Puppy mills (also called puppy farms) are horrendous places that churn out as many puppies as possible in the shortest amount of time and at the lowest expense. That means terrible, filthy, crowded housing, minimal human contact, no veterinary care and unspeakable suffering.
Common features of puppy mills:
- 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
- Physical and mental suffering from long-term, extreme confinement and deprivation
- Animals receive little to no veterinary care
- No positive human interaction
- No toys, no exercise, no stimulation
- Puppies are not socialized to people, other dogs, household noises, etc.
As horrific as the experience is, the puppies are the lucky ones in a puppy mill. They (usually) make it out at a young age and have the chance at a new life full of comfort, care and love. Their parents live a life of suffering and deprivation as puppy-making machines, never having a soft bed, nourishing food, comfort or loving touch.
Read the official definition of a puppy mill that we developed with the National Companion Animal Coalition.
Where do puppy mills sell their puppies?
Many puppy mills sell directly to pet stores or to brokers. Brokers are the middlemen who gather puppies from various puppy mills and backyard breeders, often getting them as early as 5 or 6 weeks old and trucking them long distances to supply various stores.
Puppy mills also sell directly to the public through their own websites or via ads in internet or newspaper classified sections. They will usually offer to "save you a trip" by meeting you in a parking lot or other location to deliver your puppy to you. This is so that you don’t see the squalor where the puppy was raised. Some will simply ship the puppy to you. Amazingly, some puppy mills do invite people to come to their location, though they will usually allow them only in their house, not in the barns or outbuildings where the neglected dogs are kept.
How do I know if a breeder is responsible and humane?
You can only know by visiting them in person to see where the dogs are raised, bred and housed and to make sure they meet the criteria for ethical, responsible breeding.
Aren’t puppy mills illegal?
In Canada, we don’t have any laws specifically against puppy mills. But the worst puppy mills are in violation of animal cruelty laws due to the suffering and distress endured by the animals. The problem is that they are located in rural areas and are difficult for humane society or SPCA inspectors to uncover. When inspectors do find puppy mills, they are quick to take action to investigate. If you find or suspect a puppy mill, call your local humane society or SPCA or the police.