Puppy Mill Facts

What is a puppy mill?
It is large-scale, commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the health and proper care of the dogs.

Where are puppy mill dogs sold?
They are sold to pet shops through a broker or middleman. Lineage records are often falsified. They are sold directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads and at swap meets and flea markets.

What are common congenital problems in puppy mill dogs?
Operators often fail to remove sick dogs from their breeding pools so mill puppies are prone to some of the following congenital and hereditary conditions: epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, musculoskeletal disorders (like hip dysplasia), endocrine disorders (like diabetes), blood disorders (like anemia), deafness, eye problems and respiratory disorders.

What are common health issues in puppy mill dogs?
Because many mills provide substandard veterinary care and inhumane living conditions to their canines, puppies often arrive at pet stores with some of the following problems: giardia, parvovirus, distemper, upper respiratory infections, kennel cough, pneumonia, mange, flea/tick infestations, intestinal parasites, heartworm and chronic diarrhea.

What are common behavior problems in puppy mill dogs?
Puppies are typically removed from their littermates and mothers at 6 weeks old and receive a minimum of socialization from humans.  Consequently, they often display behaviors such as extreme shyness, aggression, fear and anxiety.

How are animals cared for in puppy mills?
Canines are usually housed in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. To minimize cleanup, they are often kept in cages with wire flooring. Breeding dogs often spend their entire lives outdoors exposed to the elements or crammed inside a filthy structure without adequate access to the outdoors and fresh air.

How often are dogs bred?
To maximize profits, females are bred as often as possible with little to no recovery time between litters.  The parents of a pet store puppy are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive.

Where are most puppy mills located?
Missouri is the leading puppy mill state in the USA with high concentrations found in Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York. Commercial breeding is prevalent among the Amish and Mennonites with pockets of breeders found throughout the country.

How many puppy mills exist in the USA?
The ASPCA estimates that there could be as many as 10,000 puppy mills in our country.

My local pet store says their dogs don’t come from a mill. Is this true?
Many store owners will tell you that their puppies come from “licensed USDA breeders.” In order to sell puppies to a pet store, a breeder MUST be licensed by the USDA. Responsible breeders would never sell a puppy through a pet store because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure their puppies receive good homes. This means that most stores do, in fact, get their puppies from mills.

The store says the puppy has papers. Doesn’t this mean they’re from responsible breeders?
No, it only means that both of the puppy’s parents were registered. The only way to be sure a puppy comes from a reputable source is to visit the breeder and learn about their practices first hand.

How do I know if a puppy available online is from a mill?
Most puppies sold online without a “meet the pet” requirement come from mills. Responsible breeders would never sell to someone they haven’t met because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure their puppies receive good homes.

How can I get a “purebred” dog?
from a shelter. Both purebreds and mixed breeds become homeless and need loving families. Or, consider working with breed rescue.  If you can’t find a suitable fit through these sources, learn how to recognize a responsible breeder. Make sure to meet the puppy’s parents and see where the dogs live. Ask for veterinary and client references.  If the breeder will not work with you on these things, take your business elsewhere.

This information was obtained from the ASPCA’s website and is a direct result of their extensive research and work on the national level aimed at educating the public about this important issue.


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Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society