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What is a Puppy Mill?

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The concept of a puppy mill may seem foreign. Something that horrible couldn’t possibly be happening where we live. But the Puppy Mill Project, a group dedicated to ending puppy mill cruelty, states that there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills still open in the United States, and some of these are even licensed facilities.

What is a puppy mill?

A puppy mill is a dog breeding facility where profits are deemed more important than the welfare of the animals in their care. Female dogs are bred as often as possible and are often killed when they are no longer able to reproduce. The dogs are kept in small cages, often the smallest size legally allowable, which, according to the Best Friends Animal Society, is only the size of the dog plus an extra six inches on all sides. None of the dogs are given access to veterinary care, thus many of them have an array of health issues.

Photo by A.Chernyavskaya/

Why do puppy mills still exist and where are the puppies sold?

The main reason they still exist is that pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills. People continue to buy puppies from pet stores, instead of from reputable breeders, rescues, or shelters. A lot of puppy mills sell their puppies online as well. They’re very good at disguising their websites by stating things like “well-bred” and “from a loving home”. It can be difficult to distinguish between a puppy mill and a reputable breeder, but it’s usually best to stay away from buying online. If you are buying from a breeder, make sure to check out their facility prior to buying. If they refuse to let you see, don’t buy from them.

How can you help?

These conditions can’t and won’t change unless we stop supporting them and lobby for reform to the Animal Welfare Act. First and foremost, always get your dog from an adoption centre, rescue facility, or a reputable breeder who allows you to see the home they’re being kept at.

Contact your elected officials. Whether you’re in the US or Canada, you will have an elected official whose job it is to bring the peoples’ issues to Congress. The more people who contact their officials, the more likely it is that these conditions will change.

Photo by exegi/

If you have some extra money to spare, donating to the Best Friends Society, the Humane Society, the Puppy Mill Project, or any other organization dedicated to ending this cruelty is extremely beneficial to funding their projects. If you have some extra time to spare, many of these organizations need volunteers as well. You can find their volunteer pages here: Best Friends Society, The Humane Society, The Puppy Mill Project.

Remember: adopt, don’t shop.


Read more on puppy mills here.

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