How Best to Eliminate Puppy Mills? Pet Owners Prefer Tougher Breeder Standards Over Pet-Sale Bans

How Best to Eliminate Puppy Mills? Pet Owners Prefer Tougher Breeder Standards Over Pet-Sale Bans

Pet Leadership Council Releases Study Conducted by Harris Poll as it Mounts Effort to Defend Consumer Choice

(Greenwich, CT) – By an overwhelming margin, America’s dog and cat owners say the best way to crack down on illegal puppy mill operators is not to ban the sale of dogs and cats at local pet stores, as a handful of local communities have done, but rather to enact and enforce tougher breeder standards (67% vs. 33%). The Pet Leadership Council, a coalition of pet industry leaders championing responsible pet ownership, commissioned Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older to determine Americans views on puppy mill regulations.The Pet Leadership Council (PLC) is lending its support to efforts to enact tougher breeder standards with more rigorous enforcement. At the same time, the PLC is taking a lead role in a lawsuit that challenges a pet-store ban in Phoenix, Arizona. “We all want to see puppy mills eliminated today,” said Bob Vetere, CEO of the American Pet Products Association, one of the founding members of the PLC. “But America’s pet lovers have made it clear that banning the sale of dogs and cats at local pet stores is not the best way to do it. What this poll tells us is that pet owners want tougher breeder standards so that they can be confident that dogs and cats are raised humanely and in the best interests of the animal.”

Among the highlights of the poll

Nine in ten (89%) U.S. adults say the solution to puppy mills is to have tougher breeder standards that crack down on illegal operators
Four in five (81%) U.S. adults say banning dog sales entirely at pet stores will not stop puppy mills from continuing
92% of U.S. adults report follow-up visits to breeders are needed to ensure regulations are being followed to avoid puppy mills
Over six in ten (63%) U.S. adults own a pet; 59% own a cat and/or dog
“Puppy mills are an unacceptable problem. But pet-store bans like the one in Phoenix and more than 50 other communities across the country should be an unacceptable solution,” said Ken Oh, Chairman of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and PLC member.


Oh noted that pet-store bans are inadvertently driving consumers to resources supplied by the very puppy mills we ll want to end. Consumers in regions with pet-store bans are being forced to purchase from unregulated sources and here is an increase in underground – and unregulated – breeders flowing into communities.

“The only thing a pet-store ban accomplishes is putting good breeders out of business and driving more consumers to purchase pets online, which compounds the problem,” added Joe Watson, President and CEO at retailer, Petland, and PLC member. “In fact, the survey finds that nearly 9 in 10 Americans say buying a dog from an unknown breeder online is not a safe way to obtain a family pet.”

In May, it was announced that members of the PLC have collectively donated $125,000 to support the lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix on behalf of Phoenix pet store Puppies ‘N Love.

“Local policy makers should take note of the findings in this survey,” said Steve King, President of the Pet Industry Distributors Association and PLC member. “Rarely do you see 80-percent of people in America agreeing on any one issue. Yet more than 80-percent of U.S. pet owners agree banning dog sales at pet stores will not stop puppy mills. We need to crack down on puppy mills, to be sure, and the PLC stands ready to help do so. But banning pet stores and stripping consumers of their rights is not the way to do it.”

About the Pet Leadership Council

Leaders of the industries and professions that serve American pet owners have banded together to engage positively and vigorously on the overarching issues that affect the 82.5 million American households enriched by pet ownership with the formation of the Pet Leadership Council. The Pet Leadership Council members represent manufacturers, distributors, retailers, veterinarians and breeders — all of whom passionately and enthusiastically serve the cause of pet ownership and seek to improve the quality of life for pets and owners alike.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States between June 13 and 17, 2014 among 2,035 adults aged 18 and older (among whom 1,183 are cat/dog owners) by Harris Poll on behalf the Pet Leadership Council via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.