A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words: ASPCA Launches Photo Database of USDA-Licensed Dog Breeders

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 12:45pm
puppy mill dogs in cage

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 the public to truly understand where pet store puppies come from. That’s why today we’re launching a new tool on our No Pet Store Puppies website that lets users view more than 10,000 photos of USDA-licensed commercial dog breeding facilities and links some of them 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.

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why do you care

i feel for them


The new ASPCA commercial airing now is very effective, as is this horrible picture of dogs crammed into a barrel. How sad and what a awful way of life. I'am so proud of the work ASPCA does on educating the public. And its make me very proud to be a monthly contributor too! I only buy pet needs from Pet Smart or my vet. I don't even visit pet stores anylonger. None of my money will go to them.

me :)

How about telling people (1) that these pictures are all over 2-3 years old; (2) most pictures are doctored and (3)those realistic pictures are ones you obtained ILLEGALLY USDA was not to realize any but when a slip was made, your organization went in and took them and posted them.

Emma Bu

I wish I could adopt beated animals I love you pets it dosnet matter what anyone thinks or say the you are ugly or diecusting I think you are beautiful just the way you are

Emma Bu

I wish I could adopt beated animals I love you pets it dosnet matter what anyone thinks or say that you are ugly or diecusting I think you are beautiful just the way you are

The Dog Lady

If the USDA requirements are so awful why is the ASPCA, along with other Animal Rights organizations, pushing the PUPS bill which will make even small time home breeders who now raise pups in loving homes as a part of the family into USDA licensed breeders who are forced to follow the USDA rules?
Why is the ASPCA supporting the rules changes that will force home breeders, who keep their dogs as pets in the home, change into commercial breeders who have to follow USDA housing and care rules?
Based on the ASPCA statements they sure can't be trying to require every single breeder to be USDA licensed out of kindness to animals...

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USDA inspection photos are not "doctored." They are taken by USDA inspectors during rountine and non-routine inspections and are made avaialbe to the public through Freedom of Information Act requests. Some may be older...the USDA is slow to post data and FOIA requests can take time to process. But they are still timely. More recent information can be found on the USDA-APHIS website...detailed inspection reports are often posted within 6 weeks' time of the actual inspection. I'd like to see this ASPCA database regulary updated as new information becomes available.