NO MORE PUPPY MILLS
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.
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.
This dog, rescued from a puppy mill, is suffering from a severe
case of untreated mange and a ruptured eye.
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.
This "brood bitch" will have many more
litters before she is killed.
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
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 like the ones in
this mill are common to the
Photo Credit: Animal Protection
Diseases Common to Puppy Mill
- Eye lesions
- Hip dysplasia
- Personality disorders
such as excessive aggression
This mill dog's body is covered with sores.
Her cage barely allows her room to turn
The Problem with Pet
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
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
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
The overcrowding common in pet
stores sometimes causes animals such as birds to beat up on one
Ailments Common to Pet Store
- Upper respiratory
The American Kennel
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.
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
- 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
- Distribute brochures
about puppy mills and pet overpopulation outside of pet
- Ask shopping mall
managers not to renew the lease of the pet store on their
- 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