What is a Puppy Mill?

A “puppy mill” is a breeding facility where dogs are bred purely for profit in large numbers.

Most, if not all, puppy mills treat their animals as money-making objects, and have little regard for their welfare. They view the dogs as a commodity, not as pets, so have no interest in spending money on the dogs’ comfort or well-being. The dogs are commonly housed in cramped, overcrowded, filthy, dangerous, and unhealthy conditions. They are not given opportunities for socialization, exercise or play. Food is usually of very poor (cheap) quality, and veterinary care, if any, is minimal. The dogs are treated poorly, mostly through neglect but sometimes through actual abuse.

Unlike a reputable breeder, a “puppymiller” pays little or no attention to a dog’s genetic deficiencies, overall health, or physical characteristics before allowing (requiring) the dog to produce young. Overbreeding and inbreeding are common, and genetic defects, health problems, and other undesirable attributes are passed down to the puppies. Mill pups born with obvious deformities or who sustain injuries are left untended or used to breed. Puppy mill dogs do not receive proper nutrition or adequate amounts of food, so they are prone to injury and disease through through weakened immune systems and bone development.

Since many of these problems are not detectable until a puppy gets older, the puppymiller can successfully sell adorable pups. Puppy mill puppies are sold directly to the public via the Internet, newspaper ads, or at the mill itself, under the guise of reputable breeding. They are also commonly sold to animal brokers and pet shops. That darling puppy you see playing in the window of your local pet shop almost certainly came from a puppy mill. 

Developmental, genetic, or other health or socialization problems are often not detected until a puppy gets older and has already been purchased. The new owners, if caring and loving, may be stuck with huge vet bills and/or a permanently handicapped dog. If the new owners are not so caring and loving, the dog may end up being abandoned or dumped at a shelter, where it will likely be euthanized if a rescue group cannot save it.

Just as heartbreaking are the dogs left behind in the puppy mills ‐ the adults who are forced to live out their lives in such conditions so as to produce puppies for sale. Even if rescued, these dogs’ health and socialization are often so poor that their lives cannot be saved, but at least they can be given some peace through humane euthanasia. Some puppy mill dogs can be rehabilitated, but it is usually a long, hard journey to bring the dog to good health and help him or her learn to become a “normal” dog.

For more information on puppy mills, please visit the links below.