Editor’s note: This article contains mentions of animal cruelty. 

When you buy dogs from pet stores, flea markets and online sellers, they may have been bred in a puppy mill. Puppy mills are factory-like facilities where dogs are kept in cruel, inhumane conditions and bred for profit by dog breeders.

There are currently around 2,000 licensed dog breeders in the United States. The dogs from the licensed breeders are then directly transported to the pet stores, flea markets and online sellers. 

People should opt for adopting pets through shelters rather than buying animals through pet stores, flea markets and online sellers as a means to fight animal cruelty and end the puppy mill pipeline.

The middleman in this situation are the dog brokers or puppy dealers. Right now, there are about 250 USDA-licensed puppy brokers in the United States who obtain puppies in mass quantities from breeders and either transport them themselves or will hire a driver to transport them. 

Aside from the already cruel upbringing of these animals, the transportation process is potentially worse. There are requirements for animal transporters, but they are very loose and often not followed correctly. 

An example is an incident that occured in 2019, where nine diseased puppies were seized from a transporter. The shipment came from a puppy mill in Missouri, which is a prime location in the United States for animal cruelty related to puppy mills. 

There were 21 dog breeders labelled as puppy mill facilities found in Missouri, filled with “injured and emaciated dogs, dogs and puppies exposed to extreme weather, and dogs found in filthy living conditions.”  

In 2019, Marlisa McAlmond, a dog breeder, was sentenced to thirty days in jail for killing 21 dogs and other violations of the Missouri Animal Care Facilities Act. There are many other reports similar to animal cruelty in puppy mills like this, not just in Missouri, but all across the United States. 

Adopting pets can help fight the puppy mill pipeline. 

Animals that come from shelters are often the result of being rescued from cruelty, surrendered by previous owners or found stray.

There is an overwhelming number of animals that are brought to shelters every day. In the United States, there are about 3.3 million dogs a year that enter shelters, over half of the total number of animals that enter shelters annually (6.5 million). 

By adopting an animal from a shelter, you are opening up a space for another animal in the shelter, helping prevent shelters from being overcrowded and unable to take in more animals, which can lead to having to euthanize sick or old animals. 

My family pets have never been bought from a pet store, and I still refuse to ever support any industry or seller that is linked to animal cruelty. It is not a difficult process to adopt a pet; the costs are inexpensive and oftentimes, the vaccinations, treatments and other exams are included to ensure the animal is ready to be taken to its new home.

For example, the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln lists its adoption costs for dogs between $140 and $200, including a health exam; a spay or neuter; treatment for fleas, ticks, mites and parasites; a heartworm test; a microchip if requested; rabies vaccinations and DA2PP and bordetella vaccinations. Here are some other shelters in Lincoln you can look at when adopting an animal.

Adopting a shelter pet not only fights against cruel animal breeding, but it also gives them a second chance to live a happy, loving life. 

Emerson McClure is a sophomore journalism and advertising & public relations major. Reach her at emersonmcclure@dailynebraskan.com.