The tale of a puppy mill dog: What to know before you buy a puppy

Pups for sale in pet shops: What about their parents? Puppy mill operators keep breeding dogs in crowded cages stacked on top of each other, forcing them to churn out litter after litter until they can no longer produce puppies. Breeding dogs often live their entire lives in these cages, never getting to experience sunlight on their face or feel grass under their paws. Puppies, like this little Yorkie pup, are taken away from their mothers at a very young age, and often shipped out as young as 6 weeks old.

Most puppy breeders use a middleman, called a broker or dealer, to get their puppies to the pet stores. There is an extensive network of breeders and brokers throughout the United States. The brokers buy cheap puppies from puppy mills and distribute them to pet stores throughout the country, usually by 18-wheeler truck.

Pet store owners place orders with brokers to buy the specific number and breed of cute puppies that they want for their stores. Once the puppies arrive, they are checked by a vet and put on display in the pet store window. Some pet stores administer antibiotics to the puppies to mask any symptoms of illness until after the unknowing consumer takes the puppy home.

Unsuspecting consumers are taken in by puppies for sale in pet stores, and will pay top dollar for the most desirable breeds, like Yorkies, Pugs, English Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus. Typically, breeders sell puppies to brokers for $50-$200 each. Brokers in turn, sell the puppies to pet shops for an average of $400 a piece. Pet stores then charge exorbitant amounts to consumers, with some puppies selling for as much as $3,500! The currently popular “designer mixed breed” dogs like Cavapoos, Maltipoos, Morkies, and Schnoodles bring in top dollar. With the profits, the pet store then buys more puppies from the broker, creating an endless cycle of supply and demand for puppy mill puppies.