HSUS asks federal consumer protection agency to crack down on deceptive advertising of puppy mill puppies
Puppy sellers routinely use deceptive practices to lure consumers into buying sick puppy mill dogs – practices we recently documented in our 10-year Puppy Buyers Complaints report. This week, taking our battle against these puppy sellers one step further, we filed a legal petition with the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency tasked with preventing deceptive business practices, asking it to stop puppy sellers from using misleading advertising to attract unsuspecting buyers.
Pet retailers often falsely assure consumers that the puppies they offer for sale are raised in reputable or humane breeding facilities, even when they come from inhumane facilities like mass production puppy mills. Sadly, this widespread practice continues without any repercussions to the sellers. At the Humane Society of the United States we hear every year from thousands of devastated consumers who bring home a dog only to have the animal fall sick and, in some cases, even die.
Our Stop Puppy Mills campaign’s 10-year puppy buyer complaint report detailed several such cases of consumers duped by puppy sellers. Last month, we also released our sixth annual Horrible Hundred report which highlighted numerous inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities that serve as a source of puppies for the pet trade. Common deceptions include offering a “health guarantee,” advertising certain breeds of puppies as “hypoallergenic,” or representing certain breeders as “local” without verifying where they really are.
Puppy mills, designed for maximum profit, raise animals in extremely poor conditions and as a result these facilities become incubators for major illnesses. Just recently, an antibiotic resistant strain of campylobacter linked to a chain of pet stores started an outbreak that sickened dozens of prospective pet buyers.
The Humane Society of the United States has been working to end this disreputable practice on many fronts, including by assisting consumers harmed by these deceptive tactics and trying to prevent consumers from falling victim to them in the first place. Our legal team has assisted dozens of consumers across the country in filing lawsuits against unscrupulous puppy sellers.
We also have a training program to alert consumer protection agents at attorneys general offices to the deceptive practices that so often violate state consumer protection laws and lead to heartbreaking outcomes for both puppies and pet owners. We have assisted and supported hundreds of communities and two states in banning the sale of commercially raised puppies in pet stores.
Despite all of our efforts, however, pet sellers continue to find ways to get around these laws and deceive consumers. In Chicago, for example, where pet stores can only sell puppies sourced from shelters or rescues, some pet stores are now being supplied by “rescues” that have close ties to the commercial dealers the city has banned. We are working with the city to address this issue. We also continue to hear from heartbroken puppy buyers who believe they were tricked into purchasing a sick puppy.
Ensuring that puppy retailers are not advertising falsely is the FTC’s job, but the agency has been silent on the retail pet sales issue and has done nothing to address consumers’ grievances when the “product” is a pet. With our legal petition, we are asking that the FTC step in and do what it’s supposed to do: protect millions of potential consumers who are being duped by pet retailers when all they want to do is bring a new family member home.
If you believe you have been tricked by the deceptive practices of the retail pet industry, submit a complaint to the FTC and ask them to help stop these practices. You can also report your story to us by filling out our Puppy Buyer Complaint Form.