Puppy mills are low-budget, backyard breeding factories
that churn out puppies for profit. Most puppy mills are located in the
Midwest with Missouri leading as the number one puppy mill state.
Approximately 5,000 puppy mills are believed to exist. Pinning down the
exact number is hard, since most of these operations aren't licensed.
Puppy mills are the factory farms of the companion
animal industry. What are you likely to find in a puppy mill?
Overcrowding, filth, malnourishment, exposure to extreme elements,
females serving as breeding machines, and lots of unhealthy, starving,
neglected puppies. The American Humane Association reports:
"Undercover visits to puppy mills have revealed what
some have termed "canine concentration camps." Puppies were found to be
living in wire cages scattered with animal carcasses, piled with feces,
and unprotected from snow, rain, freezing, or blazing hot weather. Few
were allowed to exercise. Food and water were scarce, and often
contaminated. In fact, an investigator at one puppy mill found a breeder
feeding dogs the heads of slaughtered animals."
Animals that come from puppy mills are unhealthy due to
* Removal from their mother at too young an age results
in impaired natural immunity to disease.
* Puppy mills subject the animals to filthy conditions.
* Overcrowding contributes to the spread of disease.
* Animals receive little or no veterinary care.
These animals not only have physical problems, but also
suffer from behavioral problems. Their lack of contact with people and
early removal from their mother often results in unsocial behaviors
which surface only as the pups grow into dogs.
Who ends up with these puppies? Approximately 360,000
puppies from puppy mills are sold to pet shops across the nation
annually, the largest market being franchise pet stores, such as Docktor
Pet Center. California is a large market for Midwest puppy mills, as is
the East Coast. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals (MSPCA) reports that "at least 90 percent of the half million
purebred puppies sold in pet stores" are from puppy mills.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals (ASPCA) says that the problem of sick animals from pet stores is
so prevalent that many states, including New York and New Jersey, now
require the stores to compensate people who buy animals that are sick at
the time of purchase. The store may be liable for veterinary bills (up
to the purchase price of the animal) or may have to allow an exchange or
Animals also suffer in kennels licensed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is responsible for inspecting
them. The USDA admits that as many as 25% of licensed kennels have
substandard conditions. The USDA just doesn't have enough staff
available to stay on top of the problem.
Stricter laws and stricter enforcement of those laws
would go a long way toward helping close down inhumane puppy mill
operations. Unfortunately, local law enforcement is often lacking, and
even when kennel owners are charged with cruelty, they too often get off
with a warning or a laughable "penalty." One kennel owner was given the
"choice of selling her dogs within 60 days or facing charges of cruelty.
What kind of deterrent is that? One major puppy mill state, Kansas, even
went so far as to make it a felony to photograph the goings-on at a
puppy mill. This makes investigation difficult, if not impossible.
Puppy Mill Information
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