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When entering a pet store, it can be hard to resist purchasing a sweet-looking puppy. But while these pets may look adorable in a window, the places they come from will make you think twice about ever purchasing a dog from a pet shop. 

Puppies that are bought from pet stores typically come from large-scale commercial dog breeding operations, also known as puppy mills. In puppy mills, dogs are treated as nothing more than commodities, forced to live in tiny wire cages and deprived of basic needs such as water and food. Most breeding dogs will never experience the feeling of grass under their feet or know what it is like to be loved. Tragically, when we purchase the cute puppies in pet stores, their sale goes back to fund their parent’s abuse. Thankfully, many organizations are working to end this cruel practice. Most recently, Animal Legal Defense Fund  (ALDF) conducted an undercover investigation to expose the abuse in one such facility called Southern Roc, located in New Mexico.

After numerous complaints from individuals who purchased or visited this unlicensed location, the ALDF team decided to see what was happening for themselves. What they found was nothing short of horrifying. Investigators came across rows and rows of desolate pens, and the smell of urine and feces-soaked dirt was overwhelming. The dogs had no clean water or food, and their fur was matted and covered in filth.

“The ‘shelter’ provided is cobbled together with scrap plywood and sheet metal and does not protect the dogs from the elements like rain and wind when temperature regularly plummet below 30 degrees at night,” investigators said.

Investigators reported that the conditions were so horrendous, several dogs had attempted to escape by digging under the wires. However, because this became such a common occurrence, the facility’s keepers installed live wires to shock the dogs if they tried to leave.

No animal should live this way.




ALDF filed a complaint against the breeder with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), identifying numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and asked that these dogs immediately be removed for their safety. 

“We are asking the USDA to shut down Southern Roc and bring charges against Sollars for her flagrant disregard of the law—and the abuse the dogs have endured,” says Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director. “We have offered our help with rehabilitating and placing the dogs after they are confiscated.”

Sadly, there are hundreds of facilities similar to this one, in which dogs are forced to live in hellish conditions, all for the sake of profit.

How You Can Help

Sadly, most puppy stores purchase their dogs from puppy mills like this one. You can help by never purchasing a dog from a pet shop and supporting your local rescue shelter instead.  To learn more about this investigation and the ALDF’s efforts to shut down puppy mills, visit the ALDF website.

All image source: ALDF