Fluffy black and white terrier puppy

What Is a Puppy Mill?

A puppy mill is a "factory farm" for dogs, where profit takes priority over the health, comfort and welfare of the dogs. Even though more and more Americans are taking a stand against them, the U.S. still has thousands of 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 constantly, in order to produce as many puppies as possible for the retail pet trade.

Life in a puppy mill is no life for our best friends.

Watch and share this video. 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 all of the state's 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. Please beware of any ads that list several breeds for sale. And if the breeder won't let you visit so that you can see where the dogs and puppies live, you are likely dealing with a puppy mill.

No matter how convincing a website is, the best way to ensure that you're not supporting a puppy mill is never to buy a pet online.

Classified ads: Unscrupulous breeders will often place classified ads on mainstream websites, offering purposely bred animals for "adoption." Sadly, many of these ads are scams and countless people have been deceived. Red flags to look for include a high adoption fee, a cash-only transaction, several breeds of puppies for adoption, and any offers of a free puppy shipped to your door with payment of a transport charge.

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

More than 1,000 dogs and cats were killed in U.S. shelters every day in 2023, simply because they didn'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.

Ready to do more? Here are a few other ways you can fight puppy mills:

  • Take action to fight puppy mills:  Learn more about the puppy mill problem and get the tools and resources you need to help fight puppy mills.
  • Spread the word: Download this flyer and share it with your friends, family and other people about puppy mills, and encourage them to adopt their next furry friend.
  • Donate to Best Friends Animal Society.

Together, we can Save Them All.