A horror show: Pet stores and puppy mills

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Some countries have laws in place that prevent pet stores from selling any animal above a goldfish and the occasional rodent, but the sad truth is that many countries worldwide still allow both cats, dogs and other animals to be sold in stores. You can literally go to the mall, head to the nearest pet store and return home with a brand new puppy. In the US for instance, this is completely normal.

Marketing campaigns are especially cruel during the holidays, and dressing puppies up with red bow ties and putting them on display in the window are not uncommon practice. So what’s the problem? Read on.

Where do the pets come from?

I almost don’t know where to begin. After reading this I hope you will refrain from every buying a dog in a pet store no matter how big the urge to take one home might be. Most dogs sold in pet stores are born from abused, starved, caged mothers living in unbearable conditions forced to breed over and over until their bodies shut completely down due to exhaustion. They are then killed and discarded of like any other piece of garbage, only to be replaced by yet another unlucky rape victim.


Living in conditions that are either to hot, to cold, lack basic sustenance such as food and even water, forced to walk, sleep and live in their own feces and urine, hardly makes for an ideal place to raise healthy pups. Aside from all the physical problems, infections, disease and other complications the psychological aspects are horrendous. These mothers are abused from birth and used as puppy making machines. Being treated like this creates stress beyond anything imaginable, and is not exactly ideal to pass on to your young.

Sidebar: What is a “Rape Stand”?

More commonly used in dog fighting, they certainly are used in puppy mills because they are “effective”. A rape stand is a device designed to physically hold a female dog while a male dog mounts her. They are used in cases where the female dog is too aggressive and/or unwilling to otherwise mate of her own volition. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is notorious for partaking in the brutal “sport” of dog fighting. Rape stands were found on his property.

Pooches die so often in fights that owners always need new dogs. This is where the rape stand, also called a breeding stand, comes in. It consists of two steel poles mounted to the ends of a platform that’s often made of wood. U-shaped pieces of curved metal sit atop each pole; one goes around the belly of a female dog and the other around her neck. Source

A puppy mill has no concern for the natural development of a dog

As we know; puppies should remain with their mothers until at least 8 weeks of age simply because certain skills and life lessons are best taught by their respective mother and siblings. Robbing them of these crucial lessons by taking them away from their families early, deprives them of learning vital skills and is almost a guaranteed way to cause severe behavioral problems in later life. A puppy mill has no concern for the well being of its dogs. They are bred as fast as the mothers physical body can handle and taken away way too soon after they are born (however in the case of a puppy mill a mother dog wouldn’t do them much good anyway, given how abused she is).

From here they are shipped out to pet stores all around the country. And by shipped I mean just that. Shipped like any other thing or object. When they finally arrive at their new home (pet store) they are usually severely sleep deprived due to unbelievable stress, severely dehydrated and starved due to little or no available food and water. Naturally many of them die during shipping and arrive dead. They are discarded like trash. Where the dog should be king, profit takes its place.

Before they are put on display the pet store employees will brush them up a bit, give them some food and water, and do whatever else they can as to make them visually pleasing – ready for purchase - completely ignoring the cruelty and abuse that is taking place!

Disclaimer: I am not saying that all pet store employees are cruel human beings, but I am saying that pet stores engaging in the selling of dogs are.

From here the puppies are subject to countless people bending over them, touching, talking and interacting in what must be a very overwhelming experience. Remember, these puppies are not socialized or have even the slightest bit of training to prepare them for such a cultural shock.

Puppies bought are often returned because of behavioral problems, sometimes to the store, sometimes to a shelter. In even worse cases, people discard them in garbage bins or plastic bags which they throw in the ocean. Yes, this does happen.

Considering how prone these pups are to behavioral problems, and how the people who usually buy dogs in pet stores are inexperienced and don’t know any better - or for that matter know how to handle a difficult dog - the dogs’ chances of being abandoned are all that much higher.

If puppies aren’t bought within a certain amount of time, they quickly lose their cuddly puppy look and for each day they stay, the chance of getting purchased is severely reduced. They spend most of their day in tiny cages, and while I’m sure it does happen, more often than not the store employees don’t have the time or care to give them any training, physical exercise or even human contact.

If you buy a puppy or dog from a pet store you are actively fueling the demand for, and supporting, puppy mills.

Selling dogs in pet stores should be banned everywhere!

Even if the puppy in the window looks extremely miserable (because he is) I urge you to not take him home with you out of pity, because as soon as you do, another one will take his place.

And as long as we keep buying, puppy mills will have no incentive to stop what they’re doing.

Author: Stian Karlsen

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