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April 15, 2010

Who Is Really Responsible For Puppy Mills?

I apologize in advance for the intensity of this rant...

As dog lovers, we must all, surely, feel a massive twang of pity and regret when we think of those puppies who have been bred for profit by breeders who are interested only in how to produce maximum volume of ’stock’ with scant regard for the welfare, health or temperament of the animals they churn out month by month, year by year.

Puppy mills and backyard breeders are alive kicking. But how? Buy why?

Pet stores, the internet and the people who buy from them!

Puppy farmers aren't the ONLY ones to blame for misery. The people who willingly dig in to their pockets and get their wallets out to hand over cash to the cynical puppies-for-profit breeders. Puppy mills and the pet stores that buy from them couldn’t care less about the fundamental principles of breeding good, healthy, and well balanced dogs.

The puppy farmer only exists because people keep giving them money. In all the coverage given to the puppy farming debate, have we missed the most obvious of points! If people simply stopped fuelling this trade, we might actually get somewhere. We can’t legitimately call ourselves a nation of animal lovers while we allow this to happen.

But the fact is, these puppy mills would be a thing of the past if:
1) People refused to buy puppies from pet stores

2) People refused to buy the puppies they see advertised in the free classified ads, newspapers or websites (this mean you Kijiji and Craig's List).

3) People took the time to educate themselves on the responsible way of obtaining a new pet from rescue societies and reputable breeders.

Seriously, if those three things happened – the puppy farmer is left with no business. No trade. No customers. No money. No motivation to keep producing puppies.

So why do people do it? Some of them are misguided, misinformed. OK, I accept that. But even so, in this year, in this day in age with ALL of the wealth of information that exists about how to obtain a dog responsibly, is it REALLY a valid excuse anymore? And for everyone who accidentally, unintentionally winds up putting money in to the pocket of puppy farmers, there’s certainly more folk who do it and who couldn’t really care less either way.

It is an ongoing disgrace that puppy mills are allowed to thrive and prosper in a country where laws, legislation and enforcement of such establishments have never really been properly crafted to a point where they have been forced out of business, whilst the demand exists – the puppy farmer will thrive. If puppy farming is to be defeated, the first point of action needs to be in changing the attitude and behaviour of the people who are buying their puppies pet stores and off the internet.

How can we change this? How do we push for a culture change? It’s going to be hard and I feel it’s going to take something big. Before considering buying a puppy from anywhere but a rescue foundation or a reputable breeder, just remember these things:
  • just because a litter of puppies is advertised in a ‘legitimate’ publication, it doesn’t mean the puppy has been bred responsibly

  • just because a litter of puppies is for sale in a pet shop with a licence, it doesn’t mean the puppy has been bred responsibly

  • just because a litter of puppies has been bred by a ‘licenced breeder’ it doesn’t mean the puppy has been bred responsibly
If we really want to tackle the blight of puppy farming, puppies produced in dank, squalid conditions with profit as the only motive, then we – all of us honest, caring dog owners – need to speak up, speak out and repeat the following mantra:

“If you buy from a pet store, you’re as guilty as the puppy mill. If you don’t have the knowledge to avoid a puppy farmed dog, then you’re not yet ready to own a dog.”


  1. Respectfully, generalizing all pet stores as proponents of the existence of puppy mills is irresponsible and simply untrue. There are retailers, such as ourselves, that in no way support puppy mills. Our breeders follow the strictest of guidelines with regards to their kennel and breeding practises. We believe it is the responsibility of all potential owners to research the source. If fact we highly encourage people to look at all available sources including shelters, rescue groups and outside breeders. As all responsible and trusted pet professionals do, we provide all of the breeder background information and veterinarian care documentation to all our new puppy owners. We encourage everyone to visit the PuppiesFIRST section on to get to know more about how pet retailers can and do sell well bred, well socialized pets. Just food for thought.

  2. It is indeed food for thought...all I can think about is all the "pups" that are at the SPCA and what does happen if they do not find dog is untrainable or adopted Skipper was and is a great example of this.

  3. Thank you both for your comments.

    Brad, Stacey: Thank you for the link to your website. I checked it out and am very happy to see that there is a truly caring "pet selling" store out there. I am based in Calgary and have never seen or heard of PJ's Pets. I see in Alberta you only have stores in Edmonton, which could be why I've never heard of you folks. Again forgive my rant as it was sparked by another sad story I was exposed to. I hear the horrors daily from my friends at the Calgary Humane Society. The implusive purchases of puppies from pet stores like Petland and Petcetera are a huge contributor to the animals our humane society receives daily.

    I apologize for painting you with this same brush. I will be sure to share your link and story with my followers.

  4. I believe the better choice is still to buy from an animal rescue or spca. We puts thousands of animals to sleep every week. Every age from puppies/kittens to seniors and everything in between. All types of animals...every breed...every type of purebred and every mix imaginable. There is no end to the variety sitting in shelters and foster homes waiting for their forever home....IF they are not put to sleep first. There is no justifiable reason not to adopt a homeless pet that i have been able to find.

    I think if you can watch the following video and still buy from a breeder(even a responsible one) or a pet store(even a responsible one) then there's not really much else for me to say. Thx :)

  5. Hi Kelly,

    Very powerful video. It is extremely sad to know that this goes on every day all around the world.

    I agree, no matter how responsible the pet stores or the breeders, rescuing is really the only alternative way people should be obtaining their new pets.

    Thank you for sharing!