Many people breed dogs. Thankfully, the large majority of these breeders provide good homes for the parents and the puppies and genuinely care about the breed. Unfortunately, there are other breeders who are not so compassionate. These are the owners of puppy mills – large scale breeding operations which care only about making a profit and, as a result, end up causing incredible suffering to thousands of innocent animals every year.
Animal control officials are becoming more aggressive by organizing puppy mill raids. During these raids officials visit alleged puppy mills to investigate the living conditions of the animals. Commonly, puppy mills include horrible living conditions for the animals, including providing insufficient food, not making clean water accessible, having improper shelter for animals living outside, keeping females caged in areas too small for them, and allowing the animals to live in filth. Puppy mill raids also find puppies and dogs in poor health, including animals with open wounds, animals who are severely malnourished, and animals who have never been socialized. If you want to see an example of what puppy mill raids are like, you can view a slide show of a May, 2006 puppy mill bust in Comanche County, Texas at http://www.atdr.org/info/display?PageID=2415.
In some cases, puppy mill raids come too late to save the female dogs who are kept as literal prisoners in the facility. From the first time these dogs come into heat, they are bred. Each time they come into heat again, they are bred. At this rate, it doesn't take long for the female dog to become so weak from the stress of having so many consecutive litters that she dies young.
What keeps these horrible puppy mills in business is mostly innocent folks like yourself who just want to find a new puppy for their home. That's why it's important for you to know what to look for when buying a puppy so you can avoid giving even a dime to these puppy mills, and hopefully make it harder for them to profit.
A few tips to help you avoid puppy mills:
- Go to the breeder's facility if possible and inspect the facility where the dogs are bred and housed. If you see a large number of dogs and puppies, if the animals look sick or injured, or if the animals are housed in disgusting conditions, you should leave immediately and report the location to the local animal control or humane shelter.
- Avoid pet stores – many pet stores receive their animals from puppy mills. That's because such puppies are cheaper and make a bigger profit. It's also easier than working with legitimate breeders who care about the buyers of their puppies.
- Ask to see the papers – What you really want are dogs registered through either the AKC or UKC. You will also want to look at the family tree to see how many litters the mother has produced compared to her age. A female dog goes into heat twice a year, but she should not be bred each time. A five year old female who has had eight or nine litters is a good indicator of a puppy mill.
If you want to learn more about puppy mills, you can download and view a short movie about these facilities for free at http://www.prisonersofgreed.org.