Online Pet Sales: The Dark Truth

By on November 16, 2016

Our friend, Mindi Callison of Bailing Out Benji, has and always will advocate for adoption and rescue of animals, especially as the number of pet store and online puppy sales increases. When a person or family looks to get their first pet, many look to resources like the web to find pet stores and even websites that sell animals. Below is her “dark truth” behind online and pet store puppy sales.

For more articles like this, check out our Puppy Mill / Advocacy page and Bailing Out Benji’s website.


There are over 10,000 puppy mills across the United States. Some of them are licensed, some of them aren’t. Almost all of them sell sight unseen through websites, forums and Craigslist.

Translation: The internet is full of puppy mills…. Don’t believe me? Google “puppies for sale near me.”

What websites popped up?

Various Breeders? ?


These are all forums for puppy mills to hock their products. By products, I really mean puppies… But puppy mills don’t view puppies (or dogs for that matter) as living, breathing souls. They see them as money, as a cash crop. Fancy websites are a front for a very cruel and inhumane industry.

Very close to home for us and Mindi are many mills that supply websites and pet stores with dogs for families trying to add a new furry friend. In this day and age, the internet is where we go to for everything. Movie times, restaurants, news, weather…. So why not use it to find an adorable new puppy? The general public doesn’t know the rules of buying from a reputable breeder: getting on a list, visiting the parents, contracts, etc. What they do know is that it is easy to click, buy and ship.

In one search, one can find over 465,000 results related to the above search terms. That is a lot of information to click through, especially for someone who just really wants to buy a puppy. As an experiment, search and click on a few breeders that appear on the first two pages of your search.

Century Farm PuppiesColdwater Kennel and Cuddles and Snuggles Place will likely appear for you as you search from here in Nebraska and Iowa.  Let’s start by talking about what these pages have in common.

  • Pictures of cute puppies (in front of blankets/tarps)
  • Health guarantee
  • Offer to ship
  • USDA License
  • Far away photos/Descriptions of their perfect farms


It sounds perfect! Those puppies all looks so adorable AND the breeders take all major credit cards. What more could a person want?

Well… Here is what they aren’t showing you.


Lots and lots of dogs. A depressing amount of dogs. Mothers birthing and losing their pups.


You see, legally, these puppy mills don’t have to disclose their actual number of dogs to potential buyers. In fact, they can keep you as far away from the property as they want (which is why they offer to ship or meet you halfway!). Now think back to those fancy websites… What didn’t they show you? Photos of the actual parents! You get so swept up in seeing the pictures of adorable puppies, that you don’t give a second thought to the parent dogs!

You also don’t see actual photos of dogs from Coldwater Kennel. See this link for a video of the actual boxes the mothers are kept in. 

Century Farm Puppies also admits that none of their puppies are raised in their home. Red flags on their and other websites include:

  •  Offer to ship/meet off site
  • Breeder sells lots of different breeds
  • Cuddles and Snuggles says right on their site that they are “not responsible for any Bills including Medical Bills  and Vet. Bills incurred by the purchaser of the dog.”
  • Always has puppies available for sale
  • Accepts all major credit cards

Century Farm Puppies admittedly sells their “cheap” dogs to a pet store in Ames. Bailing Out Benji has exposed their puppy mill before.

Also, they claim their farms have been “inspected and in good standing with the state/USDA.” Let’s not forget the very lax rules that USDA inspected kennels are required to follow:

  • Inspections are “Risk-based,” meaning that facilities that meet a certain criteria are inspected “as seldom as once every 2 to 3 years.”
  • Cage size: must be 6 inches larger than the size of the dog, on all sides
  • Up to 12 dogs can be housed in one cage
  • Dogs never have to be let out of their cages. Breeders only need to have an exercise plan
  • There is no limit to the number dogs a breeder can have—many have over 1,000
  • There is no age limit for breeding dogs. If a dog is able to produce puppies for ten years, that’s how long they could be in the facility.

For more information, click here.


So how can you avoid a puppy mill?

  1. Consider adoption first.There are thousands of puppies and adult dogs who are waiting their forever home in your local shelter or rescue! is a fantastic resource.
  2. Find a responsible breeder and visit the premises. #ShowMeTheMommy is our rule! Always always always demand to see the parent dogs.
  3. Absolutely DO NOT “rescue” a puppy mill puppy by buying him.If you are visiting a breeder and you disagree with anything that you see, RUN don’t WALK away and make sure to contact us!
  4. Don’t get a puppy from a pet store. Ever. Pet store Puppies ARE puppy mill puppies!
  5. Don’t fall for “USDA” licensed or “AKC” registered. Those aren’t safety blankets and those breeders can absolutely be puppy mills.
  6. Do your part: Help us educate about puppy mills! Share our mission and educate your friends, family and coworkers!


For more on Bailing Out Benji, check out theirr facebook page and stay up to date on all that BoB does to help the dogs trapped in puppy mills.

And don’t forget… A little bit of investigation can go a long way.


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