Pet stores have long been under fire for selling dogs from puppy mills. After years of protestors, petitions, boycotts, and angry animal rights activists, some are starting to make serious changes. The latest trend is for retailers to shift from stocking their shelves with mistreated puppy mill pups to filling their shops with adoptable dogs from high kill animal shelters instead. Many of these transformations are being done through the help of animal advocate organizations such as Pet Connection Inc. and Best Friends.
Best Friends, a Utah-based animal sanctuary has single handedly helped almost 40 pet shops in the US to convert to adopt only stores through its Puppy Mill Initiatives program. In their stand against puppy mills and irresponsible breeding, the Best Friends Puppy Mill Initiatives program holds peaceful demonstrations in front of pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs. Representatives from the campaign strive to educate consumers about inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and encourage people to adopt versus purchase pups from pet stores. Best Friends launched their first Puppy Mills Initiative program in Los Angeles in 2008 and have since expanded their efforts across the country.
Pets of Bel Air, an upscale boutique pet store in Bel Air, California, was once considered the pet store to the stars, outfitting the likes of Paris Hilton with pricey teacup Chihuahuas, before being forced to close down from allegations of selling pets from 28 separate puppy mills. With the help of Best Friend, the store is now occupied by Fresh Paws of Bel Air, which is run by Ilene Katz and Linda Massaro. The stores new owners have taken a stand against puppy mill dogs and have dedicated their retail space towards their humane business model that involves finding homes for deserving shelter dogs. The boutique adopts out dogs for a fee of $495 to $650 and gives half the cost back to the shelter or the rescue organization from which the dogs came from.