The CAPS Action Plan

Investigating Pet Shops and Puppy Mills Since 1992

Two million puppies and kittens are born in animal mills every year. These animals are often unhealthy, and their parents suffer in overcrowded, unsanitary cages. Typically, the young animals produced at mills are sold to unsuspecting customers at pet shops or in online marketplaces. The goal of CAPS is to end this inhumane practice. We use a coordinated strategy of nationwide programs in this effort.


CAPS conducts hundreds of undercover investigations each year. Our targets include not only pet shops but also the huge network of USDA-licensed breeders and brokers who supply pet shops with animals. Undercover CAPS investigators have been inside more than 1,000 puppy-and-kitten mills. Videos and reports from our investigations have helped expose the disturbing realities of commercial dog and cat breeding. These investigations also provide important evidence for our ongoing legal, legislative, and outreach efforts.

See samples of CAPS undercover investigations

Legislation and Legal

CAPS regularly assists in the creation of legislation to restrict the retail sale of certain animals. These laws put financial pressure on puppy mills by eliminating their retail markets. More than 340 pet shop ordinances and state laws have been passed in the United States and Canada since the 2010 passage of a CAPS-generated ordinance in West Hollywood, California. Our longtime work in California was also critical to the passage of a 2018 law banning the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in the entire state. Maryland has since passed a similar law, and other states now have comparable legislation pending.

Learn more about laws we’ve helped enact.

USDA Oversight

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) licenses and inspects our country’s 3,000 commercial dog and cat breeding facilities. The USDA is supposed to protect the animals living there by enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. CAPS has been investigating the USDA since 1995, and our evidence has proven, however, that the federal agency has minimal concern for dogs and cats suffering in mills—or for puppies and kittens transported to pet shops or sold online. CAPS continues to put pressure on the USDA, and we are advocating for congressional oversight hearings into the USDA’s wrongdoings.

Read the OIG Report and USDA-Related Articles.

Education and outreach

A big part of the CAPS mission is to educate the public about pet shops and their connection to animal mills. We use many methods of outreach:

  • Social media
  • News stories
  • Television and radio public service announcements
  • Protests and outreach events
  • Blogs, action alerts, and newsletters
  • A pet shop complaint form and database for the public

Watch our Public service announcements, Videos, Investigation Videos and Reports

Rescue and Rehabilitation

As evidence of abuse and neglect, CAPS periodically rescues animals during our undercover investigations. We provide these animals with veterinary care and partner with shelters, rescue organizations, and animal lovers to place them into foster care or permanent homes.

Read some of our rescue stories.

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