We’ve heard it a million times: “Yes, I bought my puppy at a pet store, but he didn’t come from a puppy mill. The store told me that they only get puppies from USDA-licensed breeders.” That line is used frequently by pet store employees to reassure customers—but what does it really mean?
Sadly, it doesn’t mean much. The USDA’s standards of care are so minimal that most of us would not consider them to be humane. Dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in cages only six inches longer than the dog in each direction, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. It's completely legal to house them in cages with wire flooring, and to breed female dogs at every opportunity. These federal standards leave a lot of room for dogs to be severely mistreated.
But seeing is believing. We wanted to make it easy for you to truly understand where pet store puppies come from. That’s why we’ve launched a new tool on that allows you to view more than 10,000 photos of USDA-licensed commercial dog breeding facilities and links some of these facilities to specific pet stores that have sold their puppies within the past year.
You can search the website by pet store name or zip code, USDA license number, the breeder’s name, and specific breed. The photos were taken by USDA inspectors during routine inspections of the facilities.
“Our research reveals a clear disconnect between what many Americans think ‘USDA licensed’ means and what the USDA actually requires of commercial dog breeders nationwide,” explains Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign. “The federal requirements fall far short of the public’s standards and expectations for the humane treatment of dogs, and we hope that people will use the new tool on the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies website to see for themselves.”
We hope to work with USDA to better enforce and improve the care standards for dogs in commercial breeding facilities, and you can help, too, by decreasing the demand for puppy mill puppies. Take the No Pet Store Puppies Pledge to not purchase anything—including pet food, kitty litter and toys—from a store or website that sells puppies.