What Happens to the Puppies?

You may have asked yourself “What happens when Pet Stores do not sell the puppies?”, I am going to tell you the true answer, but first let me tell you the wrong answer.

The wrong answer is one given when somebody recently posted this question on the Internet (no surprise getting the wrong answer on the Internet). The question asked “What happens to the puppies that Pet Stores cannot sell?”. One person replied that they had asked this at a store and were told “We take them back to where we get them and they euthanize them.”.

Now, I have to tell you, in all my years in the pet industry I have never once heard of this happening – and logically it wouldn’t ever happen, here is why:

  1. Pet stores pay for pups, then pay to have them vaccinated, checked and wormed.

  2. Pet stores then greatly inflate the cost of the puppies, knowing that if one doesn’t sell quick they can lower the price many, many, times before reaching a point where they are not making profit.

  3. Some pet stores are part of a chain, if a pup doesn’t sell in one location, they can move it to another.

  4. If they could not sell a pup, even for a break even price, they would rather give it away, than return it to their supplier, because eventually a supplier would not be willing to work with that store if they kept getting unsold pups returned.

  5. If they needed, for any reason, to return the pup to their supplier (generally a Puppy Mill) the supplier would NOT euthanize it, they would use it as a breeding animal themselves. The suppliers are in the business to make profit by breeding animals, euthanizing animals is not profitable.

  6. A veterinarian would not be so willing to euthanize puppies left, right, and sideways, simply because it did not “sell”, there are plenty of rescue groups that willingly take small dogs, which most pet store pups are.

  7. Even in cases where pet stores get pups from animal shelters (see below) they are not automatically euthanized when returned to a shelter. Shelters give puppies a long time to get adopted, the stay at the pet store might only be a small part of their time up for adoption. Once a shelter has had a puppy vaccinated and so forth, they are in no rush to kill it.

Very likely the pet store employee was telling the girl this fib in an effort to get a sale. By making the person feel like pets’ life is in danger, they force the person to make a rash decision, “Buy the puppy.”.

Pet Stores are not highly ethical, they don’t do home checks to make sure the animals are well placed, they let people pay for pets on “credit”, they seldom talk people out of buying a breed not suited for their lifestyle or one with loads of health problems, and they buy from unscrupulous breeders known as “Puppy Mills”. Puppy Mills breed over and over for the purpose of profit, in some of the worst cases the dogs live in cages stacked on top one another, breeding over and over, living in filth, until they can no longer reproduce.

A reputable breeder would not sell to a store, nor would they need to hide anonymously, using a store to sell the pups. A reputable breeder always has a waiting list of names of people wanting pups before even breeding their dogs, and potential buyers can see, at least, the mother dog.

Pet Stores deny using puppy mills, but who else would sell to a store? Who else would need to? When people buy from stores they support the industry of breeding dogs (or other animals) only for profit. You can not truly be assured of the facilities the animals come from, no matter what the store says, again who else would sell to the store? Any one who has invested money into the pup would not sell it cheap enough for the store to make decent profit.

So to put an end to puppy mills people are being told to stop buying pups from pet stores. Equally they are told to stop buying other pets too, most of whom are bred in mass warehouse type situations. So if everyone stopped buying from pet stores what would happen to the puppies?

Cute Puppy, picture from Wikimedia.

Here is what will really happen to pups if nobody buys them:

  1. The price is lowered, and lowered, and eventually the store will give it away.

That is it; a Store isn’t going to pay to have it put to sleep. If nobody buys a puppy from a pet store, they will give it away. If this happens enough, the store will realize that selling puppies just is not profitable, and will stop. However, typically some person thinks they are “saving” the puppy, and buys it. Thus the cycle continues.

Some stores have already discontinued selling pups because of public outcry, to keep up their image, and save expenses, many have turned to housing animals that are owned by the local animal shelters. While in theory this is good, and hopefully the animals get homes. It is stressful for the animals to be in a store situation. Sometimes, although Pet Stores often get the food donated, they even charge the shelter for providing this service, all the while they come out looking squeaky clean. Some big box stores use this tactic as a way of saving money, and risk, by not having to invest anything in buying puppies initially. Ideally a person looking for a “pet” would check the shelter first, the store that houses other shelter animals would be checked second, and pet stores who sell pups themselves would never be looked at.

The only time a pet store would spend money on a pup for euthanasia is if the pup was sick.

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  1. Jasin

    On December 5, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Great article.

  2. Darla Smith

    On December 5, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I’ve often wondered about that myself.

  3. Will Gray

    On December 5, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I am so glad they do not put them to sleep! Thanks for sharing!

  4. clay Hurtubise

    On December 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Now that’s why we have had five ‘rescue’ dogs over the last dozen years or so. We broke down once and bought from a store, but we will never do it again.
    Thanks,
    Clay

  5. Ruby Hawk

    On December 5, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I feel so sorry for the little dogs in a Pet Store. Fastened in those small cages and they just look pitiful and lonely. Your article is well written and informative, Take care,Ruby

  6. Gabriel Knight

    On December 5, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    This is a great article. I like the fact that you answered the question, essentially ‘defending’ the stores, but in fact you are against these stores. The honesty is greatly appreciated.

  7. Lies.

    On December 6, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Care to explain how a dog that is returned to the mill will be used as a breeder, if they were fixed as per the law?

  8. eddiego65

    On December 7, 2008 at 12:06 am

    An eye-opening article! Thanks!

  9. Josy

    On December 7, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Thank you so much for clearing the air and explaining the truth. People really need to know how they are helping to keep these horrific puppy mills in business, every time they purchase a pet from a store rather then adopting. The amount of animals being dropped off at shelters world wide, has been sadly inclining due to our present economical situation.

    So if you are interested in obtaining a pet, please adopt and NEVER purchase animals from a pet store.

    Thank you so much and God Bless.

  10. Brenda Nelson

    On December 7, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    to “Lies” commenter 37

    there is NO law that says a dog cannot be returned from the pet store to the breeder, there is NO law that says pets sold by pet stores must be “Fixed”

    not in Canada, not in USA, and not in any country I am aware of.

    even shelters often have contracts saying pets must be fixed, but some sneak through and the new owners do not get them fixed.

  11. Sheila

    On December 14, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    In my opinion, People should not be aloud to breed, or at least, only if they have a license and only a maximum amount of breeders per type. We are so over populated with dogs in the dog pound. Yes, even expensive dogs that have/had papers are in there. They get lost, the owners don’t go to the pound or they just forget about it.
    We adopted ono of our dogs from the pound and we love him soooo much. We will NEVER buyer from a breeder. We will always adopt from the pound. The way I see it is, we just saved a life of a scared little dog or big dog.
    http://www.skepticalbeliefs.com

  12. PR Mace

    On December 16, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I hate to see puppies in a pet store. Most stores around here only have shelter dogs and puppies. I just wish I could save them all.

  13. erica

    On April 22, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    i think Puppy Mills are evil and i’ve bought only once from a pet store but now that i know the truth i adopt only from pet rescues.

  14. Bailey Thompson

    On August 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Another great article. I actually have wondered the same thing, but you brought up some very interesting points.

  15. MartineP

    On March 5, 2010 at 6:33 am

    The pet store I worked simply starved pups they could not sell. I know from other people who worked there.
    My department was the aquariums. I took out at least 20 dead fish a day and the only thing the boss could say is: what a loss of profit.
    I asked if I could feed them more regulary, because as soon as a fish died, I had to take it out, because the other fish started eating it, also in species that are not carnivous.
    When I was taking out a dead fish in one aquarium, another died elsewhere. I was busy all day this way and one of the aquariums was leaking.
    The floor was extremely slippery, so I put a rag there to make sure clients did not fall. My boss fired me, since he considered this rag on the floor bad for the store reputation.
    Is a costumer with a broken limb not a worse one?

  16. das

    On November 28, 2011 at 6:58 am

    No profit for euthanizing? That is the most naive thing I’ve ever heard. There are hundreds of millions in the euthanizing side of the conveyer belt. Just ask the makers of Fatal-Plus. Just ask PETA or HSUS who pull in hundreds of millions annually just to turn around and euthanize anywhere from 60-95% of all the dogs and cats they bring in. HSUS earned 34 million in 2005 from huricane katrina and spent only $5mil because they sent the rest of the animals, the vast majority of them in fact to high kill shelters to be killed….. running off with a profit of $29 million and futher enriching Vortech Pharmaceuticals.

  17. Fingh

    On February 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Mostly an excellent article, but I don’t like the generalising of “pet shops”. There are some good, even great pet shops out there. The bad ones give all pet shops a bad name. “Most” ethical pet shops do not sell puppies & kittens however!

  18. M

    On April 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Fingh, there is no such thing as an “ethical” pet store. Adoption is the only ethical option.

  19. M. Anderson

    On April 12, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I agree with DAS, above. Euthanasia is BIG business for the pharma companies supplying the euthanasia meds. Even the animal shelters that STILL gas, those companies still make a fortune.

  20. yaz

    On April 13, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Das has missed the point. Euthenization has no profit for the breeder or the store. Yes PETA kills pets but that had nothing to do with breeders and pet stores. Yes pharma makes money off of euthanasia and yes every puppy mill pet store dog adds to the kill list at the local shelter thus adding to the pharma profit. Again though true not related to this story.

  21. rugbymom

    On April 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Please start boycotting Amish and Mennonite Farmers markets! Pennsylvania is the puppy mill capital of the east coast thanks to them. They see the dogs as crops nothing more nothing less. The conditions they keep the dogs in is horrendous. Hit them in the pocketbook and force them to shut down. Never buy a dog from them! They are usually sickly and have many genetic disorders

  22. shaycvs

    On April 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you for posting this article. I have always wondered what happened to the pups.

  23. Linda C

    On May 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I understood also that a broker will come in and take “leftover pups” to laboratories which to me is almost unthinkable. Is this so?

  24. kelbel

    On May 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    yes RUGBYMOM! you are COMPLETELY CORRECT. i am from PA…..so i detest the despicable amish. they treat their horses (all their animals) and women & children with the same lack of respect for life. I WOULD NEVER, EVER GIVE THE AMISH MY BUSINESS, and anyone who does (whether they like to believe it or not) is contributing to animal suffering and death.

  25. Troo

    On May 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Great article, very informative.

    However, I disagree with your constant use of the term “euthanasia”.

    The word euthanasia means that the animal is being gently, humanely put down. I can guarantee that puppy mills do NOT euthanise their rejects, they kill them by any method available, no matter how painful to the animal: shooting, drowning, dropping rocks on the head, smashing the head against a wall or the ground, chopping off the head with an axe, electroshock, etc etc.

    Using the term “euthanasia” legitimizes these deaths as being gentle and peaceful, when they are nothing of the sort. Why would a puppymill suddenly care about the wellbeing of an animal just because it’s been returned from a pet store?

  26. marilyn ball

    On June 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

    how do you know whos telling the truth this days and this goes to troo on the 30th may who posted some awful things which are shocking to write about and if this is true why is this not being stopped by our so called nation of animal lovers do something about this NOW

  27. ResueMe

    On June 15, 2012 at 11:15 am

    how do you know whos telling the truth this days and this goes to troo on the 30th may who posted some awful things which are shocking to write about and if this is true why is this not being stopped by our so called nation of animal lovers do something about this NOW

  28. Cody

    On August 13, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Hi Brenda –

    Thanks for the article. As a former animal cruelty investigator, I’ve spent a lot of time working with dog breeders and retailers, and feel the need to clarify some potential inaccuracies in your article.

    Regarding #4, pups commonly get returned to a breeder if they have a visible physical ailment – usually a limp, a sore, or an eye infection. This usually means they get picked up during the next delivery cycle and shipped in a filthy van back to the breeder. In New York, where I’m from, that meant a 1,000 mile drive back to Missouri.

    As for #5, returned pups will almost never be recycled as breed stock. That’s because these pups aren’t breed quality stock – their parents weren’t paired for that purpose. That’s especially true these days, when more and more pups are “designer” mixes like cock-a-poos, etc. Even if they were good stock, taking in more breeding pairs would mean other, substantially higher more capital investments for the hundreds of puppies that would ensue (I’m thinking of housing, vaccinations, registration, etc.). From what I’ve seen, puppy millers will either euthanize an unwanted litter, or give them away for free if they can find people. Usually it’s the former, since the latter is not always available, and in any event would cut into their demand.

    On that note, #6 is also not quite accurate – most commercial vets will do whatever their client asks (within the bounds of the law), including killing dozens of healthy pups. Numerous breeders have told me they do this. From what I’ve seen, being a vet does NOT mean that a person love animals.

    I agree that for seemingly healthy dogs, the price is usually lowered until a buyer is finally found, but there’s always some that can’t sell. I investigated a shop in Queens where the owner turned out to be a hoarder – he was permanently warehousing his unwanted dogs in cages in the basement, like out of some messed up horror movie. I don’t suggest that’s the norm, but it gives you some insight into how screwed up these pet retailers can be. That’s why I’m so glad that you encourage people to rescue and adopt, and never ever by from a pet store, online retailer, or any other breeder.

  29. Emm

    On September 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Cody has the most accurate post on here. I appreciate the time to write the article and to inform people but this article is naive and way off in regards to shelters.
    I live in NY state and animal shelters in the U.S. that are in large metropolitan areas and rural, that have too many dogs will euthanize a dog ANY age. If a dog is particularly nice, the shelters in NYC send out an email extolling the virtues of the dog and try to find placement with a rescue.
    Many pet store ‘rejects’ if you will, end up dead.
    Also as others have posted the Amish run puppy mills and the dogs are often sickly and have genetic defects.
    Adopt a mutt from a shelter and you will usually end up with a healthier dog with a better temperament.

  30. Emm

    On September 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Cody has the most accurate post on here. I appreciate the time to write the article and to inform people but this article is naive and way off in regards to shelters.
    I live in NY state and animal shelters in the U.S. that are in large metropolitan areas and rural, that have too many dogs will euthanize a dog ANY age. If a dog is particularly nice, the shelters in NYC send out an email extolling the virtues of the dog and try to find placement with a rescue.
    Many pet store \’rejects\’ if you will, end up dead.
    Also as others have posted the Amish run puppy mills and the dogs are often sickly and have genetic defects.
    Adopt a mutt from a shelter and you will usually end up with a healthier dog with a better temperament.

  31. wendy

    On September 28, 2012 at 10:23 am

    there were so many inaccuracies and fallacies in this article but that has already been pointed out. this article could do more harm than good!

  32. Angela Himmeroder

    On January 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    This is why it should be illegal to sell puppies in pet stores. Leave the breeding up to professional reputable breeders. They even re-home older dogs to responsible pet owners

  33. Kathy

    On January 31, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Euthanize? No where do I see if this is done humanely. There’s a pet store in York, PA that has never been caught but people won’t return pets there because their idea of euthanization is to take puppy out back & club them to death.

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