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How Not to buy a puppy


You gaze into the sad eyes of the puppy in the pet store window and you want to "rescue" the lonely pooch ... Buyer Beware!

You read the ad in the newspaper and the couple seems so trustworthy, with their decades of experience breeding dogs ...

You find a website with photos of green hills and beautiful puppies that insists the "little darlings" and "bundles of joy" will only be sold to "loving families"...

Beware! A cruel commercial mass dog breeding facility could hide behind each of these scenarios. Most likely, you've heard about them.

The Humane Society of the United States calls them puppy mills, and for good reason.
Puppy mills frequently house dogs in shockingly poor conditions, often without providing quality food, clean water, or regular veterinary care.

Mother dogs are bred over and over to produce litter after litter—without hope of ever becoming part of a family. The result is hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out each year for sale at pet stores, over the Internet, and through newspaper ads. This cruelty will only end when people stop buying puppy mill puppies.

If you want a dog in your life, please don't buy a puppy mill puppy. Pet store clerks and other sellers of dogs will rarely—if ever—tell you their dogs came from puppy mills. How do you separatefact from fiction?

The facts are:

Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview hopeful adopters.
They don't ever sell through pet stores or to families they haven't thoroughly investigated.

Purebred "papers" guarantee nothing. Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) readily
admits that it "cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry."

A "USDA-inspected" breeder does not mean a "good" breeder. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the federal law called the Animal Welfare
Act (AWA), which regulates commercial breeding operations. But the act doesn't require all commercial breeders to be licensed. And the USDA establishes only minimum care standards in enforcing this law. Breeders are required to provide food, water, and shelter—but not love, socialization, or freedom from confining cages. Many USDA-licensed and inspected puppy mills operate under squalid conditions with known violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems. These problems can lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars. But pet retailers count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won't be returned. And pet store guarantees are often so difficult to comply with that they are virtually useless. In addition, poor breeding and socialization practices at many puppy mills could lead to behavioral problems throughout the puppies' lives.

One out of every four dogs awaiting homes in animal shelters are purebreds. And breed rescue groups exist for nearly every kind of dog and can be wonderful sources of
dogs for people who want a particular breed.

Please don't buy from a pet store, and be very wary of website's and newspaper ads.

Above all, don't ever buy a dog if you can't physically visit every area of the home or breeding facility where the dogs are kept.

Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop buying puppy mill dogs.

We urge you to visit your local shelter, where you are likely to find dozens of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs just waiting for that special home—yours.

Promoting the Protection

of All Animals

©2002 The HSUS. All rights reserved.

For more information about what you can do and how to find your next pet, contact
The Humane Society of the United States,
2100 L St.,
NW, Washington, DC 20037.


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