Puppy mills are an unfortunate reality. Most folks are aware of their existence. But lots of folks would be surprised about the extent of the cruelty found within them.
I spent half a year working on the Puppy Mills Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States. There, I read countless department of agriculture inspection reports for commercial breeding operations. It was some of the most gut-wrenching work I have ever done. The contents of those reports rivaled the gore of fictional horror stories. Only they weren’t fictitious at all.
The legal term for a puppy mill is commercial breeding operation. With regards to regulating bodies, a puppy mill is not a real thing. That’s in part why it is possible for pet stores to tell you that their dogs don’t come from puppy mills, even if they actually do.
I have held in my hands the health certificates of puppies that originated at commercial breeding facilities and then were shipped to local pet stores more than 200 miles away. I have stood inside those same pet stores and looked their sales people in the eye as they assured me that they only work with local, family breeders. It’s wrong but it’s perfectly legal, which is why so many unsuspecting consumers continue to feed into this horrible industry.
My family purchased dogs from breeders when I was young. All of the trustworthy breeders I have known would never sell their dogs through pet stores. Trustworthy breeders want to meet their customers. No matter how good the sales pitch, your pet store puppy likely came from a puppy mill.
A puppy mill dog comes with a very high price tag. It may cost you more than you imagined if your puppy, like many, is severely sick when you take him home or if his poor breeding results in ongoing health issues. (Google “sick pet store puppies” for more stories). Even if you are lucky enough to walk away with a healthy puppy, your puppy’s momma and daddy dogs will continue to suffer an unspeakable fate.
Bottom line is that when you purchase a puppy mill dog, you are fueling the untold cruelty that commercial breeding operations get away with. Nursing moms with broken, infected, untreated jaws. Dead puppies that had frozen to death. These are just some of the words I found on inspection reports for puppy mills that continued to operate legally post-inspection. And these are some of the milder reports I read. Need to see it to believe it? Check out HSUS’ 2018 Horrible Hundred Report.
I am a firm believer in putting my money where my mouth is. That is why pet stores and websites are 100% NOT on my list of appropriate places to acquire a dog. National animal welfare organizations provide other tips to aspiring dog parents for how best to acquire a new best friend, and avoid a puppy mill scam. Of course, one of the easiest ways to help shut down puppy mills is to stop the demand for their product. Instead of buying, choose to adopt a perfectly good shelter dog!