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When you buy anything from a pet store that sells puppies - toys, leashes, kitty litter - it's likely that you are funding puppy mills and their cruel practices.

Unfortunately, most puppies at your local pet shop come from puppy mills, where they were bred from dogs that spend their entire lives crammed inside unwashed cages as they churn out litter after litter. At many puppy mills, when the females can no longer reproduce or when their breed goes out of "style," the dogs are often abandoned, shot, or starved until they eventually die.

Many pet stores selling puppies will say they don't buy from puppy mills, claiming that the puppies are from "USDA licensed breeders." This is a ruse, however, because the standards of care required by the USDA are woefully inadequate and are almost never enforced.

But turning from the store to the web can be just as deceiving. There are plenty of puppy mill scams online, from using the same cute stock photography over and over to posing as a rescue group or puppy sanctuary. The truth is, no reputable breeder or rescue group ever ships a puppy without meeting you first. Buying online from anyone who doesn't insist on that is likely a scam, even if the dog is considered a "purebred."

You have power with your wallet to stop puppy mills. Take the pledge to stop all purchases from pet stores selling puppies and consider adopting your next pet from your local shelter. If we can reduce demand, we may just reduce the supply of abused animals in this country and put an end to the cycle of puppy mill cruelty.

To find out which stores in your area sell puppies, check out this map on ASCPA's website:

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