Bought a Sick Pet Store Puppy: What Can You Do?

The face of a light tan and white puppy

Many people unknowingly buy sick puppies from America’s pet stores. It’s extremely unfortunate and happens to too many people. We want you to know that there are things you can do if you find yourself in this situation. The first and most important thing is to report your experience to the proper entities to help prevent it from happening to other customers — and to other puppies. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Contact the Better Business Bureau. You can file a complaint online with the Better Business Bureau. This is an important step to take because Better Business Bureau reports stay on file and are available for others to read. Be sure to enter the zip code of the pet store, even if it is different from your zip code.
  2. Contact the attorney general in your state. To find your state’s attorney general’s office and website, go to and do a search using the name of your state and “attorney general.” The website for your state’s attorney general should have a section with information on how to file a consumer complaint.
  3. Contact the Department of Agriculture in your state. To find your state’s Department of Agriculture office and website, go to and do a search using the name of your state and “Department of Agriculture.”
  4. Contact animal control. Animal control in the city or county where the pet store is located may or may not have jurisdiction over the pet store where you bought your puppy, but it’s always good to alert them to your situation. If you don’t know which animal control division oversees the area where the pet store is located, go to and search using “animal control” and the city where the pet store is located. If you can’t find a phone number, try calling the police station’s non-emergency number, since animal control is often a division of the police or sheriff’s department.
  5. Contact the USDA. Most commercial breeders are required to be licensed with the United States Department of Agriculture. Therefore, you can file a complaint on the USDA website.
  6. File a complaint with the breed club or registry. If your puppy came with breed registration papers, contact the registry. You might also contact the parent breed club for the breed of your dog.
  7. Contact the media. Local news agencies are always looking for human/animal interest stories, so find the website for your local news station and contact the tip line or reach out directly to an investigative reporter. Provide as much detailed documentation as you can (photos, video, receipts).