Retail Pet Sales Ordinances

Retail Pet Sales Ordinances

When people purchase puppies from pet stores, they are often unknowingly supporting puppy mills.  Puppy mills are large-scale inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities that produce puppies in large volumes.  They are designed to maximize profits and commonly disregard the physical, social, and emotional well-being of the breeding dogs and their puppies.

What is a Retail Pet Sales Ordinance? It’s a ban that prohibits pet stores from selling dogs and cats in pet stores.  The pet store ban typically includes language that encourages pet stores to work with local shelters and rescues, offering homeless pets for adoption.

Harley’s Dream supports Retail Pet Sales Ordinances at the city, county, and state levels as a critical strategy to help stop the cruel puppy mill industry and to move our country forward toward a more humane future for our canine companions.

Help enact a Retail Pet Sales Ordinance in your community!  We can provide materials and guidance.  Send us an email at  Or join hundreds of Harley’s Dream volunteers across the country and Canada by becoming a Harley’s Hero.

IMPORTANT! Your community DOES NOT need to have a pet store selling puppies and kittens in order to establish a Retail Pet Sales Ordinance. Actually, it’s best to have the ordinance in place to prevent an inhumane pet store from moving in. Having a ban in place encourages your community to “Remain Humane”. Learn about preemptive/preventative Retail Pet Sales Ordinances.

Learn more:

  • The standards governing the care of dogs and cats in commercial breeding facilities are set forth in the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the agency responsible for overseeing the commercial dog breeding industry and enforcing the AWA.  Any breeder who wishes to sell to a pet store or to consumers over the Internet with five or more breeding females must be licensed with the USDA.
  • The AWA and USDA are not sufficient to protect dogs in commercial-breeding facilities:
    • The AWA’s standards are too minimal to ensure humane care and treatment.
    • The USDA does not effectively enforce the AWA.
    • The USDA inspection process is not adequate and inspection records are not available to the public.
  • Even if enforced to its fullest extent, the AWA only requires survival-only standards in housing facilities and care, well below what most would consider humane.  The AWA allows for significant discretion by puppy mill owners to decide what constitutes an adequate level of care for the dogs with respect to the living environment, cleanliness and sanitation, feeding, welfare, veterinary care, and housing.  What is allowed under the AWA?
    • There is no limit to the number of dogs on the premises.  A puppy mill could have hundreds or thousands of dogs.
    • There is no requirement on the number of staff to provide care for the dogs.  One person can care for hundreds of dogs.
    • Dogs may be kept in stacked cages.
    • Mesh or wire flooring is allowed.
    • Dogs have no choice but to relieve themselves in their cages.
    • Dogs may be confined in spaces only six inches larger than their bodies on each side, not including the tail.
    • Dogs may be caged 24/7 for their entire lives, only removed from the cage to be bred.
    • There is no exercise requirement if dogs are caged with other dogs and certain minimal size requirements are met for the dog’s enclosure.
    • Human interaction is not required.
    • Females dogs can be bred at the first heat cycle and every heat cycle thereafter.
    • Unwanted dogs may be destroyed or auctioned off.
    • Many of the AWA’s requirements are vague and leave it up to the mill owners to determine what is “adequate”.
  • Over one million puppies are produced by USDA licensed facilities (supplied to pet stores & online puppy brokers) each year.
  • There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the USA.
  • Retail Pet Sales Ordinances encourage individuals seriously interested in becoming a pet owner to seek adoption or to seek out responsible breeders where they can visit the facility to meet the parent dogs.
  • Adoption from rescues/shelters will help reduce the number of pets being euthanized in local shelters.  We believe there would be 75% fewer dogs in shelters and rescues if puppy mills didn’t exist.
  • Responsible breeders do exist and DO NOT sell their puppies to pet stores.  Retail Pet Sale Ordinances would not affect their ability to humanely breed, raise, and sell their puppies.
  • Ordinances do not take away an individual’s right to own animals; they will better regulate and ensure transparency about where those animals are coming from (responsible breeders or adoption from shelter/rescue).
  • Pet stores can continue to flourish by switching to a humane model, selling services and products (pet food, toys, grooming, boarding) and collaborating with local shelters/rescues with adoption services.
  • Retail Pet Sales Ordinances would prevent the selling of potentially sick pets from out-of-state commercial breeding facilities.
    • Americans have made it clear that they do not support puppy mills. That’s why states, cities, and counties have already passed humane ordinances/legislation.  In the USA alone:
      • 321 Cities
      • 28 Counties
      • 3 states:  California, Maryland, Maine
    • Literature published in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association supports the fact that dogs sold at pet stores are at a greater risk for behavioral problems than those obtained from noncommercial breeders. Another study in Applied Animal Behavior Science found that breeding dogs at commercial establishments were significantly more likely to have health and behavioral issues.
    • Retail Pet Sales Ordinances are designed to protect the public from fraud, with respect to pet origin and health, and deter the sale of commercially bred animals with illnesses, behavioral issues, and genetic problems.

Help enact a Retail Pet Sales Ordinance in your community! We can provide materials and guidance.  Send us an email at  Or join hundreds of Harley’s Dream volunteers across the country and Canada by becoming a Harley’s Hero.

Harley’s Dream is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating awareness and educating the public about the cruel commercial dog breeding industry, also known as puppy mills.  It was formed in honor of Harley, a tiny one-eyed puppy mill survivor who went on to become the American Hero Dog in 2015.  Harley came from a puppy mill and the founders of Harley’s Dream have also been inside many puppy mills and dog auctions.  Harley’s Dream supports Retail Pet Sales Ordinances at the city, county, or state level as a critical strategy to help stop this cruel industry and move forward toward a more humane future for our canine companions.