You walk into a pet store and are instantly drawn to the rows of cute, wiggly puppies peering out from their enclosures. The pet store employee encourages you to take a puppy into one of their play rooms, mentioning they have financing options if the price tag is a bit too much, or maybe suggesting you check out the puppies they have on sale that week.

The longer you look at the puppies, the more you feel bad for them. Instead of being in a big open area, they’re stuck in little display cases like jewelry at a department store. Some of the enclosures are so small the puppies are forced to crawl over each other. Maybe they look a little lonely, or perhaps the pet store isn’t exactly the cleanest place and the puppies look unhealthy. Sadness sets in and your animal-loving heart makes you want to “save” one of those puppies by bringing it home. You’ve heard the stories of where pet store puppies really come from but buying a puppy just this once won’t really do any harm, will it?

Think You’re Saving that Puppy from a Pet Store? Think Again

Nacho Facello/Flickr

Before you act, take a moment to think about what you’re really doing. Sure, the puppy you purchase will have a great life, but what about the parents? Who is going to rescue them? The harsh truth is, by purchasing that adorable puppy you’re condemning its parents, along with countless others, to a life of misery inside a puppy mill.

Think About the Parents

The parents of pet store puppies are forced to spend their entire lives locked in a filthy cage or dog run. Imagine spending day after day, year after year, surrounded by the same four walls. No soft beds, toys, cuddles, or love. No fun walks or visits to the dog park. Dogs in puppy mills are typically only handled when it’s time to be bred. They’re seen as nothing but nameless “breeding stock” whose sole purpose is to help someone make money.

In this greed-driven industry, puppy mill operators cut corners to maximize profits. Dogs are given little to no veterinary care, and often suffer from pain associated with untreated medical ailments, matted fur, dental disease, and overgrown nails. To cut down on cleanup time – if they even clean at all – dogs live in wire-bottomed cages so their feces and urine can fall through the bottom, sometimes onto the cages below. When that system fails (and it often does), the dogs are left with no choice but to walk, sleep and eat in a feces-caked cage. It’s not only unsanitary but completely inhumane.

Female dogs are bred every heat cycle, meaning their tired bodies never get a break. Their puppies are then ripped away from them so they can be shipped off to pet stores. When dogs are no longer of use to the breeder, they’re sold at auction or killed. Some are lucky enough to be rescued, but the majority are not as fortunate. No animal should be subjected to such horrific cruelty. Ever.

Buying is NOT the Same as Rescuing

When you buy a puppy from a pet store, even if the conditions in the store aren’t all that great, don’t allow yourself to believe you’re rescuing that animal.  What you’re really doing is creating an open spot for another puppy to be sold for profit – and it’s the parents stuck in the puppy mill who pay the ultimate price.

End the Cycle of Cruelty

Puppy mills will stay in business as long as the public keeps buying puppies, so the only way to send the cycle of cruelty is to stop buying from pet stores. By refusing to give them business, you’re not only taking a stand against puppy mills but preventing cruelty towards other “milled” animals. If you’re ever concerned about the conditions inside a pet store, the best thing you can do is report it to local authorities or a humane agency.

Adoption is the best option. If a pet store is hosting an adoption event or featuring animals from a local shelter or rescue, by all means, bring that cutie home! When you adopt, you are truly saving a life and creating an open spot for another animal, who may have otherwise been euthanized, to have a second chance.

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