Pet store distributors, also known as puppy brokers, are the individual businesses that handle the buying and selling of puppies. While some people have a very vague idea of who they are and what they do, most people don’t even know that they exist.
In this article, we’re going to talk about puppy brokers—who they are, what they do, how they’re regulated, and how the distribution process works. Keep reading to learn more.
What Exactly is a Puppy Broker?
A puppy broker by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards, is essentially a middleman between the pet store breeders and pet stores. These licensed and inspected kennel facilities are where puppies are held before they are handed over to the pet store. It’s also where all the paperwork and transportation details for specific pet stores are worked out.
The USDA defines puppy brokers as “Individuals or businesses who sell or offer to sell or transport or offer for transportation, in commerce, warm-blooded animals for use in research, exhibition, or as pets must be licensed as a dealer. In addition, individuals or businesses who buy, sell, offer to buy or sell, or transport or offer to transport, in commerce, warm-blooded animals to or from another dealer or exhibitor must be licensed as a dealer.”
Pet store distributors hold a Class B license, which can be for a sole proprietor or a company.
A Class B license subjects these kennels to the federal requirements and inspections of the USDA. They are responsible for choosing the appropriate breeders, kennels, and the genetic lines for their pet stores to purchase. They’re also responsible for maintaining a relationship between breeders and pet stores as well as all the records for the pet store they distribute to.
With USDA licensed distributors, you can expect a variety of different breeds, all cared for by a professional staff. Much like USDA breeder kennels, broker kennels are also state of the art. However, their facilities are generally much larger and equipped to handle different breeds of dogs. That means well-designed grooming rooms and more than adequate play areas.
They also typically keep an in-house veterinarian on the payroll to ensure the puppies receive the best care around the clock while being housed in their kennel.
Why Do Pet Stores and Amish Breeders Need Puppy Brokers?
Pet stores don’t necessarily need puppy brokers. In fact, most pet stores buy their puppies directly from their breeders of choice. However, puppy brokers are a great convenience for both pet stores and breeders since they handle most of the grunt work. For example, A pet store owner or manager can simply call a puppy broker to get the availability of dozens of breeds from multiple breeders rather than calling each individual breeder.
Pet store breeders, on the other hand, are much more likely to utilize the services of a puppy broker. This is because breeders usually already have their hands full with taking care of their dog’s daily needs, helping the mothers care for their puppies, as well as maintaining a clean and safe kennel. Having a broker handle the transportation of the puppies as well as the phone calls from pet stores allows breeders more time to care for their dogs and litters.
Where Do These Puppy Brokers Exist?
Puppy brokers don’t exactly have storefronts, so you won’t find them along city streets or in shopping centers. This is especially true for the East and West coast cities. Puppy brokers conduct their business where all the other animal distributors are located—in the Midwest.
The Midwest states make for the perfect central location. It allows puppy brokers to sell to pet stores on both the East and West coast with ease.
How Are They Regulated?
As previously mentioned, all puppy brokers must have a Class B license. They must also undergo inspection by the USDA, which subjects them to the federal regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). However, there are individual state Agriculture Departments that also have their own rules and regulations regarding puppy brokers.
To find the rules and regulations in your state, you would have to visit your state’s Department of Agriculture Website.
The rules and regulations that govern puppy brokers are strict and they’re enforced during each inspection. If the broker fails to comply they will either be denied a license, receive a violation citation, or lose their existing license. All violations become public information, and in some states, they can prohibit the broker from selling puppies within their state.
Here’s a closer look at some of the things that the AWA Regulates:
- All Animal Housing
- Cleanliness throughout the entire kennel
- The food and water supply for the animals
- The shelter and protection against extreme weather and temperature
- The maintenance and keeping of complete and accurate records of all puppies, including labeling
- The written program of veterinary care written by a licensed veterinarian
- The employment of a full-time veterinarian
How Does the Puppy Distribution Process Work?
Puppy brokers can only take puppies from breeders once they are at least eight weeks of age and fully weaned from their mother. Upon arrival, the puppies are examined by the in-house licensed veterinarian, usually along with one or two other vet techs. Each puppy is thoroughly examined from nose to tail, checking the overall health and for issues such as luxating patellas, open fontanels, viral infections, and so on.
Once examined, results are recorded and the puppies are cared for by the vet techs and kennel staff. They are bathed and groomed, which includes ear cleanings, nail clipping, flea and tick prevention, and dental care. The puppies are then housed with their littermates to keep stress levels down and encourage normal social behavior.
Depending on individual state laws, puppy dealers are required to hold the puppies from one to three days before transporting them to the pet store. During this time, the puppies have access to fresh water and quality food, and they have plenty of space to run around and play. They also receive plenty of attention and interactive playtime from the kennel staff.
Always Look for USDA Licensing
It’s important to remember that regardless of using a puppy broker or not, most pet stores only purchase their puppies from USDA breeders. Both breeders and distributors holding USDA Class A and B licenses are under strict regulations set by the AWA. Both pet stores and buyers can access information on each USDA breeder and broker license holder by searching the Animal Care Information Systems (ACIS) search tool.