What Doggie in the Window?

October 30, 2018


The business of pets is booming. The retail pet industry—those businesses that feed, groom and supply everything we need for our pets—has experienced phenomenal growth over the past 20 years, now reporting $70 billion in revenue annually. But the industry hasn’t just grown; it has transformed. Pet stores offer aisles of food, toys and beds, as well as grooming salons and training classes—everything a pup (and their family) could want or need. What you won’t find in many pet stores these days? Puppies for sale.

That’s a big deal. Historically, pet stores were the primary channel through which large-scale commercial breeders (a.k.a. puppy mills) sold their puppies. Pet stores provided a deceptively friendly interface for cruel breeding facilities to offload their “inventory” without exposing the public to their horrific practices, which often include housing dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization.

Today, the largest U.S. pet store chains, which together make up several thousand stores, do not sell puppies. In fact, a 2018 Pet Business magazine ranking of the top 25 pet store retailers reported only one chain whose business model still depends on the sale of commercially bred puppies: Ohio-based Petland, and that chain’s retail footprint has dramatically diminished. In 2000, Petland had 132 stores open in the U.S.; now, about 80 remain. And to address those puppy-selling pet stores that continue to cling to an out-of-step business model, communities across the nation are refusing to let pet stores profit off cruelty by taking action to ban retail pet sales.

But although big-box pet stores have shifted away from the cruel puppy-selling industry, they’re not the only outlet through which large-scale commercial breeders sell their dogs. Puppy mills are now conducting significant business through online puppy sales. Unfortunately, because it’s nearly impossible to tell whether an Internet seller is an unscrupulous breeder or broker, it’s important to remain aware and fight cruelty both in brick-and-mortar pet stores and online.  

If you’re looking to add a four-legged friend to your family, please consider adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue—or visiting a responsible breeder—to find your next pet. Learn more at aspca.org/barredfromlove.

Don’t forget to follow us at facebook.com/barredfromlove to speak up for animals who can’t speak for themselves!