If you’ve ever walked past a pet store in the mall, chances are you stopped to say, “Aww! Look at the puppy!” It’s hard to ignore those wiggly bodies and sweet dispositions – perhaps even a pet store employee encourages you to take a puppy into a playroom. But despite the appearance of being humane, most pet stores hide the fact that their dogs come from puppy mills, an industry that is anything but adorable.

And now thanks to The Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) latest investigation, there is even more reason not to patronize stores that sell puppies. The eye-opening investigation reveals that a boutique puppy store in Manhattan, New York has found rampant illnesses and failure to reveal full health information to potential buyers.


An HSUS undercover investigator worked at the Chelsea Kennel Club for two months and documented puppies with fevers, infections, and illnesses who weren’t immediately taken to a veterinarian. 

A female bulldog puppy languishing in the “iso” room at Chelsea Kennel Club with mucus oozing from her face, later found to have “severe pneumonia.” 6-19-2017

In the longest running, employment-based pet store investigation, the agent found the puppies were only getting sicker as the store tried to cut costs to delay their care. 

A sick puppy vomits inside her display at Chelsea Kennel Club on 5-9-2017.

“From puppies with open surgical wounds on their bellies to a dog who could barely breathe because she was suffering from pneumonia, our investigator witnessed shocking disregard for the care these puppies need,” said John Goodwin, senior director for The HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills campaign.

An underweight French bulldog puppy with protruding ribs and dried mucus on his face in the back room at Chelsea Kennel Club on 6-25-2017.


Unbelievably, the stores “isolation” room was filled with sick puppies who had breathing problems, bloody diarrhea, painful infections, and high fevers, just to name a new. This Pomeranian’s eyes were swollen shut with conjunctivitis. 

The undercover investigator also documented staff smacking the puppies with towels and grabbing them roughly by their scruffs. The investigator also witnesses staff members holding puppies down with their muzzles shut as part of supposed “dominance” training. 

The findings of the investigation have been shared with the proper law enforcement officials responsible for enforcing city and state laws, HSUS says


For more information on HSUS’s investigation, click here.


Sadly, this heartbreaking mistreatment documented at the Chelsea Kennel Club is not an isolated incident and happens all too frequently at puppy stores around the country. “The retail pet industry has a system-wide problem that begins with cruel puppy mills, continues with the way they ship baby animals across the country in cramped quarters, and ends with consumers often being sold sick animals at an inflated price,” John Goodwin said.


Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities, typically run on a “factory farm” model. In these places, the welfare and happiness of the dogs tend to be a far lower priority for the owner than the aim of simply turning a profit. Dogs are usually held in small, crowded wire cages and provided with the bare minimum of care required to keep them alive. Lack of space, inadequate nutrition, poor hygiene, and rampant over breeding are commonplace in puppy mills, leaving the dogs with a host of health issues ranging from dental problems, severely matted fur, eye, ear, and throat infections, and severe genetic deformities.

Puppy mills will stay in business as long as the public keeps buying puppies, so the only way to end 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.

Please share HSUS’s latest investigation with everyone you know. The people who know the truth beyond the cruel puppy mill industry, the more lives we can save.

Image source: The Humane Society of the United States