Puppy Mills: What They Are & How to Avoid Adopting from One
You’ve probably seen or heard the term “puppy mill,” but do you know what a puppy mill actually is? If you’re considering adopting a puppy or a dog, you’ll want to avoid adopting from one, even through a third party. Here’s what you need to know about puppy mills.
What Is a Puppy Mill?
A puppy mill is defined by the ASPCA as a “large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is placed above the well-being of the animals.” These mills work toward the mass production of puppies and dogs for sale:
- On the internet
- At flea markets
- In classified ads
- In pet stores
Any dog breed of dog, including mixed breeds, can be subjected to a puppy mill environment and the resulting animal cruelty.
Many puppy mills continue to exist because new owners aren’t aware of where their puppies come from. Many trust the breeders or pet stores from which they buy and don’t second-guess the origin of their new family members. As long as the demand is there and a lack of education continues, puppy mills will be around.
Why Are Puppy Mills Bad for Dogs?
In puppy mills, dogs and puppies are viewed purely for the money they bring in. Mother dogs are kept in small, confined cages where they are bred over and over. Their puppies are sold to various locations to be sold again to families looking for new dogs. The dogs that stay in puppy mills—as well as puppies before they are sold off—live their entire lives there in squalid conditions:
- They are usually outside in cages, with little to no shelter from weather, cold, or heat.
- Many of the dogs are left to their own devices, and as a result, have to sleep in their own excrement.
- Water and food, when given, can be contaminated or inadequate. Many dogs are starving.
- Dogs are bred until they cannot produce any more puppies. Then they are destroyed.
- Dogs don’t get access to any sort of care from a veterinarian. As a result, many are injured or sick. Dogs have been found suffering from: malnutrition, rotted teeth, skin diseases, matted fur, emaciation
- Mother dogs do not have any break in between litters.
- Dogs don’t get exercise or social engagement.
Puppies from puppy mills can also have behavioral and health problems, due to their environment or breeding. With lack of engagement and socialization with people during the first few weeks of their lives, they can be shy, anxious, or aggressive.
Genetic problems and illnesses are also commonly found in puppy mill puppies, including:
- Intestinal parasites
- Canine parvovirus (parvo)
- Canine distemper
- Urinary or bladder problems
- Respiratory problems or disorders
- Kidney disease
- Eye issues
- Cleft palate
How to Avoid Adopting from a Puppy Mill
One of the best ways to avoid adopting from a puppy mill is to become educated. If you’re considering welcoming a new family member into your home, do your research first. Here are some ways to avoid puppy mills altogether:
Adopt from a Local Animal Shelter or Humane Society
One of the best ways to avoid a puppy mill is to adopt a new family member from your local animal shelter. These are dogs that are looking for homes, are often socialized, and live in adequate conditions. You won’t be supporting a puppy mill by adopting from one of these centers.
If you’d like a particular breed or designer breed, these can be found at animal shelters too! They may even have their papers. There are also many breed-specific rescue organizations, like National Greyhound Adoption Program and Beagle Freedom Project. Don’t rule out shelters and rescues even if you’re after a specific breed!
Only Work with Reputable Breeders
If you want to get your dog from a breeder, try to make sure they are reputable. Responsible breeders truly care for their dogs. They provide a healthy environment and care about the homes their puppies go to. Before adopting from a breeder, always ask to see the puppies’ parents, other dogs in the environment, and the premises your dog was living in.
Avoid Pet Stores, Classified Ads, and “Deals”
Many deals you’ll find in the local newspaper, online on various websites, or at your neighborhood flea market also fall in the too-good-to-be-true category. It’s possible many of these dogs came from poor conditions or puppy mills.
About 90% of pet stores are selling dogs from puppy mills. Some pet stores do follow “puppy-friendly” rules, which means they are selling dogs from local animal shelters or rescues, but do your research if you plan on shopping at a pet store. Look for reviews of the store, and go there yourself to see if the pets look well.
Each year approximately 2 million puppies are sold as the result of puppy mills and nearly 200,000 dogs are being kept in the 10,000 facilities around the United States purely for breeding. You can work to stop puppy mills by advocating for the animals; contacting legislators; and educating others about what they are, the problems surrounding them, and how they too can avoid puppy mills.
Are you bringing home a new family member? It’s important to have them checked by a veterinarian. They can help you identify any genetic issues, work with behavioral problems, and more. To schedule your new family member’s first appointment, reach us at 281-693-7387.