A U.S. District judge has upheld a Phoenix law prohibiting pet stores from selling pets that don’t come from shelters or rescues. According to an August 13, 2015 article in The Huffington Post, one pet store, called Puppies ‘N Love, sued the city of Phoenix over the ordinance, claiming that it violated the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Phoenix is one of 58 places in the U.S. that have this kind of an ordinance.
The Huffington Post story says that Puppies ‘N Love was the only store in Phoenix still buying from commercial breeders. While there are many reputable commercial breeders, there are also many who are not reputable, and run puppy and kitten mills. These places “mass produce” cats and dogs, which are kept in crowded, inhumane conditions. According to Paws.org, roughly 90 percent of the puppies in pet stores come from these mills. It’s safe to assume the numbers are similar for kittens.
Dogs, puppies, cats and kittens in these mills also often receive little to no veterinary care, and adult cats and dogs are bred, and bred, and bred, until they can’t breed anymore. They’re then either destroyed, or discarded.
Besides all of this, puppy and kitten mills contribute to overcrowding in shelters because they don’t help to take any animals off the shelters’ hands. Indeed, they can actually put even more unwanted pets out there. We’re starting to overcome the stigma of shelter pets, but it’s enormously important for everyone who sells pets, or adopts pets out, to help get them out of the shelters and into good homes.
This is not to say that nobody should, under any circumstances, ever buy from a breeder. While animal activists tend to prefer that everyone adopt shelter pets, there’s still a market for purebreds, and even for designer breeds. If you still want to buy from a breeder, Paws.org says the following:
Be a responsible, informed consumer-if you do buy from a breeder, go to a reputable one who:
- Will show you where the dogs spend their time and introduces you to the puppy’s parents.
- Explains the puppy’s medical history, including vaccines, and gives you their veterinarian’s contact info.
- Doesn’t have puppies available year-round, yet may keep a waiting list for interested people.
- Asks about your family’s lifestyle, why you want a dog, and your care and training plans for the puppy.
- Doesn’t use pressure sales tactics.
It’s unclear whether Puppies ‘N Love will appeal this ruling. According to court documents, the owner claims he never bought from puppy mills, but they also say that one of the breeders from whom he did buy was, most likely, a puppy mill. Puppies ‘N Love says they don’t buy from that breeder anymore.