Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health: Puppy Mills

Submitted article

Dear Buddy,

I keep hearing about puppy mills and how you shouldn’t buy puppies that come from them.  But what is a puppy mill?  Why shouldn’t you buy dogs from them?  How can you tell that a puppy came from a puppy mill?  What if I really want a specific breed, not just a mutt?


Dear Joe,

I’m going to roll my eyes and otherwise ignore that you said, “just a mutt.” To whom do you think you are speaking????  But enough about the joys and huge advantages of mutts.

“Puppy mills” would be more accurately named “puppy factory farms.” They are large commercial operations that breed purebred (and sometimes so called “designer breed” mutts) for profit, huge profits.  They are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture if they breed puppies for resale to pet brokers or pet stores.   But USDA enforcement efforts are underfunded and understaffed and largely ineffective. Plus, if large scale operations sell directly to the public, they are not subject to the federal Animal Welfare Act.  The problem with these operations is that they are not interested in the welfare of animals–they are interested in profits, and while we all like profits, not if it entails cruelty toward helpless puppies and their mothers.  Typically, breeding mothers are kept confined in cages for years and bred repeatedly until they are not longer profitable.  Puppies receive minimal health care if any and are often sold at a very young age so that their mother can start the cycle again.  I won’t go into detail here but you can find more information about these commercial operations and the problems they create at www.hsus.org or at www.StopPuppyMills.org.  You will be amazed and horrified.

Basically, you should not buy a puppy mill puppy because you are supporting this horrific, although perfectly legal, industry and you cannot be certain that you are buying a healthy puppy without genetic defects caused by inbreeding.

How to know whether a puppy has come from one these operations?  Most chain pet stores that sell puppies (and thank goodness that not many do around here anymore) buy them from these large commercial operations or from animal broker.  If a pet store tells you that its puppies came from a  small scale breeder, ask for verification and talk to that person to verify the claim.  If the puppy came from some other state it almost certainly came from a puppy mill.  If you go to a local breeder make sure it is not really a puppy mill by insisting upon meeting the puppies parents and seeing their kennels.  Most reputable small scale breeders are happy that you are being that careful and are proud to show off how well they care for the breed they love.

How to find a purebred dogs or puppy without relying on a pet store or local puppy mill?   First check the local shelters and rescue groups.   You can find most of them at www.petfinder.org and you will be stunned at how many have purebred dogs.  Sure you may not know much about the background of the dog, but every new dog has a “get acquainted” period, no matter where it comes from.  And you will be doing your part to help homeless animals.  If that doesn’t work out, don’t hesitate to search out a local breeder who specializes in the breed you are looking for.  A good source of referrals for breeders may be your own veterinarian, or check with a local or state breed club. Be sure to check out that breeder carefully and to get a written contract that spells out your rights if anything goes wrong.

P.S.  Don’t get me started again on the advantages, and handsomeness, of mutts.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: [email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org.

1 Comment

  1. We define a puppy mill as ANY facility that places profit above the health and welfare of the breeder dogs and the puppies.

    In a nation that euthanizes in excess of 5 million companion animals annually, there is no need to be pumping out puppies as if they were popcorn.

    Do the right thing – rescue or adopt.

    Give Hope to the Mill Dogs
    North Penn Puppy Mill Watch
    Visit Us Online: NPPMWATCH.COM

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