This chart from Petshoppuppies shows state by state how many pet stores each state has. Very informative blog.
Pet stores vary from small "mom and pop" stores to large franchise stores, but all claim they don't get their puppies from puppy mills. Are they lying, and if so, how can they get by with lying? The truth is that most pet stores get their puppies from brokers (middle men licensed by USDA to buy and sell puppies on the wholesale level). The brokers buy their puppies from mostly USDA licensed breeders. To better understand how USDA licenses breeder and brokers, visit our page on puppy mills. While you and I may have no doubt in our minds as to whether a USDA licensed kennel can be a puppy mill, it is simply our own interpretations -- pet stores have a right to their own opinion, so technically, they have not lied to you.
Pet stores often claim they visit all of their breeder's personally. This, from our experience at PetShopPuppies, is an outright lie. If a pet store tells you this, you need to be informed and ask the right questions. How many dogs did the breeder of this puppy have? Can I have a copy of their USDA inspection? Did the puppy's parents live in the house or in kennels? Are the kennels raised wire hutches? How large are the kennels? Can you give me the breeder's phone number so that I can call them? Chances are, the pet store owner will refuse to answer any of your questions to your satisfaction.
Pet stores often have a health guarantee; there are many things you must watch for before you buy a puppy from a pet store. Will the guarantee cover ALL medical expenses, regardless of the cost? If you spend $800 on a puppy, and the puppy requires a $10,000 hip surgery, will the pet store pay for it? Will the pet store only let you use their vet? What if you don't feel your puppy is being properly cared for -- will they cover the cost of a vet of your choice? If not, why? If your puppy dies from a disease such as parvo, will the pet store refund your purchase price, or require you to get another puppy that might also be sick? If your puppy suffers from hip displaysia two years after your purchase, will they cover the cost of the surgery -- will they refund you the price of the puppy -- or will they require you to bring the 2 year old dog back to them for a new puppy? Read your guarantee carefully -- you will likely find that your choices should your puppy become ill, are not an option for you and your family. Your puppy is not a defective toaster, it is a part of your family.