There was good news for dogs this week: the USDA decided that online sellers of puppies should have to follow the same regulations as other sellers. This new rule protects people from buying from disreputable breeders, it protects puppies from the health problems that uninspected facilities can create, and it keeps breeding dogs from suffering their entire lives in inhumane conditions, as they bear one litter after another.

People love to shop online these days. For many things that’s OK. But shopping online for a dog is a terrible idea because you don’t know what sort of operation you are actually supporting. While the dogs in the pictures may appear clean, healthy, and happy, the animals in the actual facility may be anything but. The actual facility may be a puppy mill – a factory making cheap purebred dogs with no regard for their well-being. While the new USDA rule doesn’t necessarily guarantee that all regulations will be enforced, it is a step in the right direction.

In the meantime please don’t buy a dog online or from a pet store! Instead adopt from a shelter or rescue whenever possible. Be patient. Visit often. Allow yourself a few weeks to meet the right one. Why rush a lifetime commitment?