Puppy Mill Information
A puppy mill is the equivalent of a factory farm for dogs. The crop, in high demand by the American public, is puppies. Another term for a puppy mill is “commercial breeder;” as the name implies, puppy mill breeders have a commercial interest in puppies—selling them is how they make a living or greatly supplement their income. The problem is, to make a profit, commercial breeders must cut corners. Dogs are kept in cages all the time, with the minimum legal space allowed (six inches larger than the dog on all sides), females are bred as often as possible, and when they are no longer able to “produce,” they are discarded. It is no life for man’s best friend.
Though Cruel and inhumane, puppy mills are legal and often licensed puppy mills have been regulated by the federal government since the 1960’s. Breeders who sell puppies to pet stores must hold a USDA dealer license, and many states also require breeders to obtain a license to have a dog breeding kennel. However, the standards they must adhere to are little more than requiring food, water and shelter. It is perfectly legal for licensed breeders to:
- Own several hundred, even over one thousand dogs
- Keep all dogs in cages for years at a time
- Breed dogs as often as possible, and to churn out as many puppies as possible
The standards set forth by the government are not meant to ensure a good life for dogs; they are meant to impose the only bare minimum of care requirements. Furthermore, there are only a few inspectors in each state for hundreds—sometimes thousands of licensed kennels.
How can you tell the difference between a puppy mill and a “good breeder”?
In order to make money, a puppy mill operates differently than a responsible, humane breeder. The list below describes characteristics that indicate a breeder is operating as a commercial enterprise, or puppy mill instead of breeding as a hobby:
- The breeder has several breeds of dogs for sale at the same time.
- The breeder offers to ship dogs to new owners, without meeting you first.
- The breeder will not allow customers to view their property or kennel.
- The breeder does not require an application or references from people buying a puppy.
- The breeder does not ask buyers to return the dog or contact them if at any point in the dog’s life if the owners cannot keep the dog.
- The breeder has a very large kennel. Owning fifty to several hundred dogs is typical.
- The breeder breeds females every time they come into heat.
- The breeder is USDA-licensed so they can sell puppies to pet stores. A USDA license is a red flag that a breeder is in the business to make money.
- The breeder does not screen his or her dogs for genetic defects
Puppy Mill Statistics:
- 4-5 million animals die in shelters every year (roughly 11,000 every day.)
- 20% of animals in shelters are purebred.
- It’s estimated that 4 million dogs are bred in puppy mills every year.
- There are nearly 6,000 USDA-licensed commercial kennels in the U.S. (and untold numbers of unlicensed.)
Puppy mills sell several million puppies every year. Another way to say this is that millions of people are buying dogs from puppy mills each year, and none of them had any idea. Puppy mill owners count on people falling in love with their puppies, either in the pet store or through adorable photos on the Internet. Here’s how you can be sure not to support this cruel industry:
Puppy mill breeders have great-looking websites all over the Internet to sell puppies direct to the public. Beware of any site that sells dogs, especially if they offer to ship puppies to you. No matter how convincing the site is, the reality could be tens or hundreds of dogs warehoused for breeding. They will even say they are not puppy mills right on the site, but you can’t be sure unless you see for yourself. Never, ever buy a puppy online.
Stores sell puppies as though they are merchandise, or products. The system is the same as any other product in a store: puppies are raised with low-cost production methods, sold to a broker or “middle man,” and delivered to retail stores to be bought by the end customer. The puppy’s breeder sometimes makes as little as $75 per puppy, while the end customer often pays well over $1,000 in a retail pet store.
For decades, the newspaper classifieds have been the first places that puppy buyers look for a new pet. Commercial breeders tap into this market easily by placing ads. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, and if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than where the place where the dogs and puppies are raised.
If you are determined to buy a puppy, never, ever buy from a pet store or online. In fact, with millions of animals, including purebred dogs and puppies, entering shelters every year, we believe anyone can find their perfect rescued puppy or dog if they simply take the time to look and research rescue groups and shelters—and it’s a sure way to not support inhumane breeding facilities or puppy mills.
There are thousands of wonderful pets available for adoption on websites, and it is easy to search for particular breeds or ages of pets. There are websites just for shelters and rescue groups to showcase their available animals. A few good sites are:
You can also find a dog by contacting a local breed rescue organization by searching www.google.com. Enter a city or state, the breed you are looking for, and the word “rescue.” Every pet adopted is a life saved!