While many cities are banning the retail sale of dogs in pet shops, the Internet still remains dangerously unregulated. According to a harrowing new report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, puppy mills are still doing business online. And it’s no small operation: the report claims that hundreds of thousands of puppy mill puppies are advertised online each day.
“The Internet is the Wild West of puppy mills. It’s a 24/7 unmonitored, anonymous marketplace, the world’s largest marketplace,” Jeff Flocken, director of the IFAW office in Washington, told the Huffington Post. “It’s very difficult to monitor and therefore easy for sellers to circumvent laws.”
More from Dogster Magazine: A Dog Is Killed Near Her Own Backyard by an Animal Trap
On one day in July, nine investigators from IFAW and 16 volunteers tracked ads on six sites known for high-volume puppy sales: Animaroo, DogsNow, NextDayPets, PuppyFind, PuppyTrader, and TerrificPet. They also scoured three more general-interest sites: Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, and Oodle.
They found 733,000 puppies for sale out of nearly 10,000 puppy ads. Investigators determined that 62 percent of those ads were from puppy mills. How do they determine whether an online ad is from a puppy mill?
According to HuffPo, “Investigators used a variety of factors … including if the seller screens potential owners, if puppies under eight weeks old are offered, and if the same puppy is advertised as a different puppy elsewhere.”
More from Dogster Magazine: Is It Ever Okay for a Dog to Live Outside? (Clue: No!)
Other criteria include whether sites have no-refund or -return policies, whether 20 or more puppies are simultaneously advertised, whether the seller offers registration papers, whether ads include slogans such as “Easter Pets” or “Christmas Pets,” and whether it appears that images of puppies have been digitally placed into different settings.
Flocken also said that another sign is whether the seller will let you visit the kennel: “Never buy an animal unless you can see the facility in which it was raised.”
The report went on to break down the sellers themselves, as well. Animaroo was the worst offender, with 85 percent of the ads seeming to come from puppy mills. Next was PuppyTrader (64 percent) followed by DogsNow (62 percent), NextDayPets (61 percent), PuppyFind (55 percent), and TerrificPets (44 percent).
Needless to say, you should never buy a puppy from any of these sellers.
More from Dogster Magazine: Yikes! Miley Cyrus’ Yorkie Was Killed by Her Bulldog
When confronted with the evidence, Dean Hamill, president of PuppyTrader.com, told HuffPo that he bans breeders who receive a complaint “with merit.”
“Breeders of bad reputation are usually found out quickly with this type of feedback,” he said.
He also disputed the report: “The writers even admit to the report’s likely inaccuracy by using their criteria to come to a conclusion that the advertisers were to be classified as only ‘likely a puppy mill.’”
More from Dogster Magazine: 5 Tips for Dogs and Cats Living Together in a Tiny Apartment
With the report, IFAW aims to increase consumer awareness and keep websites from posting ads from puppy mills. The group held a press conference in Los Angeles with actor Ben Stein.
“Consumers opting to purchase puppies over the Internet are duped into believing they are buying from reputable breeders,” Stein said. “The cute puppy images shown on many seller websites hide the heartbreaking reality of the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in which the dogs are housed.”
To see the full report, click here.
Photo: Homeless animals series by Shutterstock