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Puppy Mill

Approximately 500,000 puppies per year are bred in puppy mills, facilities known for their filthy, overcrowded conditions and the unhealthy animals they produce. Each of the 4,000-5,000 puppy mills in the U.S., most of which are located in the Midwest, houses between 75 to 150 breeding animals. Only half of the dogs bred at puppy mills make it to the pet store; the other half die from the mill's squalid conditions, hypothermia, starvation, or other horrors of transport. Cat breeding occurs on a smaller scale but under similar conditions. Most of the dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.

Mill Life
Puppy mill kennels generally consist of small, outdoor wood and wire cages or crates. The animals are cramped into filthy cages. Their eyes are filled with pus and their fur with excrement. Many of the puppies suffer from malnutrition and exposure; they usually remain outside year round, enduring both freezing temperatures in the winter and intense heat in the summer. Like pet store owners, breeders save money, and thus maximize profits, by spending little on food, shelter, and veterinary care. Puppies consequently receive below standard food, minimal if any veterinary care, and inadequate shelter which, combined with the inbreeding prevalent in puppy mills, produce animals with genetic diseases and abnormalities. Puppies' legs often fall through the bottom of their wire cages, causing additional injuries. Because they are mistreated (instead of socialized by humans) during an important developmental period, they may be excessively timid or ferocious and thus unsuitable as house pets.

Puppy Mill Dog
This dog, rescued from a puppy mill, is suffering from a severe case of untreated mange and a ruptured eye.

"Brood Bitches"
Dogs that are kept in puppy mills their entire lives are called "brood bitches." They are typically undernourished and receive little veterinary care, in spite of being kept perpetually pregnant. Their puppies are frequently taken from them before being weaned; as a result, some puppies do not know how to eat and die of starvation. At approximately six or seven years of age, when they can no longer breed more puppies, "brood bitches" are killed.

Brood Bitch


This "brood bitch" will have many more litters before she is killed. 






Puppy Mill Dog - Brood Bitch
The hind leg of this "brood bitch" was eaten off by another dog in a puppy mill. She lay for two days without medical attention -- even though the puppy miller was aware of her condition – and died in a hospital shortly after being rescued.  


Transportation and Sale
At four to eight weeks of age, puppies are taken from their mothers and sold to brokers (or retail businesses). The brokers then pack them in crates and transport them for sale at various pet shops. Frequently, the puppies are not provided with adequate food, water, ventilation, or shelter during transport; consequently, many die en route. Those that are not sold will be killed, brought back to the mill to breed, or sold to laboratories for research.

Cramped Filthy Conditions in Puppy Mills
Cramped, filthy conditions like the ones in this mill are common to the industry.

Photo Credit: Animal Protection Institute




Diseases Common to Puppy Mill Dogs

  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Cataracts
  • Eye lesions
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Retardation
  • Personality disorders such as excessive aggression
  • Dislocated kneecaps
  • Periodontal disease
  • Mammary tumors

Puppy Mill dog, body covered in sores


This mill dog's body is covered with sores. Her cage barely allows her room to turn around. 





The Problem with Pet Stores

Most of the puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. Purchasing pet store animals entails not only supporting the cruel puppy mill industry but also taking a home away from one of the 17 to 20 million unwanted animals who are killed each year.

Because of the inbreeding and filthy conditions common to puppy mills, they often produce animals with serious health problems, which typically result in hefty vet fees for adopters.

Pet stores generally do not socialize their animals; the puppies may consequently develop behavioral problems which make them far from ideal pets.

Most pet shops do not check the references or histories of their customers. They therefore send animals home with potentially abusive and irresponsible "owners" without taking even the slightest precautions.

Pet shops dispose of unsold animals in, at times, unscrupulous ways. For instance, former pet store employees have reported finding animals starved or frozen to death.

Cockroach and rodent infestation may spread disease to animals in pet shops.

The overcrowding common in pet stores sometimes causes animals such as birds to beat up on one another.

Ailments Common to Pet Store Puppies

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Upper respiratory disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Eye infections
  • Worms
  • Mange
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia

The American Kennel Club
Although the AKC claims to be devoted to advancing the health of purebred dogs, it typically spends only about 2% of its total yearly income on research towards that end. Moreover, AKC papers do not guarantee the value or health of a puppy. The organization does not try to work with breeders to improve mill conditions, perhaps because breeders pay the AKC millions of dollars in registration fees for purebred dogs each year.

The Law
Anti-cruelty laws are rarely enforced in the rural areas where most puppy mills are located. The United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for inspecting puppy mills to ensure that they are complying with the Animal Welfare Act, but kennels are inconsistently inspected. When violations are found, puppy mill operators are allowed to remain open while they remedy them. Repeat offenders often refuse to allow Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service workers to enter and inspect their facilities; those kennels sometimes remain licensed in spite of this noncompliance.

You Can Help

  • Adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group; never buy from a pet store. Remember that 25% of shelter animals are purebreds.
  • Do not shop at stores that sell animals.
  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue group.
  • Ask your elected officials to outlaw puppy mills. Urge them to demand that the USDA enforce the Animal Welfare Act. For your senators' and representatives' contact information, visit
  • Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers about the horrors of the puppy mill industry and its connection with pet stores.
  • Distribute brochures about puppy mills and pet overpopulation outside of pet shops
  • Ask shopping mall managers not to renew the lease of the pet store on their property.
  • Report pet store abuses to whomever is responsible for enforcing anti-cruelty laws in your town. Write a detailed statement of the abuses and take photographs, if possible.
  • Educate others about the cruelties of puppy mills and the importance of adopting from shelters

Help Us
Help Them!!


 Saving Furry Friends, Inc. is a non-profit-501(c)3 Rescue and Sanctuary. It is a Charity Organization. We operate solely on donations from loving caring people like you.

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Many Thanks~ Caroline & Critters 

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