Do All Puppies Come From Puppy Mills?

Conscientious animal lovers are committed to help put an end to puppy mills whenever they can. One of the most effective ways to put puppy mills out of business is to avoid pet stores that get their puppies from these abusive dog breeding kennels. But this doesn’t mean that you have to avoid pet stores […]

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Conscientious animal lovers are committed to help put an end to puppy mills whenever they can. One of the most effective ways to put puppy mills out of business is to avoid pet stores that get their puppies from these abusive dog breeding kennels. But this doesn’t mean that you have to avoid pet stores altogether. The fact of the matter is that not all pet store puppies come from puppy mills.


In this article, you’ll learn how to spot a pet store that sells puppy mill puppies. We’ll go over the green lights that a pet store does not work with puppy mills, as well as the red flags that they do. We’ll also lay out information about how to research a pet store and the dog breeders they use in order to determine for yourself whether or not they’re responsible breeders or unethical abusers of puppies. 

Let’s get started. 


Petland Kansas City put this article together to empower you with the knowledge that you really are in control of whether or not you take home a puppy mill puppy. All it takes is asking questions, verifying the answers you get, going with your gut, and ruling out any pet store that is unwilling to be transparent about the dog breeders they work with.

In other words, the biggest indication that a pet store is ethical, responsible, and only works with dog breeders that have the highest standards of animal care is that the pet store is transparent. 

Here is a list of things the pet store should be transparent about:

  1. An ethical pet store will tell you the dog breeders they work with, providing those breeders’ names and contact information
  2. An ethical pet store will show you pedigree paperwork that includes the parent dogs’ information, up to the 3rd generation, i.e. the puppy’s great grandparents
  3. An ethical pet store will have at least one veterinarian and will be willing to let you know who that vet is and that vet’s veterinary business info
  4. An ethical pet store will provide paperwork showing the vaccinations that the puppy has had, and records of any prior illnesses and treatments that the puppy may have had at the pet store or prior while at the breeding kennels

If you speak with a pet store that will not provide the information above or seems shady about their answers, giving only vague responses that you can’t verify, then it could be a red flag that they work with puppy mills.

Pet stores that buy puppy mill puppies function with a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude, meaning that they don’t ask their dog breeders pointed questions because they don’t want to know for sure if the breeder is an abusive puppy mill. All these pet stores care about is obtaining puppies at the lowest possible cost so that they can turn around and sell cheap puppies for a fast profit. But more on that later. 

In the following section, we will lay out additional green lights to look for if you choose to visit the breeding kennels that a pet store works with.  


Once you’ve spoken with a pet store and they’ve provided the information you asked about, then you can do one of two things. You can proceed with buying a puppy from the pet store. This is perfectly alright since they’ve supplied you with the paperwork that proves they’ve upheld high ethical standards. Or you can go one step further and check out the dog breeding kennels that the pet store said they work with. 

If you do, you’ll probably notice that ethical dog breeders are more than happy to show the general public how well they take care of their parent dogs and the litters of puppies. Ethical breeding kennels often have “open hours” where regular people like you can visit their kennels. They’ll also have websites that show videos and photos of their facilities and puppies.   

Similar to how unethical pet stores won’t answer questions, unethical breeding kennels won’t provide information to the public about how they run their facilities. So, once again, transparency is key. If you encounter a dog breeder who won’t pick up the phone when you call, won’t allow people to visit their kennels, or otherwise operate in the darkness, then it’s probably an indication that they are running a puppy mill.

Now that we’ve covered the green lights to look for, let’s go over the red flags that will alert you to a pet store that works with puppy mills. 


Unethical breeders who operate puppy mills are not transparent. They will not allow you to visit their kennels, and they aren’t forthright about the genealogical and health records of their dogs. 

When there is an intermediary between the customer and the kennel, namely a pet store, it can be a little bit more difficult to determine whether or not the actual breeders are transparent. 

Here are a list of pet store red flags that indicate the store might get their puppies from questionable breeders:

  1. The puppies are younger than 8 weeks old
  2. The puppies appear to have behavioral problems or abnormalities, such as being aggressive, disinterested, or afraid
  3. The puppies have runny noses, crusty eyes, and otherwise look unwell
  4. The puppies have not been vaccinated
  5. The puppies have not been microchipped
  6. The puppies are “cheap” 
  7. The pet store cannot or will not provide pedigree paperwork
  8. The pet store will not tell you the breeders they work with
  9. The pet store has been sued in the past and / or the pet store has lawsuits pending against it, or claims filed with the Better Business Bureau 
  10. The pet store has negative online reviews that state customers bought sick puppies from them

Our greatest advice to you when you’re looking into a pet store is to ask questions, research, and try to keep a level head. This means, until you have confirmed through research that a pet store is ethical, do not go into the store to meet the puppies. The fact of the matter is that puppies are so adorable that they can cloud your judgment and cause you to want to take them home even if you haven’t yet verified that the pet store is ethical. 


Petland Kansas City only works with dog breeders who uphold our very high standards of ethics and treatment of animals. The Petland Cares page of our website lists the breeding kennels we work with. On this page, if you click on the link, Where Do Our Puppies Come From? you will see detailed information about the standards we hold our breeders to. We also publish the location and contact information of our breeders, all of which have open door policies that enable you to stop in and see their puppies!  

For your reference, our ethical kennels are:

Cloveridge Kennel is family-owned and operated by the Mullet family in southern Iowa. The Mullets all help out with the care of each adult animal in their kennel, raising and socializing the puppies and introducing them to new surroundings, toys and surfaces, like their huge outdoor play areas!

Daynes Ridge Kennel is the labor of love for Jeremy Rogers and his daughter, Payton. They have been breeding and placing puppies in loving homes for over 15 years. The Rogers’ raise Bernese Mountain Dogs, English Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs. Jeremy and Payton are so proud of their state-of-the-art kennel, they allow visitors at any time. 

Oak Ridge Kennel is family-owned and operated by the Yoder family of Seymour, Iowa. Levi and Wilma Yoder, along with their seven children, began raising puppies with a pair of pet Shetland Sheepdogs, and their passion for breeding was born! In 2015, they built an impressive breeding facility for breeding Shetland Sheepdogs. In 2016, they added a large outdoor yard for the dogs to run and play in the lush, green grass.

Stoney Creek Kennel is family-owned and operated by the Troyer Family of Bloomfield, Iowa. They raise Siberian Husky puppies, English Bulldog puppies, and Pomsky puppies. Their dream has always been to have a state-of-the-art, dog-friendly facility to attract both visitors and friends. And they realized this dream in 2015 when they built their facilities. Stoney Creek Kennel works hard to raise top quality, healthy, and socialized puppies that are ready for their new home with you.


From everyone at Petland Kansas City, we hope this article was helpful at empowering you to determine which pet store to get your next puppy from. If you would like to learn more about the breeding kennels that we work with, you’re welcome to contact us, or stop in our Overland Park location to speak with our knowledgeable pet counselors about the standards of care we require! 

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