It is important to be aware that puppy mill puppies are often sold online, in pet stores, in newspaper ads, brokers, and dealers.  Puppy mills also sell animals directly to the public, often putting forth the appearance of a reputable breeder. Ask your breeder to meet the parents and see where they are living as well as the puppies. Some breeders use selling tactics like AKC or ACA registered, which does not mean the puppy came from ethical breeding practices. They are a means of registering a puppy’s pedigree and profit from it.

Unscrupulous Breeder Flags

  • You can’t see where the mom and puppies are living. (It is not a health risk to visit them.)
  • They always have puppies available.
  • The breeder is willing to ship a puppy to you without meeting you in person.
  • They are more interested in money than making sure their puppies have good homes.
  • There are many different breeds or breed mixes available/ (AKA designer breeds/hybrids)

puppyMillDid you know that most pet stores purchase their puppies from puppy mills?  These stores want “product” in the store and always have a shipment coming.  Pet stores rely on the relationship between families and their new puppies being so strong that puppies who begin to exhibit health or behavioral problems will not be returned.  Wanting to “rescue” a puppy from its cage at the pet store only reinforces the cycle of supply and demand that keeps puppy mills profitable.  It is condemning the parents to a cage 6″ longer than their body, not including the tail.  And this is a USDA standard and legal. Sadly, when no longer profitable, puppy mill breeder dogs are disposed of. Very few ever make it out alive and into a rescue for a chance at a new life.

To sell puppies to a pet store the breeder must possess a USDA Kennel License. USDA kennels are among the worst for neglect and cruelty.  The USDA is suppose to enforce the Federal AWA, Animal Welfare Act, which is completely outdated and provides the barest minimum of standards for keeping dogs.

There are many websites brokering puppies for large breeders. They offer numerous breeds including mixed breeds. Breeders from mid-western states will ship puppies to pet stores on the east or west coast and east coast breeders may ship puppies to the west, south or north. Basically, puppy mills ship product wherever there is demand and where the broker has agreements to sell. During the pandemic, the public was purchasing so many puppies that pet stores and websites were selling out, inevitably creating more demand for the dogs being bred in puppy mills to keep reproducing. And now that people are returning to work, some are relinquishing their dogs to humane shelters and rescues because they no longer have time for them or the dogs have anxiety from being alone.

Did you know there’s an estimated over 10,000 puppy mills in the United States and that over 2.5 million puppies sold annually originate from them? And that puppy mills have been around for over 60 years? Why? Because the public is purchasing the puppies.  Pennsylvania has breeding kennel laws, but some states don’t. When referring to puppy mills we often use the term “commercial breeder” or “breeding in significant numbers” but there are breeders that fall under the radar by possessing fewer dogs than laws require to have a kennel license. Like in large scale breeding kennels, the breeder dogs endure the same deplorable conditions, abuse, neglect, and deprivation in wire cages 24/7. Profit is always prioritized over the health and welfare of the breeding dogs.  If that weren’t bad enough, some puppies are dead or sick on arrival when shipped to pet stores.

As you can see, puppy mill operators are not the only ones profiting from the senseless suffering of so many dogs. To help you piece together the links and better understand the chain of cruelty, please be sure to read our Legislation and News articles including the recent HSUS annual report and Goldie’s Act. We use stats from and provide news and related links for other organizations like HSUS because they have the resources to do extensive research which directly relates to what UAPM is promoting awareness about.