When you go to a large pet store, you often see puppies in their little cages available at a very large price. Where do these puppies come from, though? Pet stores are very good at hiding the ugly truth of the puppies’ backgrounds. Unfortunately, the majority of these puppies come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are large-scale breeding facilities who care more about profit than the puppies. If you were to ask the pet store where the puppy came from, they often reply with “I don’t know” or “a responsible breeding facility.”
Puppy mills house dogs and puppies in extremely unsanitary conditions with the minimal amount of veterinary care. Most puppy mills do not even consult with a veterinarian unless they believe they have an extremely valuable asset on their hands which is going to ensure them a great deal of revenue. They also have a minimal amount of food and water to save on costs and are not socialized. To maximize profits, mother dogs are not given an adequate amount of recovery time between litters resulting in poor health and sometimes death. If they do not pass away due to poor health and are no longer useful to the puppy mill, they are put down immediately to save on costs.
The conditions of puppy mills are devastating. If you were to visit a puppy mill, you would see cages stacked upon cages with dogs’ and puppies’ feet pressed against the hard wires of each cage. You would also see them sitting and laying in their own waste and dogs with fur so matted they are not able to see. You would see dogs so thin you could see the outline of their bones. You would see dogs with sores and/or blind from suffering in the conditions they are placed in.
Genetics is not a concern to puppy mills. When you look for a purebred puppy, you often wonder what their genetics line is to ensure they were bred properly. At a puppy mill, dogs are bred improperly which results in congenital and hereditary conditions. It is not uncommon for a puppy mill puppy to develop heart disease and/or respiratory disorders at a young age. Puppy mill puppies may also have some type of illness which is not noticed until several weeks after purchase. Behavioral problems are also an issue with puppy mill puppies and dogs as they do not experience any type of socialization which results in fear and anxiety.
Research states there are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the United States; however, there is no true way to know how many puppy mills there are. There is no legal definition for a puppy mill so there is no way to establish the existence of a puppy mill. Once a puppy mill is discovered, the ASPCA and other non-profit organizations join together to dissolve the puppy mill and save all of the adult dogs and puppies. With rehabilitation, the adult dogs are often able to be adopted.
How can you help? Great question! You can help simply by purchasing your puppy or dog from a shelter. There are so many dogs and puppies searching for forever homes in shelter and rescue organizations. You can also help spread the word about puppy mills so everyone understands the severity of these large-scale organizations. Take the pledge to stop puppy mills with the United States Humane Society.