90% of puppies for sale in pet stores, and nearly 100% of puppies for sale on the internet, have been born and raised in puppy mills (commercial breeding establishments that mass-produce dogs for resale). These puppies are called "purebreds" but in reality often bear little resemblance to their breed standard. Unsound breeding practices predispose puppy mill dogs to hereditary afflictions like hip dysplasia, dislocating kneecaps, seizures, eye lesions, and aggressive behavior. Life-threatening genetic conditions such as liver disease, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders can also result from careless breeding.
In spite of the pretty pictures of cute puppies, spacious farms and grassy fields you see on many internet sites, in reality puppy mill dogs live year-round in filthy, cramped cages, exposed to the elements, with little or no medical care, and insufficient food and water (canine-world.com/mills.html). The females are bred incessantly, and at the end of their reproductive years the breeders frequently shoot them and toss them into a dumpster. Brokers pick up the 8-week-old puppies, place them in small cages and transport them by van, truck or airplane to pet shops and unsuspecting consumers throughout the United States and Canada.
Pet shops charge exorbitant prices for puppies, and earn huge profits because of substantial markups. Their business depends on impulse buyers who know very little about dogs. Furthermore, the American Kennel Club (AKC) registration papers that usually come with purebred pet shop puppies often impress buyers and provide a false sense of security. AKC registration does not guarantee proper breeding conditions, health, quality, or lineage. On the contrary, the AKC derives a significant percentage of its revenue from the registration of puppy mill litters.
Pet shop puppies commonly have worms, upper respiratory infections, ear and eye infections, mange, coccidia, or giardia. Sick puppies, even those with distemper or parvo, often share cages with well puppies.
While some puppies may seem healthy at the store, disease symptoms sometimes do not appear for several weeks. There are a number of genetic defects where symptoms do not emerge for months or even years. New owners can incur large veterinary bills; however, pet shop warranties usually preclude reimbursement for veterinary expenses. The standard recourse for a customer who has purchased a sick puppy is to return the puppy for credit towards another dog. Yet most customers become emotionally attached to their puppies and will not return them.
Two days before Christmas, Rhonda Lewis fell in love with a Cairn Terrier puppy she saw in the window of a Docktor Pet Center at a mall in Atlanta, Georgia. After she went into the store and held the puppy, she begged her husband to buy him. The next day, Rhonda's husband, Gary, purchased the puppy for the "sale" price of $499 as a Christmas present for Rhonda. They named the puppy after the Cairn Terrier in "The Wizard of Oz." Unfortunately, the Lewis' had no idea that Toto had parvovirus. After spending several days at various veterinary hospitals (the Lewis' had to shuttle Toto back and forth to several hospitals because of the holidays), Toto died New Years Day.
If you want to purchase a purebred puppy, please only deal with reputable breeders (Helpful Info).
"Why can I adopt a dog from a shelter for $37, and it costs $250 to adopt from a rescue organization?"
We highly encourage you to visit the shelters to find a dog if you (1) do not have another animal, (2) don’t have children, (3) are looking to save a life, and (4) have the means to handle any medical expenses that might arise. However, if you do not fit into these categories, we recommend going through rescue.
When you get a dog from a shelter, you have no information about the dog’s behavior, personality, or medical status; you don’t know if the dog is good with other dogs, kids, people, cats, or any other issues the dog might have. One of the benefits of adopting from a rescue is that we evaluate the dog and can provide you with a good deal of this information and help you find the best match for your family and your lifestyle.
Additionally, when you get a dog from the shelter, it is usually in pretty poor condition. At the very least, it's going to need a good grooming and flea/tick treatment. Dogs may have a simple case of kennel cough or something more serious… you never know. When you get a dog from rescue, we do everything possible to make sure the dog you adopt is in good health. We are forthcoming with any medical issues that we are aware of, and we complete any treatment or surgical procedure that is necessary prior to adoption. The truth is, you can pay that $37-$150 shelter fee… and end up spending far more than $250 by the time you're through. In the long run, rescue is a bargain!