Best Friends Blog

Puppy parties: The latest in prime-time support of puppy mills

Who doesn’t love a pile of puppies? Who doesn’t love a pile of puppies? With all the soft fur and puppy breath, the never-ending cuteness is irresistible. So imagine being offered a chance to have a pile of puppies delivered to your door for a low price to help pump up the fun at your kid’s birthday party. You can understand how a consumer might run to the phone to place an order.

NBC’s long-running morning show, “Today,” recently featured a couple of companies that are cashing in on this new craze. (They picked up the story after a piece ran in the Wall Street Journal.) Even though some of these companies have been offering puppy parties for many years, they’ve apparently hit the mainstream and say they’re flooded with requests. For a nominal fee, you can “rent” a handful of puppies for your event. Of course, as described in the “Today” piece, the kids love it. Who wouldn’t? Who knows, you might even wind up buying a couple of doggies for the family.

OK, so puppies and kids playing on the lawn. Who would want to throw the wet Grinch blanket over that happy scene?

Well, me, actually. I don’t think there’s anything inherently bad about the idea of “renting” puppies for a party. At Best Friends, most of our animals are available for sleepovers with visitors and volunteers to the Sanctuary. They get time in a home environment, we learn more about their in-home personalities from follow-up questions, and the real world socialization is great for the dogs.

The unfortunate thing about commercial puppy parties is where these puppies are coming from and the resulting promotion of purebred animals from breeders as a preferred choice. For instance,, one of the companies featured on “Today,” is connected to Puppy Paradise, a dog and cat retailer in Brooklyn, New York.

So why would otherwise intelligent people, who likely regard the term “puppy mill” as an expletive, support this back-door connection to exploitive breeders? A couple of obvious reasons come to mind.

First, businesses like Puppy Paradise peddle the line that they only buy from breeders approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), but they fail to inform the public that the USDA allows a breeder to confine a dog the size of a beagle in a cage the size of your dishwasher for his entire life without ever setting a paw on the ground. The USDA, which also approves of factory farms and all their associated horrors, considers the animals inside mills to be livestock, not pets. But most people are unaware of this.

The other reason otherwise thoughtful parents might fall into the puppy mill web is because this sales channel is being featured on the happy-talk portion of a national morning TV show.

To say that I am disappointed to see the promotion of puppy mills on such a prominent stage would be a bit of an understatement. For many years, advocates have been fighting to help educate the public about the problems associated with this massive crisis of commercial breeding.

Some of media’s biggest names, including Oprah, have spoken out in favor of adopting animals from rescue groups and shelters. So as you can imagine, the story on “Today” has many advocates very upset. As of this writing, the thread on the show’s Facebook page has more than 1,200 comments, and counting. If you feel compelled, please add your voice to the page and let’s tell “Today” how we feel about this segment.

If we step back and look at this issue from 30,000 feet, what we see is that we are, in fact, winning this war. More than 80 communities across North America have banned the sale of dogs and cats from mills. Instead, pet stores in these communities are encouraged to offer rescued animals for adoption, animals who otherwise likely would be killed in shelters. In fact, we’re hoping to be able to announce another big win next week, so stay tuned.

Still, it’s hard to watch a story like that on national television. You realize that even with all the progress in the last decade, we still have a long way to go.

Please, always consider adoption as your first option. Together, we can Save Them All.

Love reading the Best Friends Blog? Make sure you never miss a post by clicking here to subscribe and receive every post right in your inbox.

Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Blue Belton

    Congratulations to Today Show for promoting yet another way for the unwitting to contribute to animal abuse. The general public still seems completely unaware that puppy mills are a reality and many people who do still don’t seem to believe that pet stores are selling puppies born into them. I’ve read countless glowing online reviews of some of the worst offenders. Most of the facebook puppy sellers have no place for a review whatsoever, which should speak volumes. But people still seem blind to this disgusting industry. Years go by and the animals continue to suffer behind a blanket of deceit. It’s unbelievable!
    Never mind that the puppies featured on their segment were way too young to be out and about, being handled by so many people. That, in itself, is cruelty. But what does anyone care if the puppy is injured or becomes sick and dies , since the puppy can be replaced by the next one coming off the line. Truly disgusting.

  • Dawn Nelson

    This question is for BF. Do you know how we can email or call at these tv shows to tell them how we feel about this ridiculous puppy party business? I would like to voice my opinion directly to these tv shows

  • Liz

    interesting that nbc and today were sponsoring and promoting the clear the shelters event that took place yesterday. i can understand appreciation of different animal breeds, i do not understand allowing and even promoting animal cruelty of any kind. i will most certainly be adding my thoughts to the today show facebook page link above. thank you for sharing this.

  • Mina Yindra

    As Best Friends has pointed out numerous times, puppies aren’t products. Bringing a group of puppies to parties, where there is stress, potential for infections in young immune systems, people who don’t know how to handle fragile little bodies appropriately… what couldn’t go wrong, and why would anyone support this? Please don’t fall for the “adoption” stories these puppy party groups might lull you into believing. These puppies are bred to be sold; they don’t come from loving homes with grassy fields and lots of other dogs and children to play with. They originate from cruel businesses who treat these animals strictly as commodities, to be produced as quickly and cheaply as possible. By necessity, the mills that churn them out are crammed with unhealthy, miserable breeding dogs who are kept to produce litter after litter until they can’t do it anymore, then they are “disposed of”, a euphemism for killed. If you support these “cute” ideas, you support the horror. Adopt, foster, teach your kids appropriate dog behaviors and go volunteer with the adorable little adoptables!

    • Marta Komosienski

      My fear as well Mina! Those puppies will be abused one way or another!

  • Ellie Cook

    Maybe I only heard what I wanted to but I understood that most of the puppies were from shelters and rescue groups. I would fully support that idea!!!

    • disqus_vq4KBBxN8a

      If only that were true. These puppies are from puppy mills.

    • Marta Komosienski

      Ellie a rescue group would never put puppies in this situation, they know how stressing this is for them. Besides, the risk of injuries is very big and no reputable rescue would do that to the animals.

    • Dawn Nelson

      But even IF (we know they are NOT) they were from shelters and rescue groups what happens to the puppies when they are no longer little, cute and cuddly? Do they end up back in shelters and rescues? Who watches over them at these parties to make certain they are not hurt or scared or fall in someone’s pool and end up drowning??? How old are they when they qualify to be part of a puppy party? 6 weeks…8 weeks? Too young to be sent out to be mauled by a bunch of brats! Do they get all of their vaccinations prior to being sent into strange backyards where Parvo germs might be waiting for these sweet little puppies?? Are these puppies spayed and neutered so as not to promote more unwanted puppies?? Or maybe these puppy party people don’t vaccinate or neuter these puppies because they know that when these puppies are no longer cute they will just dump them back at a shelter???

  • Надежда Ярошинская

    For me it would be a personal tragedy if pup mills continue to exist! We should uproot the very notion of product meaning an animal! Buying a dog we can never be happy as his mom will remain in prison and as soon as she is not able to have pups she will be destroyed! Your precious pet could be born in jail! This thought is unbearable for a loving owner!

    • Melissa Gandee

      Very true and sad, puppy mills have to go…