Consumers Buying Sick and Dying Animals from Pet Stores

Most people don't want puppy mill puppies. Most people want a healthy puppy. However, according to a new study done by The Humane Society of the United States, consumers who purchase puppies from a pet store will often end up with a sick or dying dog who originated from a puppy mill.

According to Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for companion animals for The HSUS, "We analyzed the data using two consumer channels. The first was to track phone calls and emails over a four-month period that The HSUS received from distraught people who purchased a dog at a pet store only to find that within days, their new puppy was very ill – if not dying. The second source for our analysis came from a campaign we launched during the same period called 'The Pet Store Challenge' when we invited the public to download a web-based questionnaire and take it to their local pet store to ask questions about where the shop owner was getting their puppies from."

Phone calls:

Out of 117 phone calls and emails from consumers, many of whom had purchased a new puppy from a pet store, 63 puppies had an illness ( i.e. parvovirus, giardia); 25 had a congenital defect (i.e., severe hip dysplasia or a neurological disorder); 5 had severe temperament issues; and 23 puppies died within weeks of bringing them home from the store.

Pet Store Challenge:

The Pet Store Challenge results cover 27 pet stores in 15 states. Of those, 21 pet stores either refused to take the challenge or would not show any documentation regarding the origination of their puppies. The other 6 stores showed minimal paperwork or stated that they get their puppies from "breeders", but did not specify if those were commercial breeding operations, commonly known as puppy mills. Of those 6, 1 store clerk admitted that the store did get its puppies from a mill.

Of the stores who claimed that their puppies come from "breeders" but refused to show paperwork, Shain says "It confirms that pet stores often have something to hide."

The HSUS study concludes that most puppies in stores had been shipped in from distant states, states that are well-known for having large numbers of mass commercial breeders (puppy mills), such as Missouri. "Being shipped across the country is stressful for young puppies separated from their mothers too soon who should be receiving care instead of spending days packed in a trailer or stuck in the belly of a plane. The stress can bring on underlying diseases, only adding to the illnesses they most likely already contracted living in horrendous conditions at a puppy mill," Shain explains.

"When you buy an item at any 'retail' outlet in this country, there is a tag indicating where it was made or where it came from. People should have the same right to know where their puppies are coming from. The smartest thing that consumers can do is to STOP buying dogs from pet stores and over the internet. Period. Visit a shelter – where one in four dogs is a purebred or work with a breed rescue group. Or, if your heart is absolutely set on buying a dog, find a reputable breeder."

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than 9.5 million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammals, animals in research, equine protection, and farm animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy and field work. The nonprofit organization is based in Washington and has field representatives and offices across the country. On the web at .