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Need for a Matching Market for Pet Dogs

Every year there are around 23.5 million people who plan to acquire a pet but fail to do so because they do not find reliable sources. Studies have shown that around 6 million people who do manage to get a pet acquire them from puppy mills. Puppy mills are basically places where dogs are bred over and over again so that puppies can be mass produced and sold for profits. Various movements around banning puppy mills have shed light on the dangerous practices in such puppy mills. However, most people keep buying puppies from these mills. While researching on this issue, I found answers for two important questions:

  • Why do most owners tend to buy from puppy mills despite their cruel activities?
  • How and why do dogs or puppies end up in these mills in the first place?

People tend to move towards puppy mills mainly because in the existing markets, it is very hard to distinguish between breeds coming from the mills versus those from responsible breeders. In addition, puppy mills increase their demand and make themselves more visible by falsely advertising as responsible breeders in the market. Due to this visibility and false advertisements the demand for puppy mills has been rising which indirectly has been encouraging inhumane practices in those mills. Secondly, most of the dogs that are subject to such practices in puppy mills are home-bred that have been abandoned solely because they were not compatible with the owner’s personality as they found them to be “inconvenient”. Indirectly, this has created a cruel sustainable system where every year abandoned dogs are fed to puppy mills where they produce more puppies that get abandoned later on and in this process a record number of 4-5 million dogs end up dead.

A snapshot of

A snapshot of

In order to prevent this massacre, not only a new unified market should be established where dog buyers and responsible breeders are brought together but also an efficient mechanism should be developed so that the practice of abandoning puppies is reduced. One such unified market that is already in place is Wagroo. Wagroo, provides an online platform for listing dogs that come from “all responsible sources such as shelters, rescue groups, responsible breeders and owners needing to re-home their dogs” thereby aiming to cut search costs for finding pet dogs. However, Wagroo still faces the problem of distinguishing puppies from puppy mills to those from reliable sources. Even though it is an ongoing problem and more research can shed light on various solutions. One interesting solution for this problem can come from the Stable Marriage model that we learnt in class.

Let us define a market with three agents on both sides: Dog Buyers denoted by B and Responsible breeders denoted by R. Let us assume strict, complete and rank order preferences for both sides. A dog buyer has certain preferences for the puppy he wants and ranks them accordingly. A responsible breeder unlike a puppy mill owner will know the traits for his puppy or dog. He can then rank the traits of the desirable dog owner accordingly. To elaborate consider the following example:

Dog Buyers and their preferences along with each buyer’s personality traits

Buyer A – Outdoorsy Buyer B- Friendly, Outdoorsy Buyer C – Friendly
Beagle Husky Beagle
Husky Bulldog Bulldog
Bulldog Beagle Husky

Responsible Breeders will rank the buyers whose personalities will closely match the characteristics of the breed of their puppy.

Breeder A owns Beagle Breeder B owns Husky Breeder C owns Bulldog
Buyer A Buyer B Buyer C
Buyer B Buyer A Buyer B
Buyer C Buyer C Buyer A

Now applying the deferred acceptance algorithm we get the matching, M = (A-Beagle, B-Husky, C- Bulldog). There is no blocking pair hence the matching is stable.

Although the stable marriage model does not entirely represent the existing market it does solve certain issues. For example, when owners are matched to dogs that are compatible with their personalities it is highly likely that they will not abandon them. This comes from the assumption that people tend to like others who match their interests or personalities. Since deferred acceptance algorithm is strategy proof on at least one side, it also makes it impossible for the owners to lie about their preferences of dogs they want. This model can be further modified and optimized to take into account pricing of dogs, budget of owners, and more traits of both dogs and potential owners.

Analyzing the situation at hand, the necessity for a market for dog owners and breeders is obvious and only more research can bring into light an effective mechanism in matching markets for pet dogs thereby eliminating the need for puppy mills.


Puppy Mills and facts:

Stable Matching:


Inspired by:


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