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Stop Puppy Mills

Basic Facts about Puppy Mills and Pet Shops


Where do pet stores get their puppies?

Virtually all of the puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.

What are puppy mills?

Crude, outdoor breeding farms that mass-produce puppies for sale to pet stores to regularly supply dogs to laboratories and animal brokers.

What’s the difference between a breeder and a puppy mill?

The mass production of puppies. A breeder that sells to research, animal brokers and pet shops, and breeds more than three females is a puppy mill. A USDA breeding license is required and the USDA is supposed to inspect kennels to be sure that they adhere to minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act. When violations are cited, kennel operators are rarely fined or shut down.

Where are puppy mills located?

Puppy mills are nationwide. Many, however, are concentrated in the agricultural states, such as Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the Amish are mass-producing puppies.

What kind of people run puppy mills?

In rural areas, where puppy mills are a cottage industry, puppies are farmed as 'livestock'. They are viewed as a cash-crop.

How do they treat the pups and their mothers?

Because the animals are a means of income, expenses are kept down. The focus is on profit, with their welfare given little or no consideration. Puppy mills typically confine large numbers of dogs in rows of crudely constructed, over-crowded pens. The floors are constructed of wiring to allow feces and urine to drop to the ground below. This causes discomfort to the animals’ paws.

Considered nothing more than breeding stock, mother dogs are forced to have litters at an early age, and kept continually pregnant. Mother dogs are killed when they’re no longer able to produce a profitable litter size.

When are puppies taken from their mothers?

Puppies are typically removed at seven weeks of age. They are then sold to brokers who pack them in crates for transport and sale to pet shops. Ten or more puppies are often crammed into a single cage. Transportation conditions are often abysmal - lacking adequate food, water, or ventilation.

What effect does this trip have on the puppies?

Not all survive. Of those that do, many will be infected by contagious viruses, respiratory ailments, parasites, and other conditions caused by neglect and stress.

Are these animals healthy?

The puppies are born in unhealthy conditions, live with their mothers in filth and are transported similarly. The are often infested and weakened with parasites and viruses. To save money, they go untreated by veterinarians. Unsanitary conditions and lack of veterinary care can lead to rampant disease. Parents are typically not in good health, and have genetic problems. Generally, they also have behavioral and temperament problems which are often the products of inbreeding. They are not properly socialized because they lack positive contact with humans.

Do pet shops harm animals?

Pet shop owners try to keep veterinary bills and other animal care expenses down to maximize profits. Puppies rarely get the attention they need to become well-adjusted. Since they are not properly socialized, they are often returned, or dropped at a shelter when problems are detected.

Are pet shops in the business for money?

Yes. Animals can suffer while dealers and pet shops make profits. It is not unusual, for example, for a dog sold to a pet shop for $100 to be re-sold to a customer for $1,000 - $5,000. And by their very existence, puppy mills doom other animals. The marketing of approximately 1 million puppy mill animals each year prevents many people from adopting animals from pounds and shelters. It also undercuts the spay/neuter efforts of animal advocacy organizations.

Why shouldn’t we buy puppies in pet stores?

Pet shop employees routinely deny that they purchase from mills, or brokers that trade in puppy mill animals. They claim that they purchase puppies from 'reputable breeders (or USDA certified) and that the AKC papers prove it. As long as pet store customers purchase puppies, puppy mills will have a market. If you purchase a puppy, another animal will take it’s place. The mothers of the pups will continue to suffer.

Does the AKC inspect the breeders?

The AKC does not inspect kennels, nor does it vouch for the health or well-being of a puppy.

Are AKC - registered dogs guaranteed?

No. AKC registered simply means the puppy had two parents of the same breed. The AKC registers dogs and gives them 'papers which help to sell them in pet shops or at breeders’ kennels.

Does the AKC make money from puppy mills?

Yes, lots. Puppy mills comprise 80% of the AKC’s business. It registered 917,247 puppies in 2003 at the cost of approximately $25.00 per puppy.

Doesn’t the USDA protect these animals?

Wholesale dog breeding and the shipment of live animals are regulated by the USDA under the 1970 Animal Welfare Act. The Act requires breeders to be licensed, inspected, and regulated to ensure the very minimum standards of housing, care, and medical treatment.

The law, however is poorly enforced. The USDA has few agents to inspect approximately 5,000 puppy mills nationwide. When they discover infractions, the breeder routinely receives 'a slap on the wrist. Nothing in the welfare legislation does anything to change people’s minds about the idea that puppies are disposable merchandise.

Do state laws protect dogs and consumers?

States generally have an anti-animal cruelty laws to supposedly protect animals from overt physical abuse and neglect. Since under the law animals are viewed as the property of the owner, cruelty is often difficult to prove.

Consumers are protected to some degree by 'pet lemon laws, in some states. The law requires pet stores to refund money for unhealthy animals, pay for medical costs or offer another animal; it depends upon the state. This does not alleviate the grief, however, of a family experiencing the loss of a much loved puppy or kitten.

Where can I find a purebred dog?

More than 25% of the dogs at shelters are purebred dogs. Also, contact breed groups who specialize in adoptions for adult dogs of a specific breed.

Do puppy mills produce kittens, Too?

Yes. Sometimes the same breeder who produces puppies for pet shops also supplies kittens.

What You Can Do To Help:

Adopt a dog or cat from a shelter or rescue organization.

Do not purchase dogs or cats from pet shops. There is no reason to breed dogs and cats while millions are killed in shelters. Without pet shop sales, the market for puppy mills will disappear. Support a legislative effort to shut down the puppy mill trade in your state. Ask your legislators to support a bill to prohibit the selling of puppies and kittens in pet ships. Educate the public by writing letters to local newspapers, distributing compiles of this fact sheet outside pet stores in your area, and contacting local TV and radio shows about the issue.

Print out this fact sheet as a Word Doc.

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