Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys

I spent the better part of a decade running a East Coast based pet store . This outlet was a highly successful business offering pure bred puppies, food, supplies and related services such as training and grooming. My involvement with this company started quite innocently enough when I purchased a puppy and I thought this would be the greatest job in the world. And for a time, it was.

We had an amazing location which drew a ton of traffic, many celebrities and a zany mix of staff members that were charismatic and caring. The care and attention offered these babies were first rate. We employed a licensed vet tech and were supervised by two veterinarians.

We also lied through our teeth a multitude of times daily when asked ” where do the puppies come from”. The accumulation of those lies and a moral dilemma finally lead me away from the business . Truth be told, 90% of the kittens and puppies offered were purchased through wholesale distributors , brokers and on-line auctions. Every so often a hobbyist or local cat “breeder” would sell a liter to us. We bought low and sold high, each person worked on commission and it wasn’t much different than buying a used car. At that time, most pets cost the store around $150-$200 and retailed for $850-$1,000.

One time, a beagle was sold for $2,000 with falsified registration papers depicting championship blood lines. Transactions like this were a daily occurrence and so were the multitude of health related and breed specific issues. We spent a considerable time fighting with irate pet owners when their pals developed problems and had more than our share of law suits. One time, a couple came in with a white terrier hybrid, a young dog maybe two or three. He asked if we could identify this breed, none of us could. Until he took out his receipt and registration papers claiming this pup to be a Maltese, a toy breed expected to weigh well under ten pounds with a silky, non-shedding coat. Far from the twenty pound wiry fox terrier like adult dog that stood in front of us purchased for $1500.

As much joy that one could derive, watching happy tails and purring kittens find loving homes were overshadowed by the litany of lies, deception, embellishment and questionable business practices. No matter what a consumer is told, you can rest assured that any pet provided by a pet store was bred in a puppy mill environment and prone to physical and behavioral difficulties . Some of these issues can be devastating resulting in bite histories or life threatening medical conditions. Heart breaking stuff, really.

One would be well advised not to support pet retail outlets. The Puppy Project, with it’s certification process and legitimate breeders are a better alternative for a happy, healthy pet.

The Perils of Buying a Puppy The Wrong Way

by Kimberly Bowe

The purpose of this article is to define how NOT to purchase a new puppy and to outline the consequences of purchasing a puppy the wrong way.

There are many “wrong ways” to buy a puppy. Primarily, the worst way to purchase a puppy would be from a pet store or puppy mill. And according the ASPCA and Humane Society, 99% of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.Puppy for Sale in pet store

So not only would someone be supporting an industry that treats dogs like unfeeling products, allowing them to live in barbaric conditions without human contact or veterinary care…. But they would also be purchasing a puppy with extremely poor breeding and genetics.

The “wrong way” to buy a puppy is also to act on impulse (i.e. purchasing the first adorable puppy you see in the window). If you are going to share your life with a dog for more than a decade, you should make sure that you’re buying a dog that will complement your lifestyle. It makes no sense for a tiny older woman to buy a rambunctious Rottweiler or Border Collie. It makes no sense for someone who works all day to buy a dog that doesn’t do well when left alone. If someone needs help finding a dog appropriate for his or her lifestyle, then PuppyProject’s Canine Compatibility Page here is the 1st step toward making this important decision.

The perils of buying a puppy could be divided into three umbrella categories: health, behavior, and legalities.

Puppy Health:

Now come on—every puppy is adorable and deserves to be saved. Look at those faces! If only you had a crystal ball to allow you to look into the puppy’s future. Well… hello! That’s where we, the veterinarians can help you. And thus our first category is “health.”

What we know to be true:

There is a much higher incidence for a puppy purchased from a pet store or “less than reliable breeder” to become sick immediately or shortly after adoption/purchase due to stress, parasites, poor

Another sick puppy sold through pet stores

nutrition, and/or lack of veterinary care. Unreliable history exacerbates the issue of dealing with a puppy’s health or illness. From the day you show up in our office your dog becomes a mystery to be solved. In contrast, dogs from responsible, ethical breeders come with clearly written health records and permission to contact the breeder should there be a question. And even better, breeders certified by the Veterinary Council for Breed Stewardship are required to vaccinate and deworm their puppies and breeding stock according to the same standards recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association.

By the time a new puppy who was purchased in a pet store hits middle age, there is a greater probability for them to develop problems such as endocrine diseases, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cancer. But responsible, ethical breeders provide health certificates. Many also have their breeding dogs tested and certified against various genetic disease that may be prevalent in the breed.

Puppy Behavior

Behavior problems are the #1 cause for dogs being abandoned into shelters or euthanized. Lack of socialization in the first weeks of puppyhood leads to difficulty being with people or other dogs. It also leads anxiety, OCD, and other more serious behavioral problems.. The short time being raised in a puppy mill, shipped cross-country in trucks full of other puppies, and finally spending time in the pet store leads to the canine equivalent of PTSD. Anxiety leads to fear. Fear leads to aggression. Aggression leads to bite wounds. Bite wounds lead to surrendering of animal or euthanasia.

It is not uncommon for a dog to be re-homed 2-3 times during his/her “fear stage.” When the dog finds a loving family who thinks they can handle him/her it can be too late. The PTSD is now too extreme: the dog lives above his/her respective anxiety threshold on a daily basis (i.e. in a panic state) making it unhealthy to live, which leads to abandonment or euthanasia.

Crazy Puppy from Puppy Mill. No socializationPuppies that end up in “the system” come with little to no records. This is important information for behavior management. Should a dog not have been with his/her mother the entire 8 weeks of the weaning period there is a higher probability that dog will be more difficult to house train. Instead of the normal crate-training schedule everyone uses you would need to adapt it and go about this in a completely different manner. When dogs cannot be house  trained they are surrendered quickly back to the shelter. No one wants a dog that cannot be house trained in a few weeks. In addition, these dogs often exhibit antisocial behavior at a very young age. New owners must be aware of this and be capable of working with a dog like this before accepting this type of dog into your home. But many new owners have never had a dog before and don’t know what to consider “normal” behavior.

Puppy Legalities

Legally, pet Lemon laws vary by state. If you buy a dog from a “breeder” in another state will make Lemon laws difficult to enforce. Best lemon laws only require pet store/breeder to pay up to the cost of the dog, which rarely covers medical expenses.

Responsible, ethical breeders contract their own binding documents to make sure you are covered for all genetic-related health conditions that were screened for, are asked to be notified immediately when anything happens to a dog from their bloodlines to offer support, put together a fund to raise money for you, and more. You are not alone. In addition, responsible, ethical breeders always take their puppy/dog back, no questions asked so the dogs do not end up in rescues or pet shops. Contrary to mainstream belief, they are never euthanized (although they often if they’re returned to a pet store). They are simply found a new home within the current “family network” or those who already own a dog from their bloodlines and are experienced with whatever the issue is for the return. If no one volunteers then the breeder keeps the dog.Puppy Lemon laws vary state by state

The whole pet industry is in trouble. The factors noted above lead to an increase in dogs being abandoned into shelters or rescue groups, which essentially recycles problems. We need to decrease then number of dogs being abandoned by making sure that the puppies are appropriate for the customer’s lifestyle, that the puppies are socialized to humans and other dogs, and by offering medical insurance should a dog become sick.

The task of changing the pet industry so the public can easily find great puppies from great breeders is a difficult one. But the Puppy Project, is a giant first step in stopping the dominance of the puppy mills that flood the market with poor quality, poorly socialized, often sick puppies. It will help the public, yearning to purchase a great dog that will be part of their family, make smart decisions and have a great life with the puppy they choose.





How to Distinguish a Real Breeder from a Puppy Mill

It is no secret that Puppy Mills, and pet stores, horribly mistreat dogs, breeding them in terrible conditions. The informed consumer would never intentionally put money in the pocket of people who put profit over the health and happiness of a puppy – but puppy mills thrive specifically because they make it hard to tell that their dogs have been mistreated. Even the most informed buyer could potentially make the mistake of buying a dog from one of these psychopaths. So how can YOU make sure your breeder is the real deal?

  1. Not Selling Puppies Year-Round

If someone is selling dogs year-round, that means they are breeding dogs year-round. People who breed dogs constantly are often using the same mother, forcing them to give birth multiple times a year, which is extremely unhealthy. A dog should only give birth at a maximum of once a year, and up to three times during their lifetime. Any organization selling puppies constantly is likely doing so by endangering the welfare of their dogs.

  1. On-site Visits

Not letting someone see their kennel is a HUGE red flag, for obvious reasons: If someone won’t let you see where they are breeding their dogs, they are hiding the conditions in which those dogs are bred… because those conditions are, pardon our French, absolute crap.

  1. Who is Your Veterinarian?

Any legitimate breeder will have a veterinarian – because in even the best conditions, dogs do get sick. Dogs need vaccinations, and checkups, especially during their first year. How could someone breed dogs without making sure they are healthy? By not caring whether they are healthy, that’s how.

  1. Number of Breeds

There’s no way a single breeder could accommodate five or six different breeds, including the different breed standards and needs of each individual breed. If a dog breeder is offering nine different dog breeds, run far, far away (after calling the authorities)

  1. Expert Referrals

If a breeder is the real deal, many people will have positive things to say about them. Most importantly, experts in the dog industry, including veterinarians, parent organizations, and others, will vouch for them. Expert referrals can be hard to get, which is why the Puppy Project exists. Our experts inspect every breeder that wants to list with us thoroughly, according to the specific requirements of their breed. A Puppy Project certification is the best guarantee that you are buying a happy, healthy puppy that has been treated with love and care.

What’s The Puppy Project?

The Puppy Project was created by a group of people passionate about one goal: improving the lives of dogs. They knew that Puppy Mills and other bad actors were selling mistreated, sickly dogs, to unsuspecting customers everywhere, while cutting breeders who treated dogs properly completely out of the market. The Puppy Project fixes both problems: It connects YOU with breeders experts have inspected. This protects dog owners, dog breeders, and dogs themselves – winning for everyone.

Put simply, the Puppy Project works because it brings standards into the pet markets that were previously exploited like the Wild West, to the detriment of honest consumers and businesses. By guaranteeing the quality of your breeder, and the health of your new dog, we accomplish several goals:


1. We make sure only honest dog breeders make a profit – no more profits for those who exploit helpless puppies!

2. We save you thousands in future veterinary bills. When you buy a puppy from a pet store, you are buying a puppy that has health issues only the most trained of eyes can see. The average customer can’t always go see how their new dog was raised – by doing it for you, you get a healthy dog – guaranteed.

3. We end the mistreatment of dogs, and the scourge of Puppy Mills.


Because let’s face it: If there is an accessible, better option, nobody would put money in the pockets of Puppy Mills. The Puppy Project connects customers to those better options, ending the reign of  the merchants of evil who hurt dogs and people alike.