Was Your Rescue Dog Really Bought from a Puppy Mill?

“Adopt, don’t shop” is the mantra of animal lovers who don’t want to support cruel puppy mills. But according to a recent disturbing Washington Post story by Kim Kavin, some rescue groups and shelters may be purchasing their dogs from puppy mills.

At auctions where no cameras are allowed, bidders associated with nearly 90 animal rescue groups and shelters in the United States and Canada have purchased puppies and dogs from commercial breeders. The auctions are held in Missouri, which is home to many puppy mills.

Some of the dogs up for auction are from breeders on the Humane Society of the United States’ Horrible Hundred and ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies lists of the worst of these facilities.

Since 2009, these bidders have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies, based on documentation Kavin obtained from an industry insider. Kavin is the author of the book, The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers.

On their websites, the majority of these rescues and shelters deceptively advertised the dogs as “rescued,” while 20 referred to them as “puppy mill rescues” or “auction rescues.” Only 10 of the 86 rescues and shelters acknowledged online that the dogs were bought at auction.

The rescue groups and shelters that buy these dogs may believe they’re doing the right thing by sparing them from terrible living conditions and being repeatedly bred.

But what they’re actually doing is encouraging these facilities to produce more dogs, and it’s creating a seller’s market, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club told the Washington Post. In fact, some facilities breed dogs specifically for these auctions, according to Will Yoder, a breeder of Cavalier King Charles spaniels.

“It’s a huge, huge underground market,” Yoder told the Washington Post. “It’s happening at an alarming rate.”

At one auction, Yoder bought two Cavaliers for $7,500, then sold them an hour later to a rescue group representative for $10,000 each.

This all started rather innocently over a decade ago, when some rescuers would pay a small amount for breeders’ dogs that were old, sick or otherwise unsellable.

“These dogs were going to be disposed of or, at best, dumped in an overburdened rural pound where they faced almost certain death if not for the intervention of organizations like National Mill Dog Rescue that pioneered this channel of compassionate rescue,” writes Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “We bought 10 dogs slated to be euthanized at the end of the day for a penny apiece.”

But over the years, as the number of pets in shelters is decreasing thanks to no-kill initiatives (although more than 4,100 dogs and cats are still euthanized every day in the U.S.), some rescuers are now buying the unwanted dogs of commercial breeders.

And as more and more cities ban the sale of commercially bred dogs in pet stores, breeders are now making much of their profits from these rescuers.

How do you know if the dog you adopted was saved from a high-kill shelter or purchased from a breeder? Be sure to ask the rescue organization exactly how they obtained the dog.

Hopefully the Washington Post story won’t discourage anyone from adopting a pet from a rescue organization. There are thousands of pet rescue groups in North America. Most of them offer dogs that were rescued from shelters, owner surrendered or strays.

If you want to be absolutely, positively certain you’re rescuing a shelter dog, go to your local shelter and save a life.

Photo credit: KIMDAEJEUNG

81 comments

hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN hEARFIELD1 months ago

tyfs

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago

TYFS

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Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

You have to be so careful now days. That puppy pic is adorable.

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Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarlo2 months ago

sometimes there is just a crisis of common sense.

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JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris2 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Adopt dont shop Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Great infomation and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Petition signed and shared Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Very interesting Thank you for caring and sharing

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