Puppy Brokers – Bad for the Buyers, Worse for the Pups

Puppy Brokers – Bad for the Buyers, Worse for the Pups, PawFax

Pet Stores = Puppy Brokers

When you go to your local pet store, and they’ve got five or six different breeds of puppy available, it can be a bit head-scratching. How did they get such a selection? Did the store individually travel to ethical, legitimate breeders and hand-select the pups one-by-one? That seems unlikely. So how’d they do it?

That’s where a puppy broker comes in — unfortunately. 

A puppy ‘broker’ is a pet dealer who re-sells puppies that were bred by someone else. Brokers are essentially unsavory middlemen or go-betweens for puppy mills and pet stores. These brokers often travel hundreds or thousands of miles to re-sell these puppies, treating the dogs more like physical objects than living, breathing animals. Some especially heinous puppy brokers will even pose as dealers, and sell their puppies through classified ads online.

Sound sketchy? Sound unethical? 

That’s because… it is!

The Puppy Broker Pipeline from the ASPCA

Puppy Brokers – Bad for the Buyers, Worse for the Pups, PawFax

The USDA and Puppy Brokers

Brokers who sell to pet stores or other dealers are technically required to obtain a Class B dealer license (issued by the  USDA). The Class B license requires brokers to abide by humane care and handling standards. They must also provide thorough, documented tracking of their animals’ histories. It’s a good idea, in theory. But, most brokers simply don’t get a license. Instead, they pay little or no attention to the puppies’ well-being in transit. Dogs are often overcrowded in filthy conditions, without access to even the most basic veterinary care. Of course, taking this approach means higher profits for the brokers in question. 

These puppy brokers provide perfect cover for puppy mill operations. Once a puppy is sold to a pet store, that retail establishment rarely has any information about the dog’s breeder. Instead, they are left with only the broker as a point-of-contact. As well, some sites like puppyspot.com are notorious for their relationships with brokers. A 2011 lawsuit filed by the Humane Society claimed that puppyspot.com (at the time called purebredbreeders.com) operated 800 different domain names to lure in buyers.  

In their investigations, the Human Society “…found puppy-millers with USDA violations,” according to Kimberly Ockene, an attorney for HSUS. 

So just how widespread is the issue? Well, an HSUS review found more than two-thirds of puppies shipped to pet stores were sold by brokers, not breeders. The single largest puppy broker in the USA is The Hunte Corporation, in Missouri. They are believed to ship at least 80,000 puppies per year to pet stores via brokers. 

Progress is being made, though. Websites like PawFax are working directly with ethical, vetted breeders and pushing brokers out of the picture entirely. At PawFax, we put the buyers directly in touch with the breeders — no need for any middlemen or unsavory brokers. 

Learn more about PawFax

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