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Pet stores say: "Our puppies come from breeders, not puppy mills."

Understand that the word "breeder" is not an exclusive term. Anyone who puts two dogs together and produces puppies is, technically, a breeder. So don't assume that a puppy from a "breeder" did not come from a puppy mill. A responsible breeder would not sell puppies to a pet store; they would want to meet you in person.

Stop Puppy Mills

pet stores explained

Pet Store Double Speak

Pet stores say: "Our puppies come from breeders, not puppy mills."

Understand that the word "breeder" is not an exclusive term. Anyone who puts two dogs together and produces puppies is, technically, a breeder. So don't assume that a puppy from a "breeder" did not come from a puppy mill. A responsible breeder would not sell her puppies to a pet store; she would want to meet you in person.

They say: "All our puppies come from USDA-inspected facilities, so we know they are not from puppy mills."

Being USDA-inspected does not mean that the business is not a puppy mill, any more than having a driver's license guarantees that the holder is a good driver. It is extremely rare for the USDA to revoke a commercial breeder's license or even fine a puppy mill that has repeated violations. There are hundreds of USDA-licensed puppy mills in operation that have long lists of violations and problems associated with them.

They say: "We know our breeders are not puppy mills because we only deal with breeders we know."

If a pet store manager tells you this, ask to see documentation that shows exactly where their breeders are located. In most cases, you will find out that the breeders they "know" are in distant states. The store manager's definition of "knowing" a breeder often just means that he or she has been receiving shipments of puppies from the same place repeatedly. In most cases, the owner or manager has never visited the breeder's facility or inspected their records.

They say: "We don't sell puppies from local breeders because our state is not regulated, but (the state the puppies come from) is."

Commercial breeders in all states who sell wholesale to pet stores are required to be regulated by the USDA. Some states, such as Missouri and Pennsylvania, also require a state kennel license and state inspections. But this does not mean that puppies from Missouri or Pennsylvania are healthier. In fact, these states have two of the worst concentrations of puppy mills in the United States, with some of the worst conditions. This is due in part to the very small number of qualified inspectors, infrequent inspections, and the fact that even facilities that are found to be substandard during the inspections process are rarely penalized.

They say: "Our store's puppies are healthy—they come with a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian."

A health certificate only means that the puppy has had a very brief "wellness" examination by a veterinarian. This examination does not include testing the puppy or his or her parents for genetic disorders, or testing for diseases such as Giardia and Brucellosis, both of which are contagious to humans and are frequently seen in puppy mill puppies.

They say: "Our puppies come with a health guarantee."

Read "health guarantees" very carefully. They are often designed to protect the store's interests more than yours. They can be full of exclusions and loopholes, and often require you to return a sick puppy to the store in order to get a refund. Furthermore, the store management will often use the puppy's "health certificate" as "proof" that the animal was healthy when he or she left the store, leaving the buyer helpless if the puppy becomes sick just a few days after purchase.

They say: "Consumers know our puppies are from good breeders because they are registered and come with papers."

"Purebred" registration papers (from one of many "kennel clubs" or other dog registries) are only a record of a puppy's parents (and sometimes earlier generations). Puppy mills routinely sell puppies with papers from prestigious sounding "kennel clubs." Registration papers do nothing to ensure that an individual puppy (or his or her parents) is healthy or free of genetic defects, or that they were raised in a humane and sanitary environment.

They say: "We know this is a good breeder. We've never had a problem with any of their puppies."

Keep in mind that even facilities with mostly healthy puppies and problem-free inspection reports are keeping dozens or even hundreds of breeding dogs in cages for their entire lives. These parent dogs live behind bars from birth until death, without ever feeling grass under their feet, enjoying a treat or toy, or having loving human contact or proper veterinary care. They are bred repeatedly until they can no longer reproduce, and then they are discarded.

The real tragedy of puppy mills is that keeping breeding dogs in such a way is perfectly legal.Only the public can stop the cruel cycle of puppy mills, by refusing to buy the puppies that keep these kinds of breeders in business.

Information provided courtesy of the United States Humane Society

Stop Puppy Mills

Puppies of Westport is just one of thousands of pet stores in America that contribute to the cycle of puppy mills. Puppies of Westport sells dogs that come mostly from Missouri and surrounding states. The parents of the puppies spend their lives in cages until they can no longer be bred. Our group has paperwork confirming the rough and unsanitary conditions these dogs are kept in. The owners of Puppies of Westport claim the dogs they sell do not come from puppy mills. However, the paperwork that has been gathered shows the puppies come from large, commercial breeders that supply pet stores and puppy brokers across America. Pet stores are selling trendy, designer breed puppies that are taken from their mothers at an early age and loaded onto trucks to be distributed to stores. Puppies of Westport is an outlet for breeders who treat the dogs as a cash crop.