Puppy Mills

Puppy Mills is a label used loosely to name a group of breeding facilities.  It includes Amish operations, “reputable” show breeders who have a behind the scenes operation to mass produce puppies, some large multi breed kennels, and amateur “backyard” breeders out to make a buck.

Some of these may be better than others but none are good.  The worst are a living hell, more for the parents of litter after litter with little care.  All are guilty the following to a greater or lesser degree:

  • Inadequate housing-some are only allotted a small crate they cant even stand in.
  •  Unsanitary conditions
  • No heat or ventilation for hot weather
  • lack of fresh water
  • little or no medical care
  • no genetic screening or care to prevent congenital problems
  • minimal care and immunizations for puppies before sale
  • lack of socialization

Why does this continue to happen?


  • An estimated 167,388 breeding dogs are currently living in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed commercial facilities for breeding purposes this very moment.*
  • There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States (this includes both licensed and unlicensed facilities).

* These statistics are sourced from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) 2014 Puppy Mill Facts and Figures report (available here) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Pet Statistics (link here).

  • There are two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in puppy mills: (1) pet stores, and (2) the Internet.
  • Nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for puppy mills and are essential for keeping puppy mills in business.
  • Both licensed and unlicensed mills sell to pet stores (many mills sell to pet stores without the required license and are not held accountable).

A breeder only needs a federal license if he or she sells the dogs sight unseen, i.e., through a middleman like a pet store or a puppy broker. But if the seller deals directly with the puppy’s buyer, either selling face to face, through classified ads or, increasingly, via pop-up websites, there is little or no oversight of their business.

Federal law does not regulate breeders who sell puppies directly to the public, though state cruelty and neglect laws usually require adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care for sick animals.

“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal organization charged with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, which sets basic standards of care for certain kinds of animals bred for commercial resale. The USDA admits to a deficient and problematic record in the inspection of dog breeding facilities. There are a greater number of facilities than the number of inspectors to visit these facilities. Often times, breeders are allowed to perform self-inspections. In May 2010, the USDA’s Inspector General issued a scathing 69-page report addressing failures in inspection practices.” (quoted from animalrescuecorps.org )

The report PDF report can be downloaded here.

A couple times a year old, sick and unwanted breeding stock is auctioned off.  One of the biggest is Southwest Auction Services in Missouri.  They don’t go cheap, as long as they may have another litter or two left other millers will bid them up.  A group I work with saved an 8 year old Brussels Griffon female for $2,000.  She has Pyometraan infection in the uterus, and probably have died if sold to another puppy mill to continue to be bred.  She is being treated, will be spayed soon and live a happy life in the future filled with love.

Rescues who do this are derided by groups like HSUS. They accuse outfits like these of putting blood money into the pockets of the breeders. The money spent will buy a lot of new breed stock – for every dog  they save, dozens will suffer,  That is true, but do you just leave these unfortunate dogs to be sold to other millers?  That does not stop or slow the problem!

How to Help the Dogs
Be an advocate

Watch HSUS’ free webinar: “Banning the Sale of Puppy Mill Dogs at Local Pet Stores.”

Download “An Advocate’s Guide to Stopping Puppy Mills” »   This offers a detailed guide on working for passage of laws in your own community that will improve the lives of dogs in puppy mills.

Contact your legislators

Contact your federal legislators and let them know that you’re concerned about the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and want the puppy mill issue to be a priority for Congress. Ask them to expand the reach of the Animal Welfare Act to include kennels that sell large numbers of puppies directly to the public.


Puppy Mills

About Puppy Mills