Tracking Breeders of Pet Store Puppies

The ASPCA recently launched a new consumer tool as part of their No Pet Store Puppies Campaign, and I encourage you to check it out. This tool contains a searchable database linking pet stores that sell puppies to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed commercial breeding facilities (puppy mills). By entering a pet store name and zip code you can learn which puppy mills produce their “merchandise”. Plug in the breeder name and/or USDA license number and learn which pet stores they do business with. Lastly, enter a particular breed and learn which licensed facilities are producing them.

This new database contains more than ten thousand photos of commercial breeding facilities collected during the course of USDA inspections. These photos are not for the faint of heart. I suspect they will tug at your heart as they did mine. The purpose of these photos is to provide a reality check for those consumers who intrinsically believe that any commercial dog breeder licensed by the USDA must be providing humane treatment for their dogs.

Please share this new tool with anyone you know who is contemplating a puppy purchase from a pet store. I hope you will also share it with friends and family members who buy their pet supplies from stores that sell puppies. While you’re at it, please take the official ASPCA puppy mill pledge to stop buying anything from stores that sell puppies. Together we can make a difference.

Please share this blog post with at least one other person and you will put a big smile on my face! Thank you.

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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23 Comments on “Tracking Breeders of Pet Store Puppies

  1. Thanks for your comments Judi. I think that most people selling pups offer a return guarantee. The problem is that, in spite of the medical and psychological problems that are part and parcel with mill reared pups, most people fall in love with them and could not bear the thought of returning them to such an horrific environment. So, I like your suggestion in theory, but in all practicality I don’t think it would achieve the desired purpose.

  2. Everyone really pushes not buying from pet stores which get their puppies (a vast majority of the time) from puppy mills.

    I really wonder about taking a different approach. How about making a law that states that ANYONE selling a puppy MUST take it back if the person that purchased it no longer wants it – no matter what the reason they are returning it. Also include in that law that these places can not euthanize for space – they can only euthanize for severe behavioral or deadly disease (i.e. not a broken leg). If these places HAD to deal with the returns and the medical and behavioral problems, they wouldn’t make the profit they do now and would potentially stop (or at least slow down) the mass production of these animals.

    Hit them where it hurts – the pocket book.


  3. Kudos to the ASPCA for creating this cross-referencing tool. Unfortunately, it’s of no use to us here in the south. The closest pet store that I know sells puppies is Petland of Plano, TX, but it wasn’t listed. They had the Dallas and some other locations listed, but not Plano. There were none that I could find in any other southern state. Surely there are pet stores that sells puppies in the south?? Maybe the database is still a work in progress…??

  4. I also totally agree with Kate F above about internet sales by puppy producers using clever names, and other forms of irresponsible breeding. And how do you convince anyone with existing dogs that they love that their “breeder” was less than responsible? and that they should look more closely next time? the more “we” patronize these people the harder it is to close them down or make them change their ways!

  5. I also totally agree with Kate F above about internet sales by producers using clever names, and other forms of irresponsible breeding. And how do you convince anyone with existing dogs that they love that their “breeder” was less than responsible? and that they should look more closely next time? the more “we” patronize these people the harder it is to close them down or make them change their ways!

  6. Thanks for responding to my blog post Laurie. In no way am I saying that all USDA licensed facilities are puppy mills. And, I’ll bet you I could find a handful of pet stores that do not stock their cages with puppies from puppy mills. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of pet stores to patronize puppy mills and USDA licensure does not insure humane conditions at such facilities. It is also a fact that many people purchasing puppies are naive about this information. I feel that it is imperative to educate them. I agree with your last statement- “Perhaps public education is a much more effective way to go….”. By the way, I did not support the PUPS bill- your recollection is incorrect.

  7. I’m a little bit confused. Are you stating that ALL USDA licensed breeders are puppy mills? That is how you worded your blog. Did you perhaps mean that ALL breeders that sell to pet stores are puppy mills, or that ALL commercial breeders are puppy mills? Or just that ALL breeders are puppy mills? What is your definition of puppy mill? Only the Animal Rights crowd considers all breeders as puppy mills, and want to end the ‘exploitation’ of animals as pets. Is it your contention that there is no USDA licensed kennel which has adequate space, exercise, genetic testing, and socializing programs? Are you basing this on first hand knowledge, or just what you’ve repeatedly heard from ASPCA and HSUS, which have been vocal and active in trying to stop all dog breeding, one little step at a time.
    As I recall, you also urged support for the PUPS bill, which would require that anyone with more than 3 dogs to become USDA licensed, and would REQUIRE that dogs be kept in facilities like those pictured, rather than in the home as most hobby breeders do. Would that make anyone with more than 3 dogs a puppy mill, even if they had never bred a litter?
    While I am absolutely against selling puppies in pet stores, I think perhaps public education is a much more effective way to go….

  8. Thank you, Dr Fulkerson. You have made an excellent point! While going after pet stores is a start, there needs to be an effort to crackdown on Internet sales. We do not have many pet stores in the SAn Francisco Bay Area, but I know people buy pets online. Ugh. The national animal welfare organizations have so much money. I hope they put it to good use and stop these practices as well. I think they should also focus on education.

  9. I had a couple of boo-boos in this blog post. Thanks for catching this one, and I definitely was not an English major!

  10. The database is a good idea!

    But there’s one confusing sentence, which says in part: “. . . pet stores that sell puppies to. . . commercial breeding facilities. . .” On reading further, it is more clear that the intent is the linking of the stores with the commercial breeding facilities from which the puppies come, not the selling of puppies to those facilities. But it could be read either way.

    Yes, I was an English major! 😉

  11. Great! The more who have a better understanding of where pet store puppies come from, the better.

  12. Thank you for publishing this information. Even though there has been so much publicity about the “puppy mills” etc., there are still an incredible number of people who remain uninformed. Each step forward is a plus, even though many more steps remain. I will definitely share these links and info in every way I can.

  13. Forego buying a living being at all from ANYONE who profits. Adopt.

  14. Sorry, I can’t even accept the term “wholesale breeder.” I would not call someone whose factory mass produces reproductions of famous art work an “artist.” Therefore I do not call someone who mass produces puppies without regard to their health, temperament or quality a “breeder.” A puppy is even more precious and important than a work of art.

  15. Hi Dr. Kate. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments.

  16. Although I support the efforts to track breeders of pet store puppies, most of the problematic puppy “producers” (I do not dignify these people with the term “breeders”) in our area sell on the Internet with factory names like “Puppy Love Kennels.” These factories have what the public wants when the public wants it. They are not breeders.

    We must educate the public about their Internet buying habits. Public expectations need to change in order to put scurrilous puppy factories out of business. Puppy factories don’t force people to buy or even go door to door with cute puppies. Puppy factories flourish on the Internet because people want what they want when they want it. Until that changes, someone will always be available to sell the public what they want (or think they want).

  17. Thanks again for publishing some great information Nancy. The only way we can stop these horrendous puppy mills from continuing to do business is through education of the public. Kudos to you.

  18. You are most welcome Jolanta and thank you for responding to my blog post.

  19. Thank you so much for posting this. I will share it with my followers on my podcast’s Facebook page and ask them to spread the word. It’s amazing how many people fall for the pet store salespeople’s line that “our puppies come from breeders” — well, yeah! They do! Wholesale breeders!