these poor dogs are left for weeks in cages with fellow dogs that have died.

But the puppy mill’s only concern is profit. They don’t care for the health of their breeding stock. They don’t care for the health of the puppies that are produced. They don’t care where their puppies end up – as long as they make a profit.

Puppy mills sell their puppies to a broker. The broker then sells the puppies to pet stores, internet retailers, or in newspaper classified ads. There are over 5,000 of these puppy mills – fully licensed to operate – around the country. Countless more that are operating illegally.

The ONLY way to eliminate puppy mills is to stop buying puppies from pet stores, online retailers, or through newspaper classifieds. Adopting a puppy from your local animal rescue organization or purchasing from a reputable, responsible breeder are the only appropriate options.

When you purchase a puppy from a pet store, you are supporting puppy mills.

In the video below, Best Friends Animal Society gives a crash course on puppy mills and how the puppies they produce end up in pet stores around the country.




  1. Crickett Donovan

    Feb 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Help us fight puppy mills in Iowa. The State legislators have classified them as livestock and by law you cannot take pictures of the animals or their conditions. We have no enforcement of cruelty laws or abuse laws.. they are misdemeanors when they should be felonies. There is no state inspections of kennels, only USDA.

    • heather smith

      May 31, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      you are right these poor puppies are being abused to much.

  2. Bectinced

    Dec 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    my best friend’s ex-wife makes $82 an hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for ten months but last month her income was $19744 just working on the computer for a few hours. see page—–

  3. Debbie Lovas

    Dec 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I have never bought a pet from a pet store. I have always adopted or rescued. Kirby is my latest adopted/rescued pet.

  4. Monika

    Dec 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    That’s so sad that puppies are just there for profit and that the mills have no regard for the health and treatment of the puppies or the mothers. It’s so hard to imagine people being so cruel and profit driven as to neglect the health of any living being. At the same time, completely boycotting getting puppies from stores makes me wonder what would happen to the puppies if they are not bought, and I also think that there will always be people who would rather buy a “new” puppy from the store rather than saving one from a shelter, as sad as that is. Let’s hope one day stronger rules are made to keep those puppies being born safe and healthy, and hope that there is a greater amount of adopters out there!

  5. jennett

    Dec 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    It is sad that there are so many people that don’t realize that, that cute puppy in the window came from a sad, sick, never been loved, tired mother behind bars! Both of my boys were adopted and I have taken in a few stray kittens. I will never buy a pet from a store not even a hamster….. ADOPT DON’T SHOP AND NEVER GIVE A PET AS A GIFE! :-)♡♥

  6. Julie

    Dec 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

    In our city there is a man with a beautiful website advertising home raised designer breed puppies. He lives in a beautiful neighborhood and lives in an expensive home.He gets the pups from a puppy mill and resells them to to the locals, splitting the profits with the mill owners. He only incriminated himself when he bragged to coworkers how it payed for his yearly vacations. Please be VERY careful if you ever purchase a dog.

  7. elaine

    Nov 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I bought a pup with giarda, severe skin allergies to this day, a bad underbite and he has issues too. he is a good little guy and smart but very expensive to take care of. I would never go to this grooming/pet store again. every day there seems to be a different problem with him and this is going on 7 yrs.
    love conquers all the problems tho. beware when purchasing
    the cute wears off quickly, I know.

  8. Eelog

    Jun 24, 2013 at 5:49 am

    there should be regular inspections by the government on these supposed licensed puppy mills; if they don’t meet standards, owners should be given stiff penalties and their business closed PERMANENTLY!

    • tracy

      Dec 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      the problem is that animals are still considered property in the eyes of the law & the conditions allowed are bare minimum…. shelter & food!
      we need to have stiffer laws all the way around

  9. Megan

    Apr 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t understand why they just don’t make it illegal to sell puppies in pet stores. And all breeders should have to be licensed, accredited, and subject to random inspections. Then puppy mills wouldn’t be an issue anymore.

  10. Connie Donne'

    Jan 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    The mills need to be shut down yes but I fear for these puppies in the pet stores. If no one buys them or we don’t have a solution for these pups once the pet store is shut down, then I fear for them. They need homes regardless. I don’t really know the solution to solve this problem, I’m just saying please don’t let these little darlings linger because the pet stores are being boycotted.

    • eva weiss

      Jan 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      If you stop buying them, they stop making them. Supply and demand.

  11. Jane Russell Songer

    Jan 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Yeah, I once took my granddaughter to a pet store, just so she could see the puppies (I had gotten something there that I was returning, & had seen all the adorable puppies they had.) (At least, my granddaughter is 22, so not like a little girl ” so she said “oh, they’re so cute; I want one!”) She asked how much they cost, & I nearly fell on the floor with shock, when they said $1,000! And then “but you can make payments!” So after we left, I told her all about puppy mills & how sad it really was for those little puppies. They had a BUNCH of YOUNG pups; how many do you think they could POSSIBLY sell for $1,000 in THIS ECONOMY, ESPECIALLY!? So THEN what happens to them?

  12. Dawn Blocker

    Jan 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    There is nothing wrong with somebody wanting a purebred dog. Purebreds have more reliable traits in both personality and appearance. It has become harder and harder to find purebreds and frankly, many or the rescue groups are all about profit too. Buy from reputable breeders, go and see the facilities. Talk to their vets. Investigate.

    • Terri

      Mar 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Having a purebred doesn’t guarantee reliable traits. There are frequently problems caused by too much inbreeding.

    • Megan

      Apr 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      This isn’t completely true. All of the inbreeding or “line” breeding behind purebred dogs is leading to a breakdown in healthy genes. Most breeds of dog (purebreds) have genetic issues inherent to the breed, and all the inbreeding is resulting in animals with more unpredictable/destructive behaviors.
      Also, most rescue groups are not “all about profit”. They are non-profit organizations who use the fees that adopters pay to help other dogs with medical bills, training, transportation, etc, in an effort to help find them homes.

    • Tammy Fillion

      Nov 5, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Well put and to the point !!

    • Shae

      Nov 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      Are you serious??? Rescues are by definition non-profits. Most of them are 501c3 non-profit organizations funded mostly by donations, grants and the adoption fees.
      Usually an adoption fee is around $100-$150, but it depends on the rescue. Many dogs require surgeries or obedience training in addition to vaccinations, spay/neuters, microchips and grooming. All the things the previous owner neglected. They sell these dogs AT A LOSS because this adds up to much more than the adoption fee. All the smaller rescues have NO PAID STAFF, we are all volunteers. How are they “all about profit”???

    • Susan

      Dec 29, 2013 at 11:12 am

      I am a foster home mom for rescued puppies. I foster for several different rescues and they are all “non-profit” organizations. All costs associated with the care of an animal from the time it is rescued until it is adopted is covered by the fees charged for the dogs. The amount charged in some cases doesn’t even come close to covering those fees. For example, a litter of puppies comes down with Parvovirus. The cost associated with treating just one of those puppies back to health is approximately $1500-2000 depending on how long it takes for the puppy to be healthy. If the puppy should die, the vet still needs to be paid. Rescues in Canada receive absolutely no government funding.
      All of the rescues organizations I’ve been involved with are all about saving the animals and giving them a better life. They all struggle with financial issues, mainly the lack of finances.
      Also, you cannot guarantee the personality of an animal. There are a lot of variables. The same with size. Yes, you have a better chance at getting what you’re looking for, but it all goes back to the integrity of the breeder. Some purebred breeders are no better then puppy mills. They don’t care about genetic health issues. They only care about the money. I have a “purebred” dog, a puppy mill dog, and a rescued dog. Which one is better? I love them all the same.

    • eva weiss

      Jan 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Not necessarily. A lot of purebreds have genetic problems. I would like one person to show me how rescues make money. Not a reputable rescue anyway.

    • Jeff

      Mar 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Dawn is absolutely correct. Purebreds, when bred correctly, do have more reliable traits, because you can breed out the undesireable traits. I’m sure that is why she said to buy from a REPUTABLE breeder. They don’t inbreed their dogs, which causes many of the health problems you see in purebreds.

      And just because they are mixed-breed doesn’t mean then can’t have the same health issues as the purebreds. If a Golden Retriever that comes with a history of bad hips breeds with a German Shepherd Dog that comes with a history of bad hips, guess what?

      Rescuing dogs is great, but in most cases you have no idea of the breed(s) (unless you do a DNA), bite history, or socialization history (so very important).

      Rescue dogs can be great (I have 2 of them), but you can’t just rescue a dog for the sake of rescuing him. They have to be a good fit. Too many people buy or adopt a dog because of how it looks, or some other emotional attraction to it. Too many of these dogs are under-socialized, which causes most of the problems (other than health) that I, as a dog trainer, see day in and day out.

      And that all comes back to puppy mills, unethical breeders, and reputable breeders. The good breeder will socialize their puppies and won’t part with them until the are at least 10 weeks old. The puppy mills and unethical breeders don’t have a clue or don’t care about socialization and only want to get those pups out the door so they can start a new litter.

  13. Shoortdogg69

    Jul 18, 2012 at 4:14 am

    I know, my sister bought her dog at a pet Store!! I tried to talk her into goin to the shelter and adopting a puppy instead, shelters have lots of animals that need homes, a chance. At a real home!! she paid almos $1000 for her dog that was supposedly pure bread with papers!! NOT!! I told her puppy mills have alot to do with dogs in pet stores. Thing is, if u adopt an animal, u have to qualify, the shelter has to see that u will be good for the animal, and pet stores don’t care, as long as u have $$ they can give a rats ass who buys their animals!!

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