The History Of Puppy Mills And Why You Should Care
An Animal Rights Article from


Ivy Collier, Faunalytics
January 2014

This blog examines puppy mills in the U.S., explaining what they are, how they came to be, the number that are in operation, and how many dogs are impacted. The piece also outlines some of the many problems with these facilities and explains how the new Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS Act) can address the so-called “Internet loophole” in puppy sales.

Puppy mills came into popularity after World War II in reaction to crop failures in the Midwest. What may be hard to believe today is that the USDA actually promoted puppy mills by advertising that it was a lucrative and failproof business. Encouraged by the government, farmers started to pack dogs into chicken coops and rabbit hutches and sell puppies to pet stores.

Today, the USDA estimates that there are between 2,000-3,000 federally licensed commercial breeding facilities in the US with approximately 1,045 of these facilities being in Missouri (645), Iowa (237), and Kansas (178). The ASPCA believes there are close to 10,000 puppy mill breeders. However, the majority of these breeders are either not properly licensed or are not required to be licensed because they operate on a smaller scale. Since these breeders are not tracked by the USDA, it is nearly impossible to know exactly how many puppy mills are in the US.

It is also close to impossible to learn exactly how many dogs are living in puppy mills as some breeders are not required to keep accurate records, or if the breeder is illegal, they will purposely not keep records. However, according to HSUS, there is an estimated 176,088 dogs kept for breeding at USDA licensed facilities and approximately 1,075,896 puppies born in facilities each year. HSUS estimates that there is an estimated 2.15 million puppies that are sold each year. Many of these puppies are sold via the Internet where there is currently no USDA oversight.

It is saddening to think about thousands upon thousands of dogs are living in small, dark, cramped cages for their entire lives and are refused even very basic veterinary care. The use of stacked, wire cages makes it difficult to avoid contact with urine, feces, and other infectious diseases due to the dogs’ paws slipping through the wire and into the waste. Combined with the lack of grooming, environmental cleanliness and oversight, these dogs have a slim chance of living a healthy, happy life.

Read more at The History of Puppy Mills and Why You Should Care.

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