A new survey shows that pet shops are taking advantage of the rise in demand for puppies during the COVID-19 crisis to increase their profits, and some of the dogs they’re selling come from cruel puppy mills.

With strict stay-at-home orders in place, people are seeking out companion animals — especially puppies, who require the extra time and commitment that many people have right now.

Investigators from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) surveyed 31 pet stores and discovered that over half (17) were experiencing unusually high puppy sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

All of the participating pet stores were in 13 states where only essential businesses are currently allowed to trade, yet all but two stores were still open and selling puppies. One of the pet stores had taken deposits from 11 different customers for puppies who hadn’t even arrived in the store yet.

This rise in sales is concerning because certain pet stores frequently stock up on dogs from abhorrent puppy mills. Then, uninformed consumers purchase the dogs, unknowingly supporting businesses with dreadful animal welfare conditions and dangerous breeding practices.

Sometimes, the puppies bred at these mills develop serious illnesses and either die or have to be euthanized.

If you’re considering bringing a new dog, or any other companion animal, into your home, please get in touch with your local animal rescue center and adopt one of the many animals in need of care and a loving family. Shelters are also in need of fosters — so even if you can’t add a permanent addition to the family, you can still help an animal in need!