It's the time of year when we fire up our computers, scour the web for deals and make our way through our holiday gift list, using the Internet as Santa's helper. Personally, if I can avoid crowded shopping malls and have all of my presents delivered right to my front door with a few clicks on Amazon, I consider the holiday shopping season a success.
However, there's one thing the web is no good for: an online puppy shopping spree.
A new report from the International Fund from Animal Welfare finds that puppy mills are doing big business over the Internet. The report claims that hundreds of thousands of puppy mill puppies are advertised every day online.
Investigators from the animal rights group and volunteers tracked ads on six high-volume puppy sale websites -- Animaroo, DogsNow, NextDayPets, PuppyFind, PuppyTrader, and TerrificPets -- and three sites that sell puppies in addition to other goods -- Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, and Oodle. Investigators then spent two months analyzing the collected ads. They found 733,000 puppies for sale out of nearly 10,000 puppy ads. Investigators determined that 62 percent of those ads were from puppy mills.
“The Internet is the Wild West of puppy mills. It’s a 24-7 unmonitored, anonymous marketplace, the world’s largest marketplace. It’s very difficult to monitor and therefore easy for sellers to circumvent laws," Jeff Flocken, director of the IFAW office in Washington, told The Huffington Post.
So, how can potential pet parents be positive you aren't buying from a puppy mill?
- Obviously, don't buy from the sellers listed above.
- Never buy a puppy without seeing where they and their parents are raised and housed with your own eyes.
- Do your research about your seller. Do they offer special pricing for Christmas or Easter? Do they advertise more than 20 dogs at a time? These are tell-tale signs of puppy mills.
- Don't be fooled by common claims made by pet stores. Despite what they may tell you, pet stores do sell puppy mill puppies.
- Consider adoption. This is the best way to ensure you don't bring a puppy mill dog into your home. Want a particular breed? There are breed specific rescue groups for just about every breed of dog available today, including "hybrids" like Labradoodles. Plus, don't rule out mixed breeds; they make great pets!
- Pledge to help stop puppy mills. Find a local organization like The Puppy Mill Project and donate your time to help educate others about the horrors of puppy mills.
The Internet can be a valuable tool when searching for a dog to add to your family. I actually scoured Petfinder every day when I was looking for my puppy match earlier this year. But use your online savviness for good! How can you help spread the word about puppy mills? Post your suggestions here.