Puppy mills are dog breeding operations that produce purebred and mixed/hybrid puppies for profit, often in significant numbers, prioritizing financial gain over the health and well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills can vary in size but kennels can have hundreds of dogs without properly trained staff to care for them, keeping profits forefront. Females are bred at every heat cycle. They can suffer–untreated–from uterine infections, mammary cancers, and organs fused together from botched cesareans. Dogs are caged their entire lives, often with other dogs. Cage aggression is rampant. Dogs can develop repetitive behaviors such as circling incessantly, can become neurotic, and may eventually go insane. Unprofitable dogs are commonly killed inhumanely or abandoned.

These unfortunate dogs often:

  • become a disposable commodity
  • receive little or no veterinary care
  • are unprotected from the weather
  • live in crowded cages
  • endure filthy conditions
  • are vocally mutilated to end

An estimated 99% of puppies sold through pet stores and websites are from puppy mills.

Buyer Beware

At puppy mills profit is paramount so costs are often kept to the barest minimum. Overcrowding, poor health-management, and unclean conditions create an environment for parasites and viruses to flourish. A puppy may become sick after it is in your care. Many health issues require immediate, costly, and sometimes ongoing medical treatment for chronic conditions. Irresponsible breeding practices may cause undesirable personality traits and/or serious genetic defects to surface later. Dogs may not grow into the promised breed.

Don’t be Misled

  • Puppies are sold through:
    • websites (often offering many breeds)
    • pet stores
    • newspaper ads including those that read “No Sunday Sales”
    • signs posted in stores or along the road
    • brokers and dealers
  • Websites can easily misrepresent a mill as a high-end kennel and tout “lovingly family raised” with photos of puppies frolicking about… with no mention of the parents
  • Puppy mills are commonly found in remote locations, farms, woods – where dogs are hidden from the public’s eye. Housing can be a barn, rabbit hutch, chicken shed, hog house, garage, and basements
  • Just because a kennel has a license to operate and has been inspected does not mean its dogs are treated humanely, conditions at USDA-licensed kennels have been among the worst

Millions of dogs are euthanized in the US every year, please ADOPT, don’t shop! You can make a difference through your choices.

Buying Guidelines

  • See the puppy’s mother and her living conditions in person, before making a decision. Every puppy bought places demand on its mother to keep reproducing.
  • Make sure the mom is showing direct interest in the puppy so you know it is hers.
  • Don’t buy on impulse.
  • Research the seller through the Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law database or the Federal USDA website.
  • Reputable breeders do not sell through pet stores.
  • AKC and ACA are merely bloodline registries that profit greatly from registering puppy names but in no way means a puppy came from ethical breeding practices. Mills, websites and pet stores may use name registries as a selling tactic because the public assumes this indicates a reputable breeder.

Recommended Resources for Finding Your Next Canine Companion

You can be part of the solution! Be an advocate-learn about puppy mills and then share your knowledge. Become a United Against Puppy Mills volunteer and help us educate by tabling at events in your area. Spread awareness on social media, make a donation or hold a fundraiser to help us continue our efforts. Talk to your local, state and federal lawmakers about introducing and supporting legislation that would improve conditions in commercial kennels. Vote for legislators who support animal welfare. Use your voice to speak for these innocent dogs who can’t speak for themselves.