Puppy Mill Dogs: How to Be Sure Your Next Dog Is Not From a Mill

Each year, millions of people buy puppies through the Web, pet stores and classified ads. Most believe they are getting a dog from a responsible breeder. The truth is that a huge number of these dogs probably came from puppy mills, whose owners count on people falling in love with their puppies either in the pet store or via adorable photos on the Internet.

Dogs from puppy mills

Don’t be a puppy mill's next customer: Educate yourself about how and where dogs from puppy mills are sold.

Websites: Puppy mill breeders have great-looking websites to help them sell puppies directly to the public. Beware of any site that sells dogs, especially if they offer to ship a puppy to you. No matter how convincingly the site portrays how well the dogs are cared for, the reality could be dozens or hundreds of dogs warehoused for breeding and living in poor conditions. Keep in mind that anyone can create a website; there is no guarantee that the information presented on it is factual. Sometimes, the breeder will proclaim right on the site that the business is not a puppy mill. Unless you see firsthand where your puppy comes from, trusting the content on a website is risky, since it’s the perfect place for consumer fraud to occur.

Pet stores: Stores sell puppies as though they are merchandise. The system is the same as any other product in a store: Puppies are raised with low-cost production methods in which corners are cut to maximize profits, sold to a broker or “middle man,” and delivered to retail stores to be bought by customers. It’s not uncommon for a breeder to sell a puppy to a broker for as little as $75, while the customer in the pet store pays well over $1,000 for that same puppy.

Classified ads: For decades, the newspaper classifieds have been the first place that puppy buyers look for a new pet. Commercial breeders tap into this market by placing ads. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, and consider it a red flag if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than the place where the dogs and puppies are raised.

The Adoption Option

With millions of animals entering shelters and rescue groups every year, anyone can find the perfect rescued puppy or dog if they simply take the time to look. It’s a sure way to avoid supporting puppy mills. Start by visiting your local shelter, where 25 to 30 percent of surrendered animals are purebred. If you don’t find the right pet there, go online at petfinder.com or adoptapet.com to search for pets at other shelters, as well as at rescue groups.

You can also contact local breed rescue organizations by going to google.com, entering a city or state, the breed you are looking for, and the word “rescue.” Caution: Breeders have caught on that more and more people are choosing to adopt instead of buy. If someone is “adopting out” several litters of purebred puppies, has “more on the way,” and doesn’t seem to have adult animals in need as well, proceed with caution. This person may be a breeder rather than an animal rescuer.

Remember, every pet adopted is a life saved. Thank you for helping to Save Them All.