Calling All Animal Lovers: Take “The Pet Store Challenge”
June 8, 2006

WASHINGTON — “The Pet Store Challenge” a consumer action campaign from The Humane Society of the United States, will give pet stores an opportunity to be open and honest about how and from where they get their puppies. The Challenge, which takes place from June 15 to September 15, 2006, will also empower consumers to make a difference in the lives of millions of dogs who are victims of puppy mills.

Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for companion animals for The HSUS, and a leading puppy mill expert explains, “Our goal is to stop puppy mills, the leading supplier of ”inventory” to pet stores. Pet stores often deny that they get their dogs from mills. We want to give them a chance to ”come clean” and prove it. By enlisting animal loving consumers to help implement the challenge, we are giving people a chance to save animals, and hopefully put puppy mills out of business.

Background:Most puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills — factory-like facilities, churning out purebred puppies in large numbers. Puppy mills look to make a profit; commonly disregard the dog’s physical and emotional health; and do not adhere to sound breeding practices. The result is often sick or dying puppies who suffer from genetic, mental and physical health problems that are not always immediately apparent to the consumer. Thousands of “breeder” dogs live a miserable existence in horrific conditions without hope of ever being part of a family.

The Puppy Mill – Pet Store Connection:Most pet stores are adamant that they do not support puppy mills and that the dogs they sell are strictly from “reputable breeders.” However, many people who purchase their puppy from a pet store can end up with a sick or dying animal. With some research, they will learn their puppy was indeed from a puppy mill. For those who were lucky enough to purchase a healthy dog, it is important to keep in mind that purchasing that dog makes room for more puppy mill dogs raised in horrendous conditions. Every puppy mill dog purchased ensures that the industry continues to thrive. Take The Challenge: The HSUS wants to challenge pet stores by giving them a chance to tell the truth and prove how and from where they get puppies. Anyone can participate in the challenge by taking these three easy steps:Visit and print out two copies of the Pet Store Challenge form between June 15 and September 15. Take the questionnaire with you to a local pet store, and fill it out based on information given to you during your store visit “interview” with an owner or store manager.

Mail the completed form back to The HSUS before September 30, 2006 to: The HSUS Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, 2100 L St., NW Washington, DC 20037, or fax it to 301-258-3081. Information can also be sent via email at

An Accurate and Fair Pet Store Visit:  Explain you are taking part in The Pet Store Challenge, an effort designed to find out from pet stores where they get their puppies. Do not be confrontational. You are simply gathering information. Many stores claim that animal welfare groups fabricate problems associated with pet store dogs.

Be prepared: Have two copies of the form on hand in case the owner/manager wants a copy. Bring a pen and fill it out/take notes as you speak with them so you do not forget any facts.

Be courteous: Do not visit the store during peak business hours. Find times when they are less busy so that they can take time out to speak with you. You may want to call the owner or manager in advance to arrange a time to talk about where they get their puppies.

Be diligent: If the owner or manager refuses to take The Challenge, record any information you can (there are some questions that only require a good look at the store) and still return the form to The HSUS.

Shain adds, “The HSUS is sincerely grateful to any consumer who wants to take the time to collect this information. A short visit to a pet store and filling out a brief questionnaire can truly save animals” lives. We are also very excited to give this opportunity to pet stores. We want them to prove that they do not support puppy mills. The truth will be priceless.
For more information on puppy mills

For information on adopting a dog, rescuing a purebred, finding a reputable breeder and more, visit

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation”s largest animal protection organization with more than 9.5 million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammals, animals in research, equine protection, and farm animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy and field work. The nonprofit organization is based in Washington and has field representatives and offices across the country. On the web at

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