Pet Shops, Puppy Mills – Where Are We?

by Mary Haight on January 5, 2013

pet shops, puppy millsSifting through some pet shops, puppy mills posts, I noticed one from 2010 that mentioned 500 pet shops had pledged to not sell pets. A new report from HSUS states that more than 2000 pet stores have now signed the pledge – a healthy increase in just under two years. There are 9000 pet shops across the country according to the HSUS report.

I do smile when I see this news, and think about those puppy mills that will no longer have an easy outlet in what soon will be one-third less pet shops in the US selling puppies. I also know many of these newly minted pet supply stores may fail to maintain their “puppy-less” status if revenues fall too far for too long and not enough creative planning goes into setting up new streams of revenue.

I read reports and heard from local sources that the Pennsylvania Petland couple I reported on a couple of years ago, Eric and Marcie Caplan, were unable to stick with dogs and cats strictly from shelters, and that was a problem for shelters in the community. I’m uncertain what that status is today, but mention it as a cautionary note.

A recent pet industry magazine report on pet shop success with transition to strictly retail painted a surprisingly positive financial picture of this movement away from puppy sales. Two out of three stores reported success with the shift, and that was largely laid at the feet of the community and  rescues who backed the stores after the switch, and employee enthusiasm turned to ingenuity, according to the store owners.

Animal advocates had hoped for passage of some form of bills S 707 and HR 835 introduced in May 2012, to regulate internet pet sales not yet subject to the Animal Welfare Act, and protect puppies and breeding dogs from the abuse heaped on them at commercial mills. Both were “referred to committee” where bills go to die. Puppy mills that once sold to the 2000+ pet shops signed up on the no puppy sales pledge will be selling through the internet soon.

One bit of news that hasn’t been reported in papers — the Barkworks pet shop in CA has closed down with help from the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) activists, and under pressure from community members who bought very sick puppies from this chain known by animal advocates to buy their puppies from puppy mills. You can read the story at Cindy Lu’s Muse.

It seems we are doing a little better than treading water. Any news on pet shops in your town?

[Note: Here’s the list of 2000+ pet shops that signed the pledge]



Great post.  I live in a very rural area of Missouri and the nearest town has one small pet shop.  I don't shop there because it is owned by a commercial dog breeder and she does sell her puppies there.  The good news here is that due to changes in MO law, many puppy mills have closed.  The bad news is that many have turned to the internet to sell their puppies.  Plus, the Agriculture folks are continuing to threaten weakening our commercial breeders law.


Our city (like the nearby city of Richmond) is considering a ban of live animal sales. Our local Petland still has animals (despite repeatedly saying they were phasing them out). I would love to see this change.


There should be some way to certify or otherwise identify shops that are doing the right thing; so consumers have an easy way to know which shops deserve support.  I wonder if one of the national animal welfare organizations could help with that.

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