The Terrifying Reality of Shopping and not Adopting

Warning: If you come here to solely read about cats, this post is relatively focused on dogs and I apologize. Here is a picture of my beloved kitties to get you through:

You know when you walk into the mall or past a strip mall and see that store filled with adorable puppies, and sometimes cats and other small critters?

You may be able to walk by it, perhaps because you do not know about puppy mills. Perchance, it is just me and a few other select folks that get torn up by it. BUT I cannot walk by the pet store. I cannot look in the general direction of any pet store without a. feeling sick to my stomach b. crying uncontrollably c. becoming passionate enough to yell and come up with a plan for how I am going to save every animal in the entire world. Dramatic? Maybe, but I feel it is justified. Typically, my husband will not allow me in the general direction because he recognizes my passion and does not want the mall to always be a place I have to remove the mascara stains from my face.

You may be asking, what is the crazy animal-lady talking about this time? What in the world is a puppy mill and how does that have anything to do with the pet store sweet FlufftyPants came from? (As usual, I am not judging you. Generally, people that shop for pets do not know the conditions their furbaby lived in or the cycle continued when they shop and do not adopt).

Well here is the definition of a puppy mill from the ASPCA:

“A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.”

And guess where pet stores routinely find the furry friends to sell to you? You guessed it, those backyard breeders that operate much like a puppy mill. Whether small or large scale, this is still a puppy mill by definition. Disclaimer: This is not every breeder. You can be a breeder and be a fantastic dog owner. However, it is also my opinion that we should spay and neuter all pets. And this viewpoint stems from the evidence of full shelters all across the United States of animals waiting to find a furrever home.  

Many of the brand new, tiniest of tiny puppies I held in exam rooms as a vet assistant, were sickly and the only reason? Because they came from a pet store. They were bred in a puppy mill consisting of very poor conditions. They had no chance to be healthy, to thrive. The good news for them? They got out of the mill. They successfully made it to the pet store. While, mom is still back at the mill being forced to produce more and more puppies. She, herself, probably sick and miserable. And I can see how the pain for those puppies in tiny cages may make you want to take one home.”Hey, I saved a puppy today from that horrible store.” But in reality, you helped the store, you aided their business, and the cycle can now successfully repeat with more puppy mill puppies. It is a truly vicious cycle. It is almost like the store operators know we will fall in love with those petite little faces in the front window.

Bonus for me-I have a friend who has the same resentment and similar reaction to pet store sightings. Get us together and ask us to walk past a pet store and passion will ensue. Kristyn and I have actually walked into a pet store together. I know, dangerous. We wanted to ask some questions, get some real answers. What we found instead was a mixture of information that did not quite add up. We were told we could look into any of the breeders names on the tags–read the tags, people–and no information was available anywhere online. We were also told we would be able to receive the address of the breeder if we were interested in a particular dog. Conveniently, the workers could not find that certain address. Following no address, we were thereupon told the breeders do not actually disclose that information because it would hurt their business if people knew where to find them. Umm, hello? Red flag! Red flag! It will hurt your business because we will see where these poor babies come from!

The reality is, shelter pets are being euthanized daily because of space, cage aggression, and so on, while more and more puppies are bred every day in puppy mills.

Good grief, that is enough to make me hot with anger!

The upside to this tragic information?
1. According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet store sales have decreased in the past 4 years, while animal shelter adoptions have increased. Let’s keep that ball rolling!
2. Certain states are working towards laws requiring pet stores to house shelter pets for adoption and banning puppy mill puppy sales.(Keep pushing New Jersey!
3. Some of the larger stores, such as Petsmart, only have shelter pets up for adoption. Woo, Petsmart for the win on that one! (

I am hopeful that now, even if you are not as touched by this as I am, you are able to have a conversation with someone who is considering adding a member to their family. Please, recommend the shelter.

Let’s break the cycle of pet stores!

The Bloomington Animal Shelter has “Free Feline Friday” once a month because there are so many cats awaiting a home of their own. They also have similar events for dogs. Look them up on Facebook for more information!

You can read more about puppy mills from the experts at ASPCA here: or the experts at the Humane Society of the United States here:

As always, thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post!


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