Home > Backyard Breeders, Pet News, Puppy Mills > How much is that doggie in your browser? You’d be surprised.

How much is that doggie in your browser? You’d be surprised.

I thought I would start you off with a few numbers today.


That’s the total number of ads for puppy sales that appeared on just nine (9) high-volume puppy sale websites (yes on the internet) on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.

I’ll give you another number.

733, 131

The number of individual puppies that appeared for sale in ads on those same nine high-volume puppy sale websites that same day.

And yet, one more number for you.


The very conservative number of puppies estimated to have come from puppy mills that appeared on those sites (in online ads) that same day. (If this number were to be extrapolated to the number of puppies appearing in these online ads over 365 days that would be 81,813,560 puppies a year.)

So where did these numbers come from? A report issued by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2012. They generated these numbers by studying nine online sites known for their high-volume sale of puppies.  The methodology was the same one used by IFAW in their 2008 investigation into the online sales of endangered species products.

You can read the full report here, and I encourage you to do so, but I wanted thought I would share some of the highlights of the report with you today.

As you think about the push against pet stores who sell puppies from puppy mills, I want you to keep in mind where the real high-volume sales are occurring these days. It’s not in a bricks and mortar mom-and-pop pet shops, but online, where puppy millers are NOT subject to USDA inspection.

So let’s get to it. So what were the nine online sites included in the IFAW study?

Six high-volume puppy sale sites:

  • Animaroo – based out of Missouri, that has over 300,000 monthly visitors
  • DogsNow – a California-based business that is a service of EquineNow.com
  • NextDayPets* – a Maryland-based business that has over 3,000,000 (3 million) visitors per month
  • PuppyFind* – based out of Arizona and has over 300,000 visitors per day
  • PuppyTrader – based out of Pennsylvania and serves U.S. and Canadian visitors
  • Terrific Pets – a North Carolina based business and operates as a platform for buyers and sellars

*These two websites are being used by a Wisconsin-based “animal shelter” to sell the puppies they are breeding to “raise money for their no-kill shelter”. I wrote about it last week.

And, three general buyer-seller platforms engaged in puppy sales:

  • Craigslist – A California-based business that operates as a free online version of a newspaper classified ads
  • eBay Classifieds – a subsidiary of eBay based out of California and operates as an online classifieds platform
  • Oodle – a California-based business that provides a “friendly local marketplace to buy, sell and trade”

Keep in mind that these are only the nine high-volume sites. There are many other medium or small sites in existence today that were not included, and more are being created every day.

IFAW referenced an HSUS three-month study into a “single online seller who advertised puppy mill dogs on nearly 800 Web domains designed to appear like local breeders selling online.” The online puppy sale industry is big bucks and puppy mills are in the thick of it.

On this one day, Wednesday, July 18, 2012, IFAW pulled a percentage of ads from these sites and analyzed them based on a pre-defined set of criteria (see page 5 pf the report for the criteria list).

Here is a summary of their findings revealed the following results (based on that one day):

Percentage of ads that came from “likely puppy mills”

Projected number of puppies advertised per site on day of investigation:

Are you shocked yet? I was too when I first read the report. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the number of puppy mills turning to online sales. I had no idea.

Now I know why so many Minnesota large-scale breeders have chosen to let their USDA licenses to lapse. Now I know why so many are turning to selling their puppies online. It’s big business. It’s money-making business. It’s also unregulated – no inspections, no criminal violations, no worries. Going online offers puppy mills all the secrecy they desire with no repercussions. Scary huh?
Puppy mill kennels

  1. February 4, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    Oh my gosh, these statistics make me so sad. Thank you for sharing them, the only way these numbers will ever change is by educating others.

    • Mel
      February 4, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      Thanks Wild Things. Agree. Education and changing the laws.

  2. Jen
    February 4, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Those numbers boggle the mind. Even if you know (or think you know) that it’s bad….that’s far worse than I thought it was. Poor pups 😦

    • Mel
      February 5, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      Don’t they? Far worse than I thought too. If I just look at the 62% of puppies number and times it by 365 the number is mind blowing – 81,813,560 puppies a year.

  3. February 4, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    It boggles my mind that people are still willing to buy a dog that they have never seen in person. Even after all the bad press and all the public education about the horrors of these places. There is no hope for humanity 😦

    • Mel
      February 5, 2013 at 6:28 AM

      Mine too Karen. I would never buy a dog sight unseen. It’s just too risky. I would much rather meet a dog and get a sense of their temperament and health than to spin the wheel and hope the dog is not sick and loaded with numerous health issues, as most puppy mills dogs are before they are sold online.

  4. February 5, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Education. Education. Education. Puppy mills end when there is no demand for them.

  5. February 5, 2013 at 6:15 AM

    You know what else is sad? That some of these shoppers started out with a rescue but the adoption process was so cumbersome and the staff so difficult to work with that folks opted to buy instead. Because, let’s face it, puppy mill breeders don’t care who buys the dog, only that they do.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2013 at 6:26 AM

      You hit the nail on the head Jen.

    • February 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      Absolutely. I understand why rescues want to be absolutely certain about the adoption and for some dogs it’s important to find a family who can help them work through their quirks. At the same time, not every good dog owner meets stringent rescue criteria and if they make people jump through hoops to adopt, many will go elsewhere. The rescue we work with doesn’t make the adoption process cumbersome, and returns are still very rare.

      • Mel
        February 5, 2013 at 11:53 PM

        All valid points. It’s always a delicate balance with rescue isn’t it? I know a rescue who isn’t so diligent with home checks and as a result you see mismatches occur at a higher rate. The rescue I support is more stringent, but not cumbersome, in my opinion, so we find great homes for great dogs and few returns. Always a balance.

  6. February 5, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    And if the biggest site has 85% of puppies coming from mills, where are the other 15% coming from? Backyard breeders? Because I can’t imagine any responsible breeder doing that kind of online advertising.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is lots of puppy sales through Google ads. And they’re turning up on dog blogs trying to make a few dollars. If the blogger notices the ad and rejects it, another similar one shows up from another site.

    I suspect Google Ads will turn up on future surveys of online dog sales.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      I can’t either Pamela. Responsible breeders want to know where their dogs are going. Puppy mills couldn’t care less as long as they get their money. (Although, they sure do a good job fooling people into thinking they care for their dogs.)

      I had heard about Google Ads popping up other pet products I would never support (like shock collars), but puppy ads? I would never, ever use them then. Yuck! That would be like supporting Michael Ayalon. 😦

  7. February 5, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    It makes me want to throw up a little. In hindsight my first 2 dogs who are now at the rainbow bridge were likely puppy mill dogs. I feel horrible about this, but as the saying goes when you know better you do better. I am now a converted rescue dog owner. I wish there was something we could do to change all of this. Sigh!

    • Mel
      February 5, 2013 at 11:50 PM

      Me too. I think you said it best – when you know better, you do better. The same here.

  8. February 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Ugh, these stats are so depressing. I can’t understand people buying a dog off the internet. Even the name of that one kills me – Next Day Pets. WtH? Hopefully people will start to get more educating and find out where their dogs are coming from!

    • Mel
      February 5, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Unfortunately, NextDay Pets is quite widely used. There was a story about the creator and his purchase of a multi-million dollar mansion in Florida. People were pretty upset since most of his money was made off the backs of puppy mills dogs. 😦

      Education and legislation is the only way to stop puppy mills.

  9. February 6, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Ugh…those numbers are so disheartening. It just staggers the mind to think that there are so many ignorant people out there that get sucked in by them (and a lot of us used to be ignorant too). The biggest way to put these people out of business is to stop giving them what they want….MONEY. And yes, that needs to be done by educating people. We just can’t get the word out enough. And of course, working on legislation is so important. It is good to see some states passing more laws recently….the federal government has certainly been dragging their feet on the PUPS act.

  10. February 7, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    It’s disgusting. Not only do we need legislation and education to stop this, we need a task force that can inspect, investigate, arrest and SHUT DOWN these places. It makes me sad to say that I belong to the human race, this people aren’t human, they’re disgusting.

    • Mel
      February 7, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Ah Jodi! Thank you for your passion! I am SOOOOOO with you!

  1. June 9, 2013 at 2:55 AM

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