What Is A Puppy Mill? The Real Cost Of Buying A Puppy.

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What Is A Puppy Mill? The Real Cost Of Buying A Puppy.

If you think buying a puppy is a good idea – it is usually not! Most dogs for sale come from what is called a puppy mill – also known as hell on earth.

What Is A Puppy Mill?

A puppy mill is a large commercial dog breeding operation that has people putting profits over a dogs health. Often these puppy mills will get very little care for their breeder dogs leaving them sick and ridden with health problems that may transfer to their offspring.

Puppies that are born in a puppy mill are often ripped from their parents to early which can result in health and behavioral issues.

Update: June 2021 – ASPCA sues USDA for their lack of enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Read the full press release here.

The lawsuit stems from the fact that the number of violations issued by USDA for has fallen dramatically over the years. This lack of enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) means dogs are not being watched and breeders do not have to do what is right since no one is watching them.

To put this into perspective, in 2014 there were 1,994 violations issues but in 2020 just 154.

This needs to change and I am thrilled the ASPCA is doing this.

Below is everything you need to know about where those adorable puppies come from and why you should avoid this option for getting your next pet.

So, you want a puppy – that is GREAT – every family should be able to enjoy the love of a dog! There is nothing like a puppy to bring a new sense of excitement, love and happiness to a home.

Most potential puppy owners will run to a local or online pet store to pick out just the perfect pooch, because that is all they know. In the pet store they will see cages filled with the cutest happiest puppies ever —- online they see pictures of adorable pups frolicking in the grass or enjoying a nap in a beautiful home.

They pick out the perfect puppy, pay hundreds or thousands of dollars – and then get home and begin to live their life together ……. but what is the real cost of that puppy they just purchased from a pet store?

The Real Cost of Buying A Puppy

First – we have the price of the puppy.

Pet stores can pay as little as $75 per puppy from a puppy mill – and they then turn around and charge you sometimes hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

That is a whole lot of profit for the breeders which is why it is such a popular thing to do.

The only way we can stop it is to get people to STOP purchasing puppies from these places.

Second – is the cost of freedom.

A very large majority of puppies for sale come from horrific breeding facilities where dogs are kept in filthy cages and cramped with multiple dogs per cage. They never feel the grass – see the sun or enjoy fresh air.

Think about this for a life:

  • Never seeing the outside of a cage or crate
  • Being kept with several other dogs every moment of your life in a 2’x2′ box – often fighting because of the stress and suffering
  • If you are a female you are bred EVERY cycle until you can no longer reproduce and then you are murdered – sometimes in horrific ways
  • No healthcare ever, if you get hurt – you suffer, you are just a product
  • Love? What is that?
  • Never enjoying a roll in the grass or a glimpse of the sun
  • Some will never experience fresh air – you will live in feces filled cages and boxes until you die

This is exactly what you support when you purchase a dog. You can try to convince yourself that the puppy store you just went to is a “good” one, but there is no such thing. This is the reality of where your new puppy is coming from.

Third – are the illnesses that many store bought puppies develop.

Because of poor breeding practices by puppy mills, many dogs arrive at stores with illnesses that may not show for weeks or months after purchase. Unsanitary facilities, no medical care for the parents and inbreeding are just a few of the reasons puppies often arrive ill to their new owners. Sadly, most pet stores fail to take responsibility leaving you with the burden of the cost to bring them back to health – if that is even an option.

Here is a great example of the impact of these illnesses. The CDC has stated that a bacterial outbreak that affected people in 7 states was caused by pet-store puppies. UPDATE: The infection has spread and is antibiotic resistant.

So, what does this mean to the purchaser of a puppy?

  1. Because of the significant filth and horrific conditions they are born in – puppies often arrive to pet stores very sick.
  2. Congenital issues are greatly increased in puppy mill puppies because of improper breeding practices. Sisters and brothers can be reproducing, dogs that are sick can be reproducing – breeders do not care, it is all about the money.
  3. Puppies are often removed from the parents way before it is recommended which can result in major behavioral issues.
  4. Diseases such as Parvo, Epilepsy, Respiratory issues and so many more are often associated with puppy mill puppies. They are costly to treat and can often lead to death.

Unfortunately, puppy mills are not required to be licensed or inspected leaving greed hungry people to use animals as a money machine. The Animal Welfare Act does have some amendments that protect pets under certain circumstances, but puppy mills have not yet been addressed.

Puppy Mills In The News

Here is a very small list of puppy mill rescues so you can see the tremendous work involved and how rampant this issue is. These are the same places that pet stores and many “breeders” get their puppies from. If you visit a breeder who shows you a clean house and a beautiful puppy — you still do not know if they have another facility where these dogs are actually kept, you really need to do your due diligence!

When you buy a puppy this is what you are supporting:

Worth County, IA – 170 dogs, November 12,2018

Evensville County TN – 100 small dogs, October 11,2018

Greenville, TX – 93 dogs, 22 puppies and 2 cats, September 2017

Dothan, AL – 64 dogs rescued from puppy mill, March 2017

Madison County, AR – 295 dogs, March 2016

Cabarrus County, NC – 105 dogs, 20 cats & 3 goats, September 2016

Atlanta, GA – 60 dogs, 1 rabbit and 53 lizards, September 2017

what is a puppy mill

Tonopah, AZ – 129 dogs saved, November 2015

Licensed breeder – 74 dogs saved, Macon GA – September 2015

Kankakee, IL – 80 dogs saved, April 2015

Clewiston, FL – 100 dogs saved, November 2015

Manhattan, NY – 10 dogs saved, February 2015  ( yes, this is a big city issue as well)

Choctaw, AL – 130 dogs saved, March 2015

Los Angeles area, CA – almost 200 dogs saved, February 2015

Oscoda County, MI – 50 dogs saved, December 2015

Madison County, AR – nearly 200 dogs saved, March 2016

Want proof of where these puppies wind up? 

Furry Babies Pet Store Faces Lawsuit For Selling Sick Puppy Mill Puppies – Chicago, IL

Fancy Pups Owner Charged With Animal Abuse & Neglect – Avenel, NJ

Petland – reviews and stories of sick puppies

Elite Puppies in MA closed – read the complaints of sick animals they sold

Chelsea Kennel Club – Manhattan, NY

The Vice president of the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response, Tim Rickey, released the following statement during a Clewiston, FL rescue.

“… Many people are unaware that most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and that buying pet store puppies indirectly supports these facilities,” Rickey said. “While the puppies are sold for profit, their parents are kept at these mills for years, subjected to incessant breeding and a very poor quality of life. Our goal is to remove these dogs from a life of neglect, help them become healthy and eventually find them safe and loving homes.”

Here is a video from a 2011 puppy mill bust – it is important to be aware of how these dogs are kept and treated. This is just a typical example of a puppy mill — many are even much worse than this one. But to really understand the level of abuse in puppy mills – not only to the parents, but to the puppies they will be selling, everyone should watch this video.

And if local pet stores are not bad enough – now we have “internet puppy stores”.

This is even worse because you are buying without seeing or knowing anything about where your dog will be coming from.

Where Do I Get A Puppy Then?

Great question! We will follow up with a future post on more in depth options for finding purebred puppies if that is really what you want. (Personally we love mutts!) – but we understand that some do want specific breeds.

Also – if you think you are safe buying from the American Kennel Club think again. We did some in-depth research into the AKC Marketplace and what we found was rather disturbing.

But here are a few quick resources:

Breed specific rescues – very often they can find or may even have puppies for adoption. If you can be patient, ask them to contact you as soon as some puppies become available. Just search “the breed you want rescue” to find rescues local to you.

Shelters – yes, shelters can often find you and may even have puppies! All you need to do is ask.

Veterinarians – ask veterinarians for referrals for breeders. If a breeder is taking their dogs to the vet, it is a great sign they care more about the dogs than the profit!

Now I Am Crying and Want To Help – What Can I Do?

YAY! Well, we are sorry we made you cry of course but are thrilled you care enough to help. We sincerely believe a majority of people who are still buying dogs do not know about puppy mills. (Even the owner of CharityPaws has bought animals in the past – until she learned about the horrible practices)

Only through education can we make change – the laws are not as strict as most animals would like and it can take years to even take down a puppy mill legally. So it is up to US to educate everyone we know — if we can each change 1 mind – we can take down the puppy mills by removing the need for them to reproduce!

Contact your federal legislators and let them know how you feel about puppy mills! Attend local events and share information and talk to people – let them know this is a big issue!

Eventually, we hope every puppy mill will be removed and we can have licensed and inspected breeders so dogs can be safe, happy and healthy!

Jill Caren CharityPaws

Jill Caren

Jill is an avid animal lover who spends her time helping animal rescues by photographing homeless pets and through her work on CharityPaws.

She is currently owned by Cleo, an American Pit Bull Terrier and Snoopy Cat. Her inspiration comes from her girls Ginger and Riley (RIP) – pit mix sisters who were loved family members for almost 15 years.

You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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6 thoughts on “What Is A Puppy Mill? The Real Cost Of Buying A Puppy.”

  1. Hello! I’m just wondering why do ppl have this puppies or whatever and don’t give them away or sponsor them- if they can’t or don’t have room for them? It’s sickly!

  2. This is so sad! I really hope puppy mills end this is horrific I can’t even imagine my fur babie there!

  3. This is a great article! I am currently on the puppy search for my mother. She wants a small breed fluffy puppy (which go very fast in rescues). We have been doing a lot of research to make sure that whatever puppy we find (if not from a rescue) comes from a responsible breeder. Thank you for helping educate about the realities of puppy mills and some pet stores. And I hope that progress continues to be made it eliminating support for puppy mills. I love that the big “pet stores”, like Petsmart and Petco, advertise rescue cats/kittens in their stores. I love my own rescue pup!

  4. Wow. I AM sitting here with tears and I do know of puppy mills, but to see this video…I was riveted…to see how horrible these dogs were treated – or not treated in some of their cases where the dogs are deceased, and to know that this is just one of so many puppy mill breeders, is just shocking. Everyone who thinks of adding a pet to their family should see this. Thank you for your awareness. Education *is* key. I’m sharing and Pinning this very important article. One day, I pray there are no more puppy mills and much stricter laws to protect our animals. Now, I need to go get some tissues. ;-(

    • Thank you so much Dorothy — education IS the key. There is a lot of awareness of course within the pet community, but not to those in the outside world and that is where we want this message to be seen! Now, dry those tears and get spreading the message so YOU can make a difference to get this so called industry to just go away! 🙂