What Is a Puppy Mill?

You can save lives today. Join Best Friends Animal Society in putting a stop to puppy mills.

A puppy mill is a “factory farm” for dogs. Even though more and more Americans are taking a stand against them, the U.S. still has about 10,000 puppy mills.

Many people don’t realize that when they buy a dog from a pet store or the Internet, that dog most likely came from a puppy mill. In puppy mills, dogs live in small cages, often in the minimum legal size allowed (only six inches larger than the dog on all sides) and female dogs are bred as frequently as possible.

Life in a puppy mill is no life for our best friends. Together, we can take a stand against puppy mills and make them a thing of the past.

Why puppy mills still exist

Puppy mills have been inhumanely breeding and selling dogs for decades. Although the federal government regulates most breeders who sell puppies online and to pet stores, the minimal standards imposed on breeders don’t promote responsible breeding or ensure healthy puppies. For example, it’s legal for licensed breeders to own 1,000 or more dogs, keep them in very small cages for their entire lives and breed them as often as possible.

The standards set by the government aren’t meant to ensure that the dogs have the good lives they deserve; they only require the bare minimum of care. Plus, there are only a few inspectors in each state for hundreds — sometimes thousands — of licensed breeding facilities.

Where are puppy mill dogs sold?

Pet stores: Nearly all pet stores that sell puppies are supplied by mills. More and more communities are banning the sale of mill-bred pets in stores, but many Americans are still unaware of the connection between pet stores and puppy mills.

Websites: Just like pet stores, most websites that sell dogs are selling mill-bred pets, and most of these sites market the puppies as well-bred and lovingly raised. No matter how convincing a website is, though, never buy a pet online.

Classified ads: For decades, the newspaper classifieds have been the first place that puppy buyers go to look for a new pet. Commercial breeders tap into this market easily by placing classified ads. Please beware of any ads that list several breeds for sale. And if the breeder won’t let you see where the dogs and puppies live, please don’t buy the puppy.

Best Friends’ puppy mill initiatives

Through Best Friends’ puppy mill initiatives, we are working to convince pet stores to offer pets for adoption instead of selling mill-bred pets, educate consumers about puppy mills, and create and lobby for humane legislation. Together, we’re making an impact and saving lives. Join us and help bring about a time when every dog can feel safe, happy and loved.

How to fight puppy mills

Nearly 5,500 animals are killed in U.S. shelters every day, simply because they don’t have safe places to call home. And one of the easiest ways you can help Save Them All is by choosing to adopt instead of purchase a pet.

When you adopt, you’re not only refusing to support puppy mills, you’re saving a life and giving an animal in need the second chance he or she deserves. If you’re looking for a particular breed of dog, no worries. Shelters and rescue groups have dogs of all breeds, ages, colors and sizes.

Here are a few other ways you can fight puppy mills:

  • Spread the word: Tell your friends, family and other people about puppy mills, and encourage them to adopt their next furry friend.
  • Donate to Best Friends Animal Society at bestfriends.org/donate.
  • Learn more about the puppy mill problem and get the tools and resources you need to help fight puppy mills at bestfriends.org/puppymills.

Together, we can Save Them All.

Download "What is a Puppy Mill?" brochure (PDF 1.28 MB)