Puppy mills and pet stores
Puppy mills are mass dog-breeding operations where pooches endure sub-standard care and are subjected to questionable breeding practices
What this means for unwitting pet store consumers is that many end up taking home dogs who may suffer from a variety of health problems that could include contagious diseases and genetic disorders. What begins as a love at first sight story quickly turns into something worse than a Greek tragedy.
Puppy mill operate like a factory
Top priority is producing the largest number of puppies for the least cost in the shortest amount of time.
From a business point of view, this means puppy-mill owners need to get the most from their female breeders for as long as she can breed while maintaining the lowest overhead possible (reduced food costs, reduced health costs, reduced housing costs).
Breeder dogs are bred and re-bred as soon and as often as possible. These practices lead to genetic defects such as hip dysplasia and deafness. To keep costs low and profits high means using the lowest and cheapest quality of food possible, with little time spent keeping crowded cages clean, setting out fresh water, and very minimal veterinary care. Because time is a factor, little socialization with people further damages these dogs, both emotionally and physically.
The long-term effects of an animal born at a puppy mill often doesn't become obvious for months or even years after the sale is final.
Many puppy mills go undetected by the law
Stopping puppy mills is easy: don't buy from them or pet shops that support them
Laws do exist to curb the most worst of these practitioners, but they often go undetected unless reported to the authorities. The only way to truly stop puppy mills is through simple economics. If people would stop purchasing these mass produced puppies, the puppy mills selling them would go out of business. It is tempting for any animal lover to want to save these cute little puppies they see in the dog-store window, in reality, these saviors are only putting more money into the pockets of those committing these horrible abuses—perpetuating the cycle.
How do you know a dog is coming from a puppy mill?
Insist on seeing litter mates and at least one parent
Pet stores are the obvious outlets for puppy millers, but they also sell dogs through newspaper classified and internet advertising. Look for newspaper ads that list multiple breeds at the same time. Puppy mill sales to individuals will usually only show you one dog at a time.
Wherever future pet parents choose to find their new dog, it’s important to remember that when it comes to purchasing a dog or any animal from a pet store, no matter how polite the staff, spotless the store or cute the puppies, what you see isn’t always what you get. Even if you ask the shop owner or the store clerks, you can't trust the answer—it just isn't their best interest to be that honest with you. What you get is most likely a puppy mill puppy
Things you can do to help stop puppy mills
Stop buying dogs from pet stores
Only buy from kennels selling only one recognized breed of dog. If buying a dog and the seller doesn't charge you sales tax, report them to your state sales tax bureau. Registered dog breeders are required to charge sales tax on all pet sales. If the person you're buying from doesn't collect sales tax, it's a good tip off. Contact your state representatives and insist they take action to enact new laws with stiffer fines / jail time for people convicted of animal abuse that is commonly found in puppy mill operations.
If you insist on buying a purebred dog, check the background of the breeder. Get referrals from vets, friends, or go to dog shows to find reputable breeders.