A dog can be a wonderful addition to your life, providing companionship, fun and affection for many years. For the sake of your new furry friend, you need to make a smart, informed choice on what kind of dog would suit your personality and lifestyle and where to find your new pet.
Puppy mills (also called puppy farms) are horrendous places that churn out as many puppies as possible, in the shortest time and at the lowest expense. That means terrible, filthy, crowded housing, minimal human contact, no veterinary care and unspeakable, heartbreaking animal suffering.
Avoid puppy mills by recognizing their most common features, including:
- Animals kept in crowded, filthy barns, sheds, or basements
- Often, cages are piled in stacks and the waste from the upper levels falls onto the ones beneath
- Unbearable stench of ammonia from urine and feces build-up
- Animals are fed the cheapest possible food
- Breeding dogs are bred continuously from a young age till they can no longer produce enough to make it worth keeping them alive
- Physical and mental suffering from long-term, extreme confinement and deprivation
- Animals receive little or no veterinary care
- No positive human interaction
- No toys, no exercise, no stimulation
Additionally, avoid pet store and brokers - who often buy dogs directly from puppy mills. Brokers are the middlemen who gather puppies from various puppy mills and backyard breeders, often getting them far too young (at 5 or 6 weeks old) and trucking them long distances to various stores.
Puppy mills also sell directly to the public through their own slick websites or ads in internet or newspaper classifieds. They will usually offer to save you the trip of picking up the puppy from them by meeting you in a parking lot or other location to deliver your puppy. This, of course, is so that you don’t see the squalor that the puppy came from. Some will simply ship the puppy to you.
Amazingly, some mills do invite people to come to their location, claiming to be breeders. They will usually allow them only in their house, not in the barns or outbuildings where the neglected dogs are kept. If you're considering purchasing a dog from someone claiming to be a breeder, ask to see where the dogs are raised, bred and housed to make sure that they meet the criteria for ethical, responsible breeding. Learn more here.
If you find or suspect a puppy mill, please report it. Call your local humane society or SPCA or the police immediately.