Puppy mills (or puppy farms) are places where dogs are bred for commercial purposes. According to recent research conducted by The Puppy Mills Project, there are at least 10,000 puppy mills currently operating in the U.S., breeding more than 2 million puppies per year. On the other hand, it is estimated that over 1 million dogs are euthanized in shelters every year.
Why are puppy mills so bad? First and foremost, they are businesses designed to make a profit, which means that the dogs’ health and well-being is not breeders’ primary concern. They rarely invest in proper veterinary care, healthy food, or creating safe and sanitary conditions.
Female breeding dogs are forced to carry litter after litter and are generally kept in cages around the clock, often without protection from the weather. When they are too old to be used for breeding (and thus no longer profitable), they are euthanized, even via barbaric methods like shooting or drowning.
Conditions are no better for the young puppies, who are taken from their mothers too early, crammed into crowded, dirty living conditions, and not properly socialized.
Puppy mills both licensed and unlicensed operate all over the U.S., with the largest concentration in the Midwest. The dogs are shipped at a young age to pet stores across the country, often in inhumane ways. They may go an entire day without food or water, and the close quarters they are shipped in make disease transmission extremely common. Many puppies will not survive the journey from puppy mill from a pet store.
The most important thing you can do to help is to adopt shelter animals instead of purchasing from pet stores or online sellers. Not only are puppy mills bad for the puppies and their parents, but they are bad for the end consumer, who may end up with a dog that develops behavioral or health issues because of its horrendous experience early in life.
If you suspect that an unlicensed puppy mill is operating in your area, or if you suspect inhumane conditions at a licensed puppy mill, report the situation immediately to your local police department or animal control agency. You can also call 1-877-MILL-TIP to file a report with the Humane Society.
Remember: adopt, don’t shop!
Charlie the Maltese, our very own puppy mill survivor, spent five years as a breeder dog. She was forced to carry litter after litter of puppies, only to have them taken away from her. We were fortunate to rescue her from the terrible fate of being drowned once she was no longer in her prime reproductive years. She is now the queen of the house – loving and forgiving as all dogs are. Giving puppy mill survivors a second chance at life is the most rewarding thing you can do. Please adopt and give these deserving animals a forever home!