Bought a Sick Pet Store Puppy? What to Do

The face of a light tan-and-white puppy

While some pet stores work with animal shelters and rescue groups to offer animals for adoption, many still sell dogs who were bred in the inhumane conditions of puppy mills. And consequently, many people unknowingly buy sick puppies from pet stores. 

If you find yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do. In addition to getting the puppy proper care, of course, 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.

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.

Contact the attorney general in your state

To find your state’s attorney general’s office and website, search online 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.

Contact the Department of Agriculture in your state

To find your state’s Department of Agriculture office and website, do an online search using the name of your state and “Department of Agriculture.”

Contact animal services

The animal services (or animal control) department in the city or county where the pet store is located might have jurisdiction over the pet store where you bought your puppy, but it’s always good to alert them to your situation regardless. If you don’t know which animal services division oversees the area where the pet store is located, searching online using "animal services" or "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. Animal services is often a division of the police or sheriff’s department.

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.

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.

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 a reporter. Provide as much detailed documentation as you can (photos, video, receipts).