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Phoenix City Council deserves accolades for stand against puppy mills

Kari Neinstedt, Arizona state director for The Humane Society of the United States, is pictured with her dog Chase. (Photo from www.humanesociety.org)

Kari Neinstedt, Arizona state director for The Humane Society of the United States, is pictured with her dog Chase. (Photo from www.humanesociety.org)

The 6-pound dachshund named Phoenix could barely move the day rescuers with The Humane Society of the United States found him in an overcrowded puppy mill. He was paralyzed from years of neglect, and living in filth. Today, he roams around with his new owner in his wheelchair, happily enjoying his forever home. Phoenix has been renamed “Ricky Bobby” by his new owner, but his namesake city just made a decision that will make him proud. By requiring that pet stores in the city acquire dogs only from humane sources, the Phoenix City Council took an important step toward helping to protect the millions of dogs suffering in puppy mills. The ordinance will help shrink the supply of puppy mill dogs flowing into our market, thereby boosting adoptions for homeless animals and increasing sales for responsible dog breeders.

Ricky Bobby is just one of the thousands of dogs the HSUS has rescued from cruel puppy mills all across the country. Each time we join local law enforcement to raid one of these facilities, we find the same thing: dogs and puppies living in horrific conditions.  They are kept in small, wire cages for their entire lives, exposed to the elements and denied veterinary care. They are usually bred every heat cycle, and when their fertility wanes, they are discarded or killed.

Despite the claims of pet store owners, many of the dogs produced in puppy mills, like Ricky Bobby, are the ones sold in pet shops across the country. In Phoenix, three stores were contributing to the cycle of cruelty by selling dogs from infamous mills, such as those highlighted in the HSUS’ “A Horrible Hundred” report.

The Phoenix City Council deserves accolades for taking a stand against puppy mills. Phoenix joins more than 40 cities and localities throughout the U.S. and Canada that have passed ordinances prohibiting the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. The HSUS and other animal welfare organizations have been helping pet stores convert to a “humane business model.”  Instead of selling puppies from inhumane sources, the stores showcase and adopt out homeless dogs from local shelters and rescues. This not only halts the sale of puppy mill dogs, but also helps curb pet overpopulation. It also protects customers, since many of the puppies bred in puppy mills tend to be sick and prone to cost owners thousands in vet bills. We’ve heard time and time again from families who unknowingly purchased a puppy from a mill, only to have him die soon after they brought him home.

While the HSUS encourages pet adoption, we understand that some people would prefer to purchase a puppy.  In that case, we advise people to buy only from a responsible breeder who they have met in person and to see where the puppies are born and raised.  Responsible breeders do not sell to pet stores because they care about where their puppies are going. A law that prevents pet stores from selling puppy mill dogs will not affect responsible breeders. In fact, more than 200 national breed clubs specifically prohibit their breeders from selling to pet stores in their codes of ethics.

The HSUS is thrilled about the city of Phoenix’s action to protect dogs and pet shop customers. I hope many more cities in Arizona adopt similar laws. Together, we can save the lives of thousands of dogs and this change is one huge step forward.  I thank our supporters and our allies for supporting this significant step—and so do dogs like Ricky Bobby.

– Kari Nienstedt is Arizona State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.


  1. 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppy Mills

    1) There is no such thing as a “puppy mill”. “Puppy mill” is not a legally defined term, it is slang used by the “animal rights” community to denigrate any and all breeders — small or large, standard or substandard. It’s the “N-word” of breeders. The phrase “puppy mill” has been promoted in the media by the animal “rights” movement, people who want to end all animal ownership. It is applied indiscriminately by these fanatics to anyone who breeds dogs. We need to stop using the discriminatory, divisive word invented by our enemies.

    2) In our modern day of instant access to information it is almost impossible for anyone to raise dogs without being under scrutiny. Those horrendous photos you see in commercials for the “Humane Society” are mostly outdated or a 1 in one million exception to the care given animals by breeders everywhere. The photos are intended to shock and horrify you into giving money. Any photo can be photo shopped into looking really bad. Be skeptical. If you didn’t see it with your own eyes take it with a grain of salt.

    3) There are three main types of breeders: Commercial, Pet and Hobby/show breeders. Every one of these can be a large-scale breeder, every one of these could be a substandard breeder. Commercial kennels are subject to state and/or federal oversight. Substandard care can be found with all types of breeders. It is about the standard of care, NOT the numbers. Most commercial breeders have state of the art kennels that meet USDA standards and the standards of their state laws. They are inspected at least yearly and must meet or exceed standards far higher than those expected of the average hobby breeder.

    4) “Sick” puppies do not sell. It is counterproductive for any industry to produce a defective product and expect to stay in business. Any dog can have health issues. Its about Mother Nature NOT lack of care or numbers.

    5) Passing laws intended to outlaw “puppy mills” will not solve any problem. Most substandard breeders are already in violation of existing laws. New, stricter laws will only affect those who are already working to follow the laws. The only way to have any effect is to enforce the laws that are already on the books.

    6) All the hobby breeders in this country cannot produce enough puppies to meet the demands of the American market. A shelter dog is NOT for every family. Shelter dogs come with baggage that can require an EXPERIENCED owner.

    7) BREEDERS are NOT responsible for the presence of dogs in shelters. We have a problem with a lack of responsible ownership, poor shelter management and poor pet distribution. Education is the key to improvement in this area.

    For more information:

  2. Of course the Animal Rights groups are “Thrilled”, as they lie about breeders in the USA and get cities and states to shut them down they can monopolize the pet selling industry and add more money to their 401’s and salaries. If there is such a problem of overpopulation, abuse then WHY are shelters and rescues importing puppies from out of the country to sell as “Rescues” and be counted as animals going though these organizations as part of OUR (USA) overpopulation problem. They are importing from unregulated overseas breeders and getting you to fall for closing down the regulated and well cared for commercial breeders in the USA.


  3. My mother is a new resident to Phoenix and called me the other day all excited about this law. This solves no problems IMHO. 1. No REPUTABLE breeder places animals in pet stores for sale. 2. Now all of the “rescues” will be taking in pregnant dogs/cats (or having “oops”) instead of doing spay aborts.

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