Despite a steep decline in our government’s oversight of businesses like puppy mills, our own work to shut down these ruthless enterprises that profit from the suffering of innocent animals continues to charge ahead. I am thrilled to report that just since the release of our seventh annual Horrible Hundred report in May 2019, six dealers featured in the report either appear to have closed down or have had their licenses revoked by their states.

Of the six, three are in Missouri and three in Pennsylvania – the states that ranked at number one and number three respectively in the report for the most problem breeders. Of the mills in Pennsylvania, one closed voluntarily and the state revoked the licenses of the two others. In Missouri, two facilities closed down voluntarily in the wake of repeated state violations and greater scrutiny, and another closed under a consent agreement.

But that’s not all. The work of shutting down more such breeders continues, and there are at least three additional pending cases with the Missouri Attorney General’s office against Horrible Hundred dealers this year.

Meanwhile, the number of localities that prohibit the sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores is now up to 316.

Two states, California and Maryland, also prohibit such sales. We have fought long and hard to help pass these laws and we also have to remain constantly vigilant to protect them, because our opponents in the pet industry have deep pockets. For instance, just earlier this week, a group of pet stores in Maryland sued the state to try to prevent its pet store law from taking effect in January.

The Maryland law covers only pet stores and does not prevent anyone from purchasing directly from a home breeder or adopting from a shelter or rescue. It is a commonsense law that would potentially prevent suffering for thousands of puppies and save lives, while stopping dubious enterprises from making money off their pain. Many responsible breeders support this law but in Maryland, the fight is being fueled by Pinnacle Pet, a massive Missouri dog broker that ships puppies to pet stores in Maryland and all over the country. Pinnacle is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Pinnacle has been mentioned in our Horrible Hundred reports in the past due to its links to Puppy Travelers, Inc., a transporter that has been cited by the USDA for trafficking puppies in filthy and unsafe conditions. The two companies were cited by the USDA for a deadly incident that occurred in September 2015 when nine puppies died after being left in an overheated transport vehicle. And Pinnacle (operating as Sobrad, LLC) was cited with a direct violation in 2018 for a very ill puppy who had not received adequate veterinary care. But Pinnacle convinced the USDA to remove both violations from its website, and the website now falsely claims that the company had no compliance issues.

Our Stop Puppy Mills campaign team is well equipped to fight these challenges, and to shine light on the coverups and obfuscation, even when it’s coming from the highest levels of government. Through research, education and outreach, and with our work to fight for tougher public policies at the state, local and federal levels, we will continue to tell the story of the animals who cannot speak for themselves.

As caring consumers, you can help stop unscrupulous puppy millers too. When buying a puppy, don’t rely on the stated “facts” about where those puppies came from, independent research is key. Please be sure to look for a dog at your local shelter or from a responsible breeder whom you meet in person. Never buy a puppy from a pet store or off a website. To keep up with what our Stop Puppy Mills team is doing, sign up for our Stop Puppy Mills Ally program and you’ll receive quarterly email updates. You can also support new policies and take action in other ways by checking out our Advocates Guide to Stopping Puppy Mills . The government may be going easier on puppy millers right now, but we – with your help – will never stop advocating for these animals.