Holiday Shopping for Your Pets: The Importance of Boycotting Stores That Sell Puppies

True confession………  I happen to detest holiday shopping unless, that is, I’m shopping for my four-legged family members! If you will be holiday shopping for your own pets, I have a special favor to ask of you. My request is that you purposefully avoid spending even a single penny at pet stores that sell puppies. I want the proprietors of these businesses to take a financial hit, so much so that they are forced to either close their doors or quit selling puppies (I would be content with either outcome).

Why do I feel as I do? If you are new to my blog you may not know that most if not all of those adorable little puppy faces found in pet store cages originate from puppy mills–  commercial breeding operations where dogs are housed in deplorable conditions. The breeding dogs typically serve life sentences with no chance at parole. Their puppies are fraught with behavior and training issues,  thereby increasing the likelihood they will be relinquished to a shelter or rescue organization or, worse yet, euthanized. A recently released ASPCA video does a wonderfully creative job describing the relationship between pet stores and puppy mills.

Boycotting pet stores that sell puppies is a simple step each and every one of us can take that will bring us closer to the eradication of puppy mills. Are you willing to join me in this effort? If so, please take the “No Pet Store Puppies Pledge” and urge your friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers to do the same. Give me a shout out/leave a comment once you’ve taken the pledge and your name will be entered into a drawing for a fabulous ASPCA gift basket filled with goodies for you (can you say, “Walker’s Shortbread Cookies”?) and some special treats for your pets.

Thank you for your help. Together we can make a difference in the fight against puppy mills. Happy holiday shopping!

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
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

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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47 Comments on “Holiday Shopping for Your Pets: The Importance of Boycotting Stores That Sell Puppies

  1. I signed the pledge today, December 15, 2013. I have been fostering and and adopting dogs since 2005. I am constantly promoting the idea of adopting dogs as well as fostering, and also never miss an opportunity to speak as a responsible pet owner to others about spaying and neutering their pets. My wife and I have volunteered with a local Boxer Rescue Organization.

  2. I took the pledge. I have my foster dog sitting right next to me. Adopt … Don’t Shop !

  3. I signed the pledge this afternoon. I will never, ever, ever purchase anything from a puppy mill store, ever!

  4. I will never shop in a pet shop that sells puppies! After months of daily protests outside the storefront, the pet store in our town that sold puppies went out of business. Yay!

  5. I took the pledge. I won’t even enter a store that sells puppies.

  6. I took the pledge! The dog advocates in Sarasota County, FL have been fighting to get an ordinance passed to ban the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits in our community. We just faced off with the 4 pet stores in our area at our Sarasota County Commissioner’s meeting this week to get them to allow us to advertise the proposed ban. The public needs to be educated! The pet stores actually bussed down their employees to speak. The commissioners agreed to do more research and revisit the issue in 60 days. Our side has nothing to gain financially from this ordinance and we don’t have lawyers like the pet stores….we need help!

  7. i have 5 furfriends at home 1 adult beagle, a 2 yr old female dachsund and her 2 four month old pups and an 11 months old japanese spitz – dachsund mix breed. they’re my true friends and companions at home. they’re all my great buddies!…just sign my pledge – i wont shop at pet shops that sell puppies!

  8. i have 5 furfriends at home 1 adult beagle, a 2 yr old female dachsund and her 2 four month old pups and an 11 months old japanese spitz – dachsund mix breed. they’re my true friends and companions at home.


  10. We have a pet store here and they have dogs and cats, brought in from Animal Control. These are animals that have been turned into the shelter. They re-home them for a small fee. The new owners are investigated to make sure that the animal is going to a good home. I get so broken heart when I go into the Animal shelter, I want to take them all home. I have adopted several dogs, over the years, and they have all been excellent pets, and they were not purebreds. I will never buy a pet from a store that sells dogs from puppy mills.

  11. I took the pledge for a number of reasons. My last dog was a street/shelter dog and he made quite the impression on the then-15 year old me. I loved that dog, and to this day find it difficult to talk about how his end came about… anyway.. Also, puppy mills are horrible, despicable things which should be eliminated… I’ve seen some of the long-term effects of the conditions those pups are forced to endure… makes me alternately weep and want to make those people deal with the same conditions, or worse!! Some of the behavioral problems can be minimized through thorough behavioral training, but many are outright dangerous to the humans around them… skittish, aggressive, or defensive…

  12. Why do we still have this issue – i do not like govt regulation but we just need to make it illegal to sell dogs, cats, birds any know animal that there are abuses; at any pet store retailer.

  13. Took the pledge in honor of the rescue dogs that I have. From what I have been told, one was originally purchased from a pet store. A Malinios in the hands of an uneducated owner is a terrible idea, and he was no exception. Now that he is with me he is blossoming and thinking of new ways to outsmart me every day, but I love him to death and wouldn’t trade him for the world.

  14. I am an animal lover,grew up in cat shows as my mother raised persians and owned a dog grooming shop…We took very good care of each customers animal as if it were our own…..I am disgusted the way our four legged family members are treated,they are beings just as us and deserve love and care and compassion as the rest of us….. I TOO TAKE THE PLEDGE TO NOT SHOP IN PUPPY SELLING PET STORES!!!!!!! EVER!!!!!!!!
    They are a disgrace to the people who love and adore all animals and I for one will not participate in giving these people any finacial gain of any kind!!!!!!!!

  15. I signed the pledge, and I’ve been committed for my entire life. I don’t shop at stores that sell puppies, bunnies or kitties. I even avoid stores that sell any small animals at all.

  16. I absolutely refuse to buy from a pet store. I don’t like seeing those animals in those tiny little cages. Besides their prices are all outrages. I will make my little dog clothes if thats what i want or make her food and treats before i get them from a place like that. I also do not believe in puppy mills. They should all be outlawed and banned.

  17. I never set foot in a store that sells puppies nor kittens, and haven’t for years. I’ve bought my furry kids’ presents at a local store that does pet adoptions and ordered online. Even their stockings came from online pet specialty stores.

  18. We shouldn’t even have to still be discussing this!!! Let’s put them out of business! I officially took this pledge today, but have followed it much longer.

  19. I took the pledge…not that I had to anyway. I won’t buy anything from pet stores anymore. Even the fish they sell are treated inhumanly. All my animals are rescues. Even my house bunny was adopted from someone who bought her at Sylvia’s Pets as a baby. But, when she grew up I guess the novelty wore off. Now, like my dog (stray) and cat (rescue), she lives a wonderful, spoiled life. As it should be!

  20. I took the pledge! And I posted the link to Facebook. I agree, this has to stop. Not only are there more than enough animals in shelters that desperately need homes, but pure breed dogs have numerous health problems and a lot of breeders just don’t care about the welfare of their animals, as long as they make money. How incredibly sad. All of my animals have been rescues/strays. They make the best pets anyway : ) My house bunny was purchased at Sylvia’s pets and when she grew up and had to be trained, Well that was just too much like work for the person I adopted her from. Her, my cat, and dog, all have a wonderful, spoiled life now. Just the way it should be!

  21. I haven’t entered a store that sells puppies or kittens in years and now I’ve taken the ASPCA pledge and shared it on Facebook for others to learn about. Spreading the word.

  22. I took the pledge today, but have been doing this for years. I have 4 rescue dogs. Unitl they all have homes!

  23. I wish that anyone choosing to purchase a pet no matter where from, a shelter, a rescue, a breeder or a pet store would first do their research to find the pet most suited to their family. But for me the most important part is that the potential owner understands that this purchase is for the life of the pet. Shouldn’t we be asking the people that purchase a pet to pledge to keep the pet for it’s entire life? Now that is a pledge I could sign.

  24. As more and more people are making shelters our pet shops. Well, I have a concern when I read 100 street dogs shipped in from Tiawan. Purchasing from a breeder sounds like the lesser of two evils. There are over 200,000 dogs shipped in from other countries to the USA. Why?

  25. Thousands of rehoming organizations and shelters are transporting thousands of dogs, usually small (they leave the big black one and bullies behind) to offer for the Christmas buyers. These dogs have no background, nobody knows from where they originated, their temperaments or their health history, and 20% of them return to shelters (not the ones from where they came). Pet stores sell vaccinated, health history, neutered pups from USDA licensed kennels. More and more of them have return policies and less than 2% of them end up in shelters. Which one would you take home to your family?

  26. I signed the pledge and shared it on FB. I stopped shopping at stores that sell animals a long time ago. It is a great reminder for the holiday season. I have 5 pups – all rescues – and they are great dogs. I am also picking up a “special needs” foster tomorrow in an attempt to find her that perfect home.

  27. Amen, Dr. Nancy! I have been involved with this issue for over 20 years and boy, do we still have a lot of work to do. At the end of the day, it is a very simple supply/demand issue. If we all educate (DON’T preach!) our friends and family about the atrocities of puppy mills, maybe we can make some progress. Can’t tell you how many people I know who know better and still walk into a pet store and plunk down their credit card because they just can’t stand to leave that (fill in the blank breed) behind. I pray that in my lifetime this will get better. It is so distressing and we need to do better for our canine companions. Thanks for continuing to keep this issue in the forefront. Happy Holidays!

  28. Thank you for continuing to spread this message. While many of your readers know this and have taken this pledge long ago, some it is important to continue this mantra. Do not buy while shelter pets die.

  29. Hello Dr Kay!!

    First I want you to know that I look forward to each one of your emails and I read them from top to bottom every time. Also, I miss working with you and seeing your smiling face.

    Now on to pet stores and puppy mills. I support your pledge and I agree not to purchase anything from stores that sell puppies. I do hope however that your readers distinguish between stores that sell puppies and stores that sell dogs. For instance, in Sonoma, where I live there is a local pet store that rescues the least adoptable dogs from kill shelters and fosters and rehomes them through the pet store. The young woman who heads this program is a bully lover and does everything she can to save as many dogs as possble, including bringing many of the dogs home with her until she can find them homes. So, the situation is a pet store that sells/rehomes dogs for a donation towards fees. I wouldnt want anyone to think of not purchasing from or supporting a store like this one.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts. Happy Holidays, I hope you and your family find happiness and love this holiday season.
    Jolena Powell

  30. I’m happy to take the pledge. One of my friends is a foster parent for rescue dogs. The conditions she describes from which some of her pups have been rescued are deplorable.

  31. I am curious as to why you say this .. all poet store puppies come from USDA certified and inspected breeders. If the government cannot do its job that is not the pet stores fault. Would you do better buying a dog in the Wal mart parking lot.. or getting that same dog at a shleter where it has been dropped off after it does not sell?
    as for Walkers.. no thanks I will make my own shortbread .. at least I know what is in it. I will even take some to my local shelters.. along with some homemade dog cookies..but I won;t boycott a store because they are selling a legal and inspected dog.
    I do not understand if the ASPCa is so concerned why they do not fund more inspectors for the USDA licensed breeders Would you suggest going to an unlicensed veterinarian?..

  32. I love your blog. The articles are very interesting and often helpful. I have never and will never buy a puppy from a store or any where else for that matter. There are to many dogs and puppies in shelters and rescues that need homes, to justify buying a puppy.

  33. I made a promise years ago never to shop anywhere that supports puppy mills, but I’ll sign this pledge just as an affirmation. I can’t wait for the day when they no longer exist

  34. Absolutely will take the pledge! And always encourage adoption rather than pet stores. Puppy mills are such an unbelieveably horrible thing — and I just can’t support any business that thinks they are ok.
    Thank you for getting the word out!!

  35. I signed this pledged today. I haven’t shopped in these stores for a long time and have no plans to ever do so. We need to close down the puppy mills to end abuse of these dogs.

  36. Thanks for the timely reminder! Pledge taken- although I’ve consciously avoided these stores for years. One such store here in our town has shut down-yeah!

  37. Luckily no pet store puppies available here… I didn’t have to think twice to sign the ASPCA pledge. I love shopping for my dog. I try to go with “Made in America” items that benefit a cause or group I believe in. Lots of good choices over the holiday.

    I know its not recommended to get a puppy over Christmas, but my first dog was a Christmas gift that came from a shelter. It was a happily-ever-after story as Suki was my constant and beloved companion who lived to age 15. She’s been gone many years now, but the holidays always especially remind me of her.

  38. This is such an important issue–thanks for bringing it up again! I took the pledge, and I’ll be doing my pet’s holiday shopping (as usual) at PetSmart, which supports rescue groups around the country.

  39. While I tell people not to buy puppies from a pet store, it’s unfortunate that the ASPCA paints all breeders with the same brush. Responsible hobby breeders who breed a litter now and then are considered the same as puppy mills. I like getting a dog where I know genetic testing has been done on the other dogs in his pedigree, the breeder gives a health guarantee, and requires the dog to be returned to them for any reason at anytime in the dogs’ life should you not be able to keep the dog.

  40. Took the pledge. I haven’t bought from a store that sells puppies in years. I would drive miles out of my way to buy pet food from small businesses ther didn’t sell puppies. Thanks for getting the word out.

  41. While not in my immediate area, there are several in the surrounding areas. I’ve posted to FB and will encourage others not to shop!

  42. I have never patronized a pet store that sells puppies, so signing the pledge was a no-brainer. I’ve been involved in breed rescue for many years. Most of the dogs surrendered to rescue were originally purchased in pet stores, and came with behavior issues related to poor (no) socialization and health issues.

    Also a heads-up to people who turn to rescues instead of pet stores/puppy mills: do your homework and check out the organization. Some puppy mills pose as rescues to prey on the good-hearted souls who want to adopt.

  43. Just a clarification from my earlier post. I meant to write:

    that in my immediate area (i.e. where I shop for pet toys and treats) I am not aware of any pet stores that sell puppies.

    Unfortunately such stores do exist.

  44. I am fortunate that, as far as I am aware, there aren’t any pet shops that sell puppies. The Humane Society that I volunteer at is now renting store space at a local mall that was once occupied by a pet shop with puppy mill puppies. This “satellite shelter” has been very successful in that in increases the visibility of the shelters adoptable pets (some people can’t bear to bring themselves to go into an animal shelter no matter how clean and well kept) and allows the humane society to rescue more pets from the county’s animal service that would have been euthansized.

  45. I signed the pledge today, but I made the promise to those puppy mill dogs a long time ago.