Buyer Beware: The Dark Truth About Online Pet Sales

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

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

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. We are starting a new educational series “Buyer Beware”, where we focus on exposing online puppy mills as just that. Fancy websites that are a front for a very cruel and inhumane industry. Not only will this educate a few people about how easy it is for puppy mills to lie, BUT anytime anyone searches for these breeders in particular, our articles will pop up 🙂 And hopefully catch a few more potential puppy buyers. 

(*cough*… Puppy Mills…. *cough*….)

For our first edition of “Buyer Beware” we wanted to start close to home and we wanted to start by showing how easy it is to get wrapped up in the puppy mill world when trying to add a new furry friend to your family. 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. So I started from the beginning. 


In less than a minute I was given 465,000 results. That is a lot of information to click through, especially for someone who just really wants to buy a puppy. So, for good measure, I clicked on a few breeders that appeared on the first two pages. 

I found Century Farm Puppies, Coldwater Kennel and Cuddles and Snuggles Place…. 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. 


44 adults, down from over 75



Lots and lots of dogs


A depressing amount of dogs… 

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! 


Actual photos of dogs from Coldwater Kennel. In the metal kennel to the right are actual boxes the mothers are kept in.  Follow this link to see a video from inside Coldwater Kennel.


Century Farm Puppies also admits that none of their puppies are raised in their home. 

Now lets look at some of the red flags on those websites. 

√ 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. We have also exposed their puppy mill before.

√ Inspected and in good standing with the state/USDA

On top of the things they aren’t showing you and the numerous red flags, lets 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! 


Stay tuned for the next edition in our Buyer Beware chronicles! Until then, don’t forget to check out our facebook page and stay update on all that we do to help the dogs trapped in puppy mills. 

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