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What Are Puppy Mills?

How and Why to Avoid Buying from Puppy Farms or Puppy Mills

By Madeleine Burry. April 23, 2013 | See Comments

What Are Puppy Mills?

Puppy mills are often grim places where the health of the mother and puppies aren't tended properly. You may have heard terrible stories about the conditions, so how do you avoid supporting these organizations when you look for a puppy?

If you’re planning on getting a dog, you might be wondering where you’ll find this newest addition to your family. Shelters, pet stores, and breeders are the three major sources for puppies, but it’s important to spare a thought as to the conditions of your pet’s birth and avoid getting a dog born in a puppy mill. Why?

Find out about the problems surrounding puppy mills, and get advice on the best places to purchase or adopt your puppy.

What Are Puppy Mills?

A puppy mill is a place where dogs are bred with the main objective being to generate as many puppies as possible, as quickly as possible. This focus on sheer quantity leaves behind many important aspects of breeding including the comfort of the pregnant mom, attention to genetic factors, and the safety and health of the puppies-to-be. Sometimes puppy mills are called puppy farms; regardless of name, these breeding sites are generally grim places, with poor breeding practices. This holds true even if they have USDA certification and inspection. The puppy mill owner’s priority to sell lots and lots of dogs can lead to overcrowded conditions. Even beyond that, there is often a lack of attention to basic comforts like socialization, cleanliness, and grooming.

Why Should I Avoid Buying from Puppy Mills?

The often dreadful conditions for pregnant dogs and puppies at puppy mills are one major reason to avoid buying dogs born there. By avoiding purchasing your puppy through a puppy mill, you can play a part in preventing these businesses from being profitable.

A responsible breeder will pay attention to genetics as a major part of the breeding process, which helps to avoid puppies that are born with hereditary conditions. In contrast, genetics are frequently not a consideration at puppy mills, leading to puppies that are born with preventable diseases, such as hip dysplasia.

Once the puppies are born, the poor conditions and the overcrowding can often lead to the puppies getting diseases in the early weeks of their lives and developing behavioral problems from being poorly socialized. As an owner, that can mean taking home an adorable puppy who will either need treatment right away for a health problem, or who will develop hereditary diseases later in life.

How Can I Avoid Buying a Puppy from a Puppy Mill?

A surefire way to avoid buying a puppy from a puppy mill is to buy through a breeder or adopt from a shelter. A good breeder will place a priority on the dog’s future happiness, wanting to ensure that your home is comfortable and appropriate for the dog. If the person selling you a dog doesn’t seem to care about conditions at your home, or your readiness for a dog, that can be a good tip-off that you are purchasing from a puppy farm.

Shelter dogs are a great option because they are so in need of a good home. If your local pet store has an area devoted to a shelter and or rescue organization, and you can get your dog through such an organization, you can know that you are getting a dog in need of a good home, and are not supporting puppy mills. However, be wary of pet stores that are selling dogs directly, since it’s difficult to know the origins of those dogs, and there is a potential likelihood that the dogs came from a puppy mill. You’ll usually be able to tell the difference because representatives from a shelter will be on hand or the shelter’s logo will be clearly visible on the puppy’s cage or in signage nearby.

Spending a little time thinking about the life of your dog prior to your purchase or adoption can help to ensure that you’ll be getting a healthy dog, and that you are not funding a disreputable puppy mill.

More on Adopting and Buying Pets

10 Questions to Ask when Adopting a Dog
How to Foster a Cat
The Best Dog Breeds for Children

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