Beware of Swap Meet Puppies This Summer

July 11, 2018

Puppies in carrier

Swap meets (aka flea markets) are delightful community events where it can be fun to hunt down unique knickknacks and collectibles. Unfortunately, these places can also serve as hubs for unethical breeders to sell puppies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates some breeders, but it does not regulate face-to-face transactions—meaning there’s little to no accountability for flea market puppy-vendors, who may keep and breed their animals in cruel, unsafe conditions.

What’s the Big Deal?

Good breeders don’t sell puppies at swap meets because they want you to have an opportunity to visit, meet the puppy’s parents and check out the living conditions for yourself. (Don’t forget to reference the ASPCA’s How to Sniff Out a Good Breeder guide to find out more!) When you run across puppies for sale at a swap meet, it’s impossible to know where they came from. That makes flea markets the perfect location for breeders who could have something to hide. There’s a good chance they’re from puppy mills—horrible places where dogs are typically crammed into tiny, wire-floor cages, without proper veterinary care or even clean food and water.

These dogs may be suffering from diseases or parasites, some of which are contagious to people or to other pets. Symptoms are sometimes easily masked and the puppies may be handled by countless unsuspecting shoppers, contributing to the spread of disease. Sadly, some of these puppies fall sick weeks—or even days—after purchase. Not only do these dogs suffer, their new parents are left to shoulder the financial and emotional costs of breeder neglect. And to make things worse, it may be difficult to track down the seller if any problems arise after you bring your puppy home.

There Ought to Be a Law

In good news, several states (California, Nevada, Virginia, Illinois and Nebraska) have enacted laws that restrict the sale of pets at swap meets, flea markets, roadsides and similar public arenas to varying degrees.

These states illustrate that while it may be difficult or impossible to eliminate swap meet animal sales altogether, state (and local) legislation can go a long way toward regulating pet sales and improving conditions for cruelly-bred or mistreated animals.

You Can Help!

Flea markets make for popular, fun, family-friendly destinations all summer—as they should! Just be wary of any cute animals for sale. Cruel breeders count on potential customers to fall in love with their irresistible puppies after seeing, holding and playing with them at swap meets. But we urge you to please make adoption your first option when bringing home a new pet. You can help break the cycle of cruel breeding by not handing your money over to a shady puppy seller. Visit Barred From Love to learn how to find your perfect dog and speak up for dogs who can’t speak for themselves.