C.D. Watson writes for Pets Adviser, a pet advice site. She has three dogs, a variety of rescued cats, a pair of Gouldian finches and an assortment of resident critters. 

I have a confession to make, and it’s not easy to write about, but here it goes:

One day, on impulse, I bought a puppy from a pet store.

This fateful decision, and the long ordeal that followed, made me realize how we the consumers are the ones who perpetuate the demand for puppy mills. It is we who continue to buy from the pet stores and websites that source these innocent dogs.

I am embarrassed by my “dirty secret,” yet I hope that by sharing my story — actually, Maggi May’s story — we can all learn from it.

Maggi May

Maggi May’s Story

I had planned to meet a friend for lunch one day, and walking by a pet shop I saw the cutest little cairn terrier watching me from the window. I shouldn’t have made eye contact, but I did. I swear that little dog was communicating with me: Take me home, pleeeease!

All through lunch I thought about that sweet little face and those big black eyes. I hadn’t cared for a pet for a very long time, and I was at a particularly vulnerable place in my life. I walked back to the store, just to look at her again. I went inside, and the store clerk thrust all 2 pounds of irresistible dog in my arms, and the puppy snuggled against me and licked my fingers.

Nearly a thousand dollars later, my credit card smoking, I left the store with my new puppy. Of course I had to also buy the crate, bed, bowls, leash, collar, toys, food and a folding fence enclosure!

I named her Maggi May because I bought her on May 12. She was 13 weeks old, blonde, and I was head over heels in love with her. I sent her registration papers off but planned to spay as soon she was age-appropriate.

Maggi May napping in the sun.

A Sign of Trouble

A few days after I brought Maggi home, she developed a cough.

I had an appointment with the veterinarian for the following week, so I made a mental note to have it checked. By Sunday of that week she was barely able to breathe. I rushed her to the emergency clinic, where she was diagnosed with bordetella, a viral infection commonly known as kennel cough.

Maggi was so tiny and so sick. She ended up spending a couple days in the animal hospital on intravenous fluids fighting the virus. She survived, and I was relieved.

I contacted the store, which had a “seven-day return policy” regarding the purchase of live animals. I would not have returned her to the store anyway, but I expected some restitution for selling me an infected dog! But Maggi was alive and she was home, so I abandoned the effort.

Unfortunately, Maggi May’s heartbreaking troubles were just beginning. Continue reading her story here: http://petsadviser.com/animal-welfare/impulse-buying-pets-nightmare/






  1. Sadly Maggi’s story is not unique. Puppy mill dogs, the ones that are sold in pet stores, often have genetic diseases and medical issues their entire life. There is a USDA proposal to stop the unregulated sale of puppies on the Internet and require all breeders with more than 4 breeding females to be licensed. This proposal would move us one step closer to stopping puppy mills. Please take the time to comment on the USDA’s website and voice your support of this proposal. Comments are open through August 15. http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001