Brookhaven Animal Rescue Alliance Ltd

1. Airline’s Puppy Deaths Spark Debate about Commercial Breeders


As animal lovers become more aware that purchasing a dog from a pet store supports the inhumane practices of puppy mills, commercial breeders are using online sources to get their dogs directly into homes across the country.

On August 3, seven puppies died of suspected heat-related complications in the cargo hold of a plane en route from Tulsa, OK, to Chicago, IL. The victims were seven of 14 pups transported by the airline, and reportedly came from a commercial breeder in Oklahoma—many of the puppies were booked on connecting flights, making it likely that they were purchased online by buyers in different cities.

“Puppy mill operators are creating professional looking websites that convincingly dupe consumers into thinking they are reputable breeders,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “A sure way to spot a scam is that they often offer to ship the dogs to the buyer without ever meeting in person. No reputable breeder would ever ship a puppy to a buyer sight unseen.”

Buying a puppy over the Internet is just as risky as buying from a pet store—you can’t see the puppy’s breeding premises or meet his parents. Furthermore, those who sell animals online are not held to regulations established by the Animal Welfare Act.

“The Animal Welfare Act requires breeders to be licensed and meet specific minimum standards of care for animals bred for resale, but a loophole allows puppy breeders who sell directly to the public—which includes over the Internet—to go unregulated,” says Menkin. “They are able to keep inspectors away and operate without being accountable to anyone.”

“The bottom line is the only way to be sure your new puppy isn't a product of cruel and inhumane conditions is to see for yourself where he lives—visit the breeder’s facilities and meet the puppy’s parents,” Menkin states. “Or better yet, adopt from your local shelter.”

Puppy Mills

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.

Puppy mill puppies are typically sold to pet shops—usually through a broker, or middleman—and marketed as young as eight weeks of age. The lineage records of puppy mill dogs are often falsified.

What Is a Puppy Mill Litter of puppies
What Is a Puppy Mill?

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.

Puppy mill puppies are typically sold to pet shops—usually through a broker, or middleman—and marketed as young as eight weeks of age. The lineage records of puppy mill dogs are often falsified. What Problems Are Common to Puppy Mill Dogs?

Illness, disease, fearful behavior and lack of socialization with humans and other animals are common characteristics of dogs from puppy mills. Because puppy mill operators fail to apply proper husbandry practices that would remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, puppies from puppy mills are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions. These can include:

* Epilepsy
* Heart disease
* Kidney disease
* Musculoskeletal disorders (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, etc.)
* Endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism)
* Blood disorders (anemia, Von Willebrand disease)
* Deafness
* Eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, etc.)
* Respiratory disorders

On top of that, puppies often arrive in pet stores—and their new homes—with diseases or infirmities. These can include:

* Giardia
* Parvovirus
* Distemper
* Upper respiratory infections
* Kennel cough
* Pneumonia
* Mange
* Fleas
* Ticks
* Intestinal parasites
* Heartworm
* Chronic diarrhea

How Are Animals Treated at Puppy Mills?

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. Breeder dogs at mills might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements—or crammed inside filthy structures where they never get the chance to feel the sun or a gust of fresh air on their faces.

How Often Are Dogs Bred in Puppy Mills?

In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When, after a few years, they are physically depleted to the point that they no longer can reproduce, breeding females are often killed. The mom and dad of the puppy in the pet store window are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive—and neither will the many puppies born with overt physical problems that make them unsalable to pet stores. When and Why Did Puppy Mills Begin?

Puppy mills began sprouting up after World War II. In response to widespread crop failures in the Midwest, the United States Department of Agriculture began promoting purebred puppies as a fool- proof “cash” crop. It is easy to see why this might have appealed to farmers facing hard times— breeding dogs does not require the intense physical labor that it takes to produce edible crops, nor are dogs as vulnerable to unfavorable weather. Chicken coops and rabbit hutches were repurposed for dogs, and the retail pet industry—pet stores large and small—boomed with the increasing supply of puppies from the new "mills." Today, Missouri is considered the largest puppy mill state in the country.

Seeking a puppy supply source on the East Coast, puppy brokers—the middlemen who deliver the dogs from mills to pet stores—convinced many of Pennsylvania’s Amish farmers in the 1970s that puppies were the cash crop of the future. Brokers conducted seminars to teach farmers how to operate their own breeding facilities. Thirty years later, Lancaster County, PA, has the highest concentration of puppy mills of any county in the nation and has earned the dubious nickname of “Puppy Mill Capital of the East.”

How Can I Help Fight Puppy Mills?

There are many ways you can fight puppy mills, starting with refusing to patronize the stores and websites that sell their dogs.

* Do not buy a puppy from a pet store—in fact, do not buy a puppy from any place that does not allow you
to see its entire facility and meet the mother dog. This includes websites that sell pets online. Anyone
can put up a great-looking website boasting the highest standards of breeding and care, but you really
have no way of knowing if such businesses are what they claim. Truly responsible breeders want to meet
you before selling you one of their prized pups to be sure that he or she is going to a good home. Read
more about online scams here.

* You can also take a more active role in fighting puppy mills by working with the ASPCA to pass legislation
that ensures that all animals bred to be pets are raised in healthy conditions. Stay up-to-date about current
legislation to ban puppy mills by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.
Please also read our Ten Ways You Can Help Fight Puppy Mills.

Puppy Scams & Cons

Buyers Beware: Debunking Puppy Scams

Puppy sleeping

Luckily, many animal lovers are becoming aware that purchasing a dog—or any animal, for that matter—from a pet store is a big no-no. Almost all puppies sold at pet stores come from backyard breeders or puppy mills, where dogs are housed in cramped, filthy conditions without sufficient veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Furthermore, the breeding stock at puppy mills—the moms and dads—are bred as often as possible, for as long as possible, in order to increase profits. But a growing trend among commercial puppy breeders is to cut out the middleman—the pet shop—and use online retailing to get their dogs directly into your homes.

Internet Puppy Scams
Consumers trying to find dogs from reputable breeders or breed rescue groups often turn to the Web for advice. But they soon find themselves bombarded with elaborate websites offering the offspring of “champions.” With a host of fancy terms—certified kennel, AKC registered, pedigree, health certified—and picturesque photos of tail-wagging terriers, doe-eyed Chihuahuas and every other adorable breed, it is easy to become overwhelmed with choices. Don’t be fooled: the Internet is a vast, unregulated marketplace allowing anyone to put up a website claiming anything. Scattered among the websites of reputable breeders and rescue groups, Internet puppy scammers attract potential buyers with endearing pictures and phony promises.

The Loophole
Under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), commercial breeders selling directly to pet stores must be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture. However, the AWA does not regulate breeders that sell directly to the public. The AWA was passed in 1966, prior to the Internet boom—lawmakers couldn’t foresee that commercial breeders would someday have the ability to sell directly to the public via the Internet. This loophole allows some puppy mills to operate without a license and without fear of inspection— meaning they are not accountable to anyone for their breeding and care standards. According to a recent ASPCA survey, 89 percent of all “breeders” selling over the Internet are unlicensed by USDA.

The Scams
An informal online survey conducted by the ASPCA reveals that just as many Americans are now purchasing their dogs over the Internet as buying from pet stores. That said, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, hundreds of complaints are filed every year from victims who were scammed when buying a dog online. Here are some of the most common scam scenarios predators use on consumers:

* The Bait and Switch
In this classic scam, the website depicts dozens of photos of cute and cuddly, happy and healthy
puppies. What the consumer doesn’t realize is that these are stock photos taken from a clip-art
file—or simply stolen from other websites. In this scam, virtually all contact is done via email,
and the puppy is typically shipped without the buyer ever seeing the dog in person. The scam is
revealed when the dog is delivered and the buyer is faced not with the adorable puppy from the
photos, but a sickly dog, often of a different color or with different markings. Scammers count
on people feeling guilty or compassionate and choosing not to send the puppy back.

* Free to Good Home
Internet scammers don’t just use cute photos to lure potential puppy buyers. They also resort
to verbal deceit. With the “free to good home” scam, the perpetrator will often post a sad
story of having to find homes for his purebred puppies immediately—he just lost his wife,
they must be placed for a dying relative, he is going to Africa to be a missionary, etc.
Victims are offered a puppy free of charge, and asked only to pay the shipping fee—usually
about $400. Buyers are asked to send all payments via a Western Union wire transfer or money
order. These methods are favorites among scam artists because they are the equivalent of sending
cash—the money can’t be recovered by the victim. This scam is particularly heartbreaking because
there is no real dog involved! Victims usually arrive at the airport to pick up their new puppy,
only to find that they have been scammed.

* Sanctuaries or Scamtuaries?
Unfortunately, this next scam preys on animal lovers who want to help dogs in need. In this
scenario, the puppy mill will actually set up its website as a “rescue group” or “sanctuary,”
offering purebred puppies who have been rescued from shelters, bad breeders, even from puppy
mills! The scam is revealed by the price tag—the “adoption fees” for these dogs often exceed
$1,000! Breed rescue groups charge nominal fees—usually no more than a few hundred dollars—
because their goal is not to make money, but to find wonderful homes for their rescues.

* AKC-Registered
AKC registry is a service provided by the American Kennel Club. While many people believe AKC
registration means their puppies came from reputable breeders, being AKC-registered means nothing
more than your puppy’s parents both had AKC papers. While there are some AKC regulations, they
do not restrict puppy mills from producing AKC-registered dogs. The fact is, many AKC-registered
dogs are born in puppy mills.

How Can I Avoid Being Scammed?
The best way to avoid being scammed is to simply never buy a dog you haven’t met in person. Please
also keep in mind that adoption is still the best option, even if you have your heart set on a
purebred dog. There are thousands of dogs waiting for good homes at local animal shelters, including
purebreds! Keep an eye on your local shelter, as purebreds turn up more often than people think.
There are also a number of reputable breed rescue groups passionate about finding great homes for
purebred dogs who have been abandoned, abused or surrendered to shelters.

It’s also important to note that the Internet is a very valuable tool for finding reputable breeders and breed rescue groups in your area. When looking for your puppy online, just make sure you follow these simple tips:

* Always check references, including others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the
veterinarian the breeder works with.
* Be sure to deal directly with a breeder, not a broker.
* Never send Western Union or money order payments.
* Always visit. Reputable breeders and rescue groups will be more than happy to offer you a tour.
* If you are told that there will be no refunds for a sick puppy, you are most probably dealing
with a puppy mill. A reputable breeder or rescue group will always take the puppy back, regardless
of the reason.
* Always pick your puppy up at the kennel. Do not have the puppy shipped or meet at a random
How Do I Report a Scam?
If you feel you have been a victim of a puppy scam, please contact the following organizations:

Help Fight Puppy Mills

Puppy looking sad

Do Not Buy Your Puppy From a Pet Store
That puppy who charmed you through the pet shop window has most likely come from a large-scale, substandard commercial breeding facility, commonly known as a puppy mill. In these facilities, parent dogs are caged and bred as often as possible, and give birth to puppies who could have costly medical problems you might not become aware of until after you bring your new pet home.

Make Adoption Your First Option
If you’re looking to make a puppy part of your family, check your local shelters first. Not only will you be saving a life, but you will ensure that your money is not going to support a puppy mill. There are many dogs waiting for homes in shelters all across the country—and an estimated one in four is a purebred! Your second option is breed rescue. If your heart is set on a specific breed you haven’t been able to find in a shelter, you can do an Internet search for a breed-specific rescue organization.

Internet Buyers, Beware!
Buying a puppy from the Internet is as risky as buying from a pet store. If you buy a puppy based on a picture and a phone call, you have no way of seeing the puppy’s breeding premises or meeting his parents. And those who sell animals on the Internet are not held to the Animal Welfare Act regulations, and so are not inspected by the USDA.

Share Your Puppy Mill Story with the ASPCA
If you have—or think you have—purchased a puppy-mill puppy, please tell us your story. Every bit of evidence gives us more power to get legislation passed that will ban puppy mills.

Speak Out!
Inform your state and federal legislators that you are disturbed by the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills, and would like to see legislation passed that ensures that all animals bred to be pets are raised in healthy conditions. You can keep up-to-date about current legislation to ban puppy mills by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.

Tell Your Friends
If someone you know is planning on buying a puppy, please direct them to our puppy mill information at Let them know that there are perfectly healthy dogs in shelters waiting to be adopted.

Think Globally
Have a webpage, a MySpace page or a blog? Use these powerful tools to inform people about puppy mill cruelty by adding a link to our puppy mill information at

Act Locally!
When people are looking to buy or adopt a pet, they will often ask the advice of their veterinarian, groomer or pet supply store.