Top 10 Reasons Banning "Puppy Mill" Dogs From Pet Stores Is Pointless

Dozens of cities across the country have tried to fight overcrowded mass-breeding operations — i.e., “puppy mills” — with legislation that bans commercial pet sales. These laws usually stipulate that pet stores may source animals only from shelters and rescue operations and, as such, are incredibly controversial.

Proponents say they go a long way toward stopping the inhumane breeding of animals by “cutting off the puppy mill pipeline,” while opponents — which often include local businesses and dog breeders — argue that they’re misdirected and not the most efficient way to solve the "puppy mill problem."

No one thinks puppy mills are acceptable; the question is whether these laws are the best way to combat them.

Recently, New Times wrote about a federal judge’s decision to uphold Phoenix’s law and a Tempe city councilwoman's attempt to pass a similar ordinance in her city. After we published the articles, we received a great deal of feedback from both sides.

Here are the top 10 reasons some people think the bans are a bad idea:

10. These laws end up punishing all dog breeders for the bad behavior of a few because licensed, inspected, and regulated breeders don't sell puppy mill animals.

9. These laws target puppy mills even though there is actually no legal definition for what constitutes one. It would be more effective to designate tighter breeding laws and then go after people who don't follow them.

8. You are more likely to purchase a dog with health or behavioral issues from a shelter than a pet store. What’s more, “sick” puppies do not sell, and “sick” adult dogs do not produce puppies. It would be bad business for an industry to rely on a defective product, which is why this is a hyped-up problem.

7. These laws unfairly limit consumer choice and could make it nearly impossible for a person to purchase certain less-popular breeds.

6. It would be more effective to launch a public-education campaign targeting people’s tendency purchase pets impulsively, because if fewer dogs were bought on a whim, shelters wouldn't be so full. 

5. If it wasn’t so expensive to spay and neuter animals, there would be fewer unwanted dogs — many of which often end up in shelters.

4. The puppy mill problem is an exaggerated issue that's really just part of the Humane Society and PETA's agenda to end pet ownership.

3. These laws don’t do anything besides make a few local animal advocates feel good about themselves. As one New Times’ commenter wrote, “Obtaining a dog should be a time for rational decision making, not an excuse for moral preening. If 'adopting' a shelter dog makes you feel 'better about yourself,' you don't need a dog. You need a therapist.”

2. Sometimes rescue groups bust a breeder on trumped-up charges of neglect, take all the animals, and then sell them as “rescued pets.”

1. People can still buy puppy mill dogs on the Internet from unregulated breeders or from other countries, and these laws won’t do anything to stop that.
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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser