Denver Gazette: ‘Rescue’ puppy mills betray dog-loving public

Aug 3, 2021

After the pandemic puppy rush of 2020, our shelters and rescues are full again. And there is a dirty little secret that’s not so secret in the animal-rescue community about why it’s happening. It’s nicknamed “retail rescue.”


“Retail rescues” present themselves as honorable players in the animal welfare space in our state but are covers for million-dollar schemes. These nonprofits prey on people’s love of animals to make big money, charging high dollar amounts to “adopt” puppies brought in from out of state.


They often “flip” them quickly to buyers without proper health checks or letting enough time go by to make sure they are not sick. Unsuspecting buyers, who want to rescue a pup, are often left heartbroken, and broke, when their puppies become sick and even die.


It looks like about 50,000 dogs were brought into Colorado during COVID-19, mostly puppies. Yes, 50,000!


There are 149 rescue-focused nonprofits in our state — the top 15 move about 60% of the dogs. One of the top three sold over 3,500 puppies in 2017-2019 and had revenue of almost $2 million during that time. The “adoption” fees with spay/neuter were upwards of $1,000 for some “desirable” puppies.

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