The Heartbreaking Reality of Discounted Christmas Puppies

If you want to help end puppy mills forever, don’t buy dogs from questionable pet stores.

Puppies get the short end of the stick when you buy them from puppy mill–supporting pet stores. By: tree_leaf_clover

My New York neighborhood is one of the greatest places on earth for me, particularly during the Christmas season.

Beautifully dressed windows, shoppers bustling about with packages, people getting bites to eat in candle-lit bistros as they hide out from the cold — it’s always the perfect Christmas scene.

In the magic of New York on a December night, the Freedom Tower glistening in the backdrop, I was walking my rescue pup around the block. Cocoa began barking at some puppies in the window of a local pet store. The sign on the door read: “Christmas special! $300 off every puppy.”

All I could think was: Have we really not progressed since Patti Page released her iconic song, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” in 1953?

The pet store in question and its sales advertisement. By: Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

The Price of Puppies

Instead of guarding my holiday spirit — and my sanity — I entered the store and asked, indeed, how much that doggie in the window was.

Not that I was a serious buyer, mind you. It’s just that my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to find out how exploitive the puppy mill industry had become since I’d last checked.

My holidays were going great so far, so — of course — I just had to mess it up with a little righteous animal welfare angst. Why not get a dose of reality about pet stores and puppy mills on this otherwise magical night?

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The Frenchie for sale at a discounted price. By: Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

The doggie in the window, a Frenchie, was $4,000. And then there’s the $300 “Christmas discount,” mildly bringing the total down to $3,700.

Patti Page’s 1953 puppy in the window was a Cocker Spaniel. Page was singing and doing her puppy shopping dressed in a powdery light suit and high heels. The song never actually gave us the price of the cocker puppy, a breed that would become so popular in the 1950s and 1960s that it was virtually ruined through immoral and unethical breeding.

I pray the Frenchie and other “popular” flavors of the day don’t suffer the same demise.

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Pet store pups and their broken water spigot. By: Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

Getting the Details

Not coiffed and elegant like Patti Page, I was doing my sad, undercover puppy “shopping” in black running clothes and old boots. In any case, I asked the clerk for some background information on the puppies. He couldn’t speak English very well, and he didn’t understand what I was asking.

“Where do the puppies come from?” I asked.

The clerk searched around for the paperwork. “M-O,” he said uncertainly. I’m not sure he knew that meant Missouri. Missouri is sadly a disaster of a puppy mill state, as I hope most of you know.

Thinking that I probably wouldn’t get any more information on the poor dogs in the store, I wandered around a bit and took in the sight of the rotating puppies in the window destroying their water bottle spigot. All the water dumped out on their heads and paws. I informed the clerks, and they got a new bottle ready immediately.

But if I hadn’t said anything, who knew when those pups would get fresh water again?

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Watch these 70 pups get rescued from the deplorable conditions of a Missouri puppy mill:

Bottom Line? Don’t Support These Stores

So what is so sad about this story and hawking puppies at Christmas?

Everything. Triggering anyone to buy a pup as if it’s an expensive ornament on the tree is a nasty business. And think long and hard before you buy a pup from a questionable pet store at any time of the year. These poor babies are from puppy mills, and your purchase is only supporting a sick business.

I know you’ve heard it a million times before, but don’t buy a puppy at Christmas. It only hurts the puppies and the cause of fighting against the insidious business of puppy mills.

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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