In the United States, there are places known as “puppy mills.“ These mills produce thousands of puppies and kittens that are sold in pet stores and online. Commercial breeder is the name these places prefer. Hundreds of these facilities have been raided nationwide and the suffering animals have been rescued. Yet, there are thousands more puppy mills still churning out puppies and kittens because people are still purchasing these animals at pet stores and online.
The USDA has jurisdiction over these facilities but enforcement of regulations is lax. For breeding purposes, dogs are considered livestock. Regulations are minimal as to the welfare of the breeding animals. Dogs and cats are also being bred to be sold to research facilities from these commercial breeding mills.
There are nearly 10,000 puppy mills in the United States. Many are run by unscrupulous and uncaring people. The cute puppies and kittens on display in pet stores are often the product of a greedy and cruel industry that is largely unregulated. These facilities are not illegal but they are inhumane.
Many of the breeding dogs (and cats, in some cases) are kept in deplorable conditions. After years of neglect, they either die or are killed when they no longer produce enough offspring to be profitable. Many of the breeding dogs live in tiny cages, typically in their own feces and urine. Some have only a wire bottom in the cage for the duration of their life which produces sores on their feet and bodies.
Many breeding animals have only minimal access to food and water. The vast majority never get exercise or medical attention of any kind. The females are forced to produce back to back litters for as long as their bodies can take the abuse. The breeding dogs’ bodies are often malnourished and diseased, some from head to toe.
They develop open sores, tumors and skin rashes, along with deformed bones from being crated for life. Their coats are so matted that their eyes are often completely hidden and their skin is ripped apart from the tightly tangled hair. Even in the harshest weather, many have little protection from the elements.
Members of my family have adopted several pets that were rescued from puppy mills. These animals were in desperate need of medical care when rescued. Gaining the trust of abused and neglected animals takes time and patience but, amazingly, these dogs still have the capacity to love humans. I have personally seen these dogs go from near death to being thriving members of the family.
Some cities, like Chicago, have made it illegal to sell puppies and kittens in pet stores unless they are “rescues.” Adopting a pet is a great option. There are millions of unwanted pets being killed in shelters annually in this country. By refusing to purchase any puppy or kitten other than a “rescue” from a pet store, you are helping to put puppy mills out of business for good.
Pet stores assure you that ALL their puppies and kittens come from AKC (American Kennel Club) approved breeders. In reality, nearly all puppy mills are AKC approved. Neither the AKC nor the USDA can even begin to police the thousands of puppy mills in the United States. Having the AKC stamp is just a piece of paper and only means that the puppies and kittens are so-called “purebred.” It says nothing about the kind of facility producing these animals nor the health of the animal or its parents.
HELP Stop the Cruelty!
- Never buy puppies or kittens at a pet store or online unless they are a rescue.
- Support rescue groups like National Mill Dog Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States.
- Report suspected puppy mills by calling 1-877-MILL-TIP (a hotline established by the Humane Society).