Here’s my variation on Mark Twain’s famous quote: There are lies, damn lies, and pet store lies. Below are a few "tall tales" corrupt pet stores will tell you when urging you to buy their "product."

1. "Puppy mills? No way! Our pups come from responsible breeders."

I’ve never met a pet shop that copped to the truth of the matter. Because puppy mills are breeders, this particular untruth is a sin of omission––until you factor in the word "responsible."

2. "Our pets are sourced from USDA-licensed breeders."

This is another obfuscation––not quite a lie. That's because the pets often do come from USDA-certified breeders. But that means...just...about...nothing. In fact, it’s usually industry code for "puppy mill." After all, who goes out of their way to certify their pet-based establishment as an agriculture-based endeavor? Moreover, USDA regulations allow for dogs to live in a cage for their entire lives. Does that sound like a place you’d want a pup from?

3. "Your puppy comes with a certificate of good health."

Most states require that each puppy sold be accompanied by an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (OCVI) that lists the vaccines and medications that have been administered. But honest, knowledgeable veterinarians will tell you that this required paperwork has nothing to do with "health," per se. It’s just about vaccines, meds, and intestinal parasite exams––no more. For example, congenital deformities are not a required element of an OCVI.

4. "You should use our veterinarian because s/he’s the best!"

Veterinarians who work with pet stores (signing OCVIs and treating their "goods") are rewarded for overlooking major abnormalities. That’s how they get the job to begin with––they’re willing to examine 40 pups an hour and issue health certificates for all. They also work happily with pet stores because they know that the first "free exam" they do for the shop’s pet buyers means a new client––a boon for their practice. 

5. "If your puppy gets sick in the first X number of days, you have to see our vet or we can’t reimburse you."

The pet store wants you to use their preferred vet during this period because this professional doesn’t charge them for his or her services. But that means said vet is less likely to treat your new pet aggressively/appropriately. 

Some states (including the Florida Puppy Lemon Law in my state) requires that the pet store reimburse a consumer for reasonable veterinary expenses incurred in treating the animal for illness or disease during the first two weeks up to the purchase price of the dog, and specifically allows the consumer to use an independent veterinarian rather than one that has a relationship with the pet store. 

OK, so #5 is an outright lie (in my state, anyway).

It’s always nice to end on a definitive note. Right? 

Dr. Patty Khuly