Home > Animal Rescue, Jasper, Pet Adoption, Puppy Mills, Shelties > The biggest lie pet stores tell you

The biggest lie pet stores tell you


The first time I saw Jasper (and his sister) it was in the impound room at our local shelter in Burnsville. I was immediately taken with both of them. They were so adorable!

It was pretty unusual to see a Sheltie at our shelter back then. Not that we didn’t get one in once in a while, but it just wasn’t common. The fact that these two were 8 1/2 months old was even more unusual. Sheltie puppies? No way!

Of course, I didn’t know then how they had come to be there. Not until much later. They had both been “rescued” along with a cat from a pet store in Shakopee. The woman who bought them did so because she was so appalled by the conditions they were in that she couldn’t stand leaving them there. She offered the store owner a low sum of money for both Jasper and Jasmine and a cat, and he took it.

She immediately brought them to our shelter so they could receive treatment and be adopted. I wrote about fostering them in a post back in March 2009.

The reason I share this story with you is to back up a point made in a great blog post I read a while back. It was titled “What Happens to the Puppies?”  In it, Brenda Nelson (the blogger) explored the common myths people have about what happens to pet store puppies.

She starts her post by saying You may have asked yourself “What happens when Pet Stores do not sell the puppies?”, I am going to tell you the true answer, but first let me tell you the wrong answer.

If you haven’t already guessed by that great opening statement, let me tell you now, pet store puppies are not euthanized if no one buys them. They are also not shipped back to the “breeder” (and I use that term loosely). They are not dumped somewhere and left to fend for themselves either.

No. Puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores are left in the pet store window until they sell. Or they are shipped to another store where they may have a better chance of being sold. And there they will sit, waiting for that one person, that special someone, who wants to “save” them.

You see, pet stores rely on people to feel guilty. They rely on someone thinking “If I don’t take this puppy, it will be killed.” They rely on someone falling in love with the puppy before they find out that it is sick and will need expensive medical care. They want you to feel sympathy for that puppy in the window. They want you to feel like you are rescuing the puppy. Because by making the person feel like (the) pets’ life is in danger, pet stores force the person to make a rash decision, “Buy the puppy.”.

This is how puppy mill puppies are sold every day in America’s pet stores. It’s all about lies and fostering misperceptions. Pet stores who sell puppy mill puppies (and 99% of the puppies in pet stores ARE from puppy mills) will do and say anything to get you to buy that puppy in the window. Why? Because they know that once you buy it, you won’t be bringing it back, sick or not sick.

As I told you at the beginning of this piece, Jasper and Jasmine were 8 1/2 months old when I got them. They were puppies, but not young puppies. If they were like most puppy mill puppies, they were probably shipped to this particular pet store at 6-8 weeks old and then sat there for 6-6 1/2 months, waiting for someone to “rescue” them. And, someone did.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad she saved Jasper, his sister and the cat. They were living in horrible conditions in that pet store.

But, to Brenda’s point, they were not euthanized. They were not returned to the puppy mill owner. They were not dumped somewhere.

No. They were sold at a discounted price to someone willing to buy them to “save” them.

Please don’t buy into the guilt-fest that pet stores give you. Don’t buy a puppy from a pet store and thus force the parents to continue to live a life of torture, neglect and pain. Don’t help perpetuate the puppy mill trade.

Want to rescue a puppy? Adopt. Those are the ones who really WILL BE euthanized if you don’t “rescue” them.

  1. August 6, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    You have hit on such a common misconception… I know when I was younger, I used to walk by the pet store window and feel horrible for those dogs that I saw month after month. I would wonder what would happen to them and would fear the worst, as you discuss here. Your post is so on point and necessary – many people do feel that they are “saving” those animals, even though they are then contributing to the cycle that needs to be stopped.

  2. Jan
    August 6, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    It’s hard to believe that people who care enough for animals would run a pet store that continues the horrible puppy mill operations.

  3. August 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    I would argue that 100% of the dogs in a store are puppy mill puppies. Reputable breeders don’t so much sell their dogs but adopt them out to loving homes and recoup the costs. There are contracts to sign, promises to be made on both sides. A reputable breeder WANTS you to see the linage. Wants you to understand where the dogs come from and wants them to come back to the breeder if for what ever reason it doesn’t work out. If you don’t see any of that in a pet sale, then I would say you are looking at either a puppy mill puppy or a ‘back yard breeder’ who is just as bad.

    I know several people who have ‘rescued’ a dog from a pet store. They never want to believe they came from puppy mills and that they just fed into the system.

    • Mel
      August 6, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      Point well made. I would argue it’s 100% too. I agree with you on reputable breeders would never sell to a pet store either. Too many people think they are “rescuing” a puppy. Thus my post. 🙂

  4. August 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I always discourage people from buying from a pet store, I know where those puppies come from and as many times as I’ve stood at the pet store and looked at those precious babies, I’d never seriously consider bringing one home. If I had my way, all breeders would need to be licensed and pet stores would not sell live animals, they might offer adoption for rescued animals but they would not sell purchased puppies.

    My local pet store usually has a rescued cat or two up for adoption. I love that about them.

  5. August 6, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Before we adopted Shiva I remember seeing a Boxer puppy in a local pet store when we were buying food for the cat. That same puppy was still there a month later when I went back for more food. Seeing that dog there after over four weeks broke my heart. I admit, I did worry the dog would be put down if it didn’t sell before it got too big as it was already too large for the small space in the store. The $1400 price tag did not ease my concerns. Somehow I managed to avoid making the purchase but was relieved when the dog was gone after two months. I hope he or she is doing okay today.

  6. August 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Thank you, Mel, for posting about this! The question is asked way too often, the assumptions or misinformation way too common – and the cycle continues in part because of them. A pet store near us actually used the “adopt” lingo, in attempts to push the rescue image. Their dogs were 100% from mills. Lies, deception, false advertising – and playing on people’s emotions, are all tricks of the pet store trade.
    I agree, too, setting aside the few but great pet stores that offer only pets from rescues/shelters – it’s 100% puppy mill sourced.

    • Mel
      August 6, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Amazing isn’t it Kim? Now they want to use the word “adopt” to take away the stigma that comes with a pet store puppy. They an try and disguise it any they want, but a puppy mill puppy is still a puppy mill puppy and when you buy from a pet store YOU are the one that continues to torture their parents and keep them in pain.

      Of course, I didn’t mean you personally. 🙂

  7. August 6, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    I hope every person contemplating buying a puppy from a pet store sees this!

    In our local mall, the pet store has disappeared, so I hope that means that people are starting to get the message!

    • Mel
      August 6, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      I hope so too Jackie! We are slowly seeing them disappear here too. Pet Ranch nearby closed at our mall. Now if only we could get Petland to close or change it’s business model. Of course, I would be happy to see the store Jasper came from shut down as well. He has over 20 years of complaints and the last time I was there he had probably 20 Rubbermaid containers on the floor filled with Guinea Pigs. I shudder to think what he was planning to do with them.

  8. August 6, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Thank you for the link back to your original post about fostering Jasper and his sister. It’s amazing to see how far Jasper has come.

    Yes, you’re right that the pet store owner did not deserve to profit because a kind-hearted person wanted to rescue these animals. But I know you’re thankful to have Jasper by your side. There is not a happy solution until every puppy mill is shut down.

    • Mel
      August 6, 2012 at 9:24 PM

      Thanks Pamela. I am often amazed that he has become such a normal dog given where he came from. I am truly grateful this woman rescued all 3 animals, but I also recognize the inherent conflict in that decision. I will not be happy until every puppy mill is shut down. Sadly, after seeing Leo’s piece on Cindy Lu’s Muse I wonder if it will ever happen.

  9. August 6, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    I always tell people that are considering buying a puppy from a pet store to just walk away. If you buy that puppy you are putting money in the pockets of the puppy mills and pet stores and thus they can continue to do this, it’s not saving it’s enabling the worst of the worst to keep going.
    Great post Mel!

    • Mel
      August 7, 2012 at 6:01 AM

      Thanks Jen. I do too. I am always amazed when people are able to compartmentalize buying a puppy from a pet store and supporting a puppy mil. They are one and the same. You can lie to yourself and say that buying that puppy in the window won’t make a difference, but it will. For every dog bought at a pet store there are two parents sitting in a small cage, in their own feces, with no human contact, and little food or water. When they can no longer churn out puppies they will be killed. Buy a puppy from a pet store and you sentence another dog to death – its mother.

      Thanks Jen for educating people about pet store puppies.

  10. August 7, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    There is a group her in Portland that has a storefront in the mall and claims to be a “rescue”. But if you check out all of their adoptable dogs, they are pure bred puppies. They are a pet store that is using a slick marketing campaign and making people believe that they are “adopting” dogs that need to be rescued. It makes me so angry.

    Their marketing campaign is: “We have a unique PET & PEOPLE MATCHING PROCESS when you are ready for a Pet. We match you with your ideal Pet based on personality, lifestyle and more.” What they really do is get a puppy from a breeder and sell it to you. I think it is very deceptive – they are a PET STORE pretending to be a rescue. https://www.facebook.com/TheHannahSociety

    We just need to keep spreading the word and educating people. Great post Mel!!

    • Karen
      January 31, 2017 at 11:09 AM

      Your initial comment implies that rescue dogs can’t be purebreds. So wrong!

      • Mel
        January 31, 2017 at 9:42 PM

        I know for a fact they can be rescue dogs. I have 3 shelties and a Lab to prove it. 🙂

  11. September 10, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Okay, but if no one buys them to “save” them, THEN what happens to them?

    • Mel
      September 10, 2012 at 9:17 PM

      Hi Lady – They are discounted until someone buys them or transferred to another store to be sold there. I always ask myself who is going to save their parents who sit rotting in cages because someone “saved” their puppy in a pet store. The truth is by “saving” a pet store puppy (notice I used quotes) you damn the mother and father to more misery. it’s an awful cycle.

      • Lauren
        December 2, 2016 at 6:48 PM

        Ok…so my thought is-discounted so much by the time they are a year old they will be bought? Please understand I have legit adopted every single animal I have had. However, I am contemplating one at a pet store and he’s been there since September. Are you telling me in 3 more moths someone is going to finally buy him at another store for less money? What if they don’t? There will be an inevitable end for him whether it’s adopted or..what? I understand the statement to end these puppy mills. But honestly it sounds a bit political forgetting there are actual live animals being affected by it. Please help if you have more info.

  12. davidmeh
    January 10, 2015 at 8:31 PM

    NEW LAWS

    You are going about it the wrong way. You need to lobby your local government to pass a law making it illegal to run a puppy mill since it could be considered cruel as you state.

    • Mel
      January 10, 2015 at 8:34 PM

      Nope. We did that too. The puppy and kitty mill bill became law last year in Minnesota. This is a multi-pronged approach.

      • davidmeh
        January 10, 2015 at 8:46 PM

        WRONG

        That bill does not make breeding illegal, it regulates it and promoted breeding under a license.

        The practice needs to be illegal. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and you could NEVER win. You need to lobby your politicians. And to get their attention, you need to ask votes to sign a petition to make breeding illegal. When you have thousands of names, you can get the support of a politician who can write the bill. Getting voter support can also give you the power to get someone elected who supports your cause. And with the voters behind you, you will be heard.

      • Karen
        January 31, 2017 at 11:16 AM

        Sadly, the AKC makes most of their millions yearly on puppy mill puppies. Fighting the AKC is extremely difficult. So although the CORRECT thing to do is make puppy mills illegal, they are a wealthy entity with high paid lawyers and lobbyists.

      • Mel
        January 31, 2017 at 9:42 PM

        Truth. Completely agree.

  13. Pat Wolf
    April 14, 2016 at 4:58 PM

    I have more lies for you….. Pet stores, at least the one I worked at, give all new pups antidiarhea meds as they are stressed from the travel.. You are not told that when you buy them, and many times, the diarrhea continues when you take them home. there is only so much they will guarantee and they will claim you didn’t feed them the recommended food. I’ve even heard them recommend using boiled chicken. They should tell them about the medican they have been taking. I quite the day I opened the freezer and saw about 6 dead puppies wrapped in plastic, stored there until the crematorium could pick them up. They had a vet right next door and many times, they just treated them themselves with karo syrup for dehydration that at times worked, and others did not. I would never shop at a store that sold pups or kittens.

    • Mel
      April 15, 2016 at 1:16 PM

      Ugh. That is so disturbing. I a not surprised, but it doesn’t make me feel any better that I am not surprised. It is amazing to me that people can be so uncaring and unfeeling as to do this kind of stuff to animals who cannot defend themselves, especially puppies. Horrible Pat, just horrible.

  14. April
    July 10, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    What I would like to know is what happens if you dont buy the puppies? The article is kind of confusing, are they actually euthanized or do they just want you to believe that?

    • Mel
      July 12, 2016 at 9:18 PM

      Most of the time they keep them until someone buys them. Jasper was 9 months old and still in the pet shop window when a woman bought him and his sister and brought them to our humane society. It’s pretty rare they will euthanize them. Sometimes they even return them to the puppy mill for breeding.

  15. November 13, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    All of this just hurts my heart. I don’t know what can be done. The thought of a dog going back to a puppy mill is horrifying. I wish there was an answer to all of the terrible stuff that we do to all of our animals. I just don’t understand how people can be so heartless.

  1. August 9, 2012 at 12:09 AM

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