How to Find Out If Your Dog Comes From a Puppy Mill

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Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, according to the Humane Society of the United States. These businesses operate for the sole purpose of breeding and selling puppies. Not all commercial breeding operations are puppy mills. The term puppy mill is used to describe operations that keep dogs in substandard conditions without care for the health or well-being of the animals. Finding out if your dog is a puppy mill puppy allows you to take steps to safeguard its health and get involved in legislation and campaigns against puppy mills.

Gather information on how to identify a puppy mill and how to differentiate an ethical breeding practice from an unethical one. Ethical breeders feed their breeding dogs quality foods and provide them with outlets for play and physical activity. Puppy mill breeding dogs are treated poorly and rarely, if ever, allowed to play or exercise. An ethical breeder allows breeding dogs "time off" between litters. Puppy mill dogs are bred constantly.

Research the outlet from which you purchased your dog. Speak to a manager to find out what breeder or wholesale outfit the store uses to get its puppies.

Schedule a visit to examine the breeder or wholesale outfit that the shop cited as the source. If the breeder or wholesale outlet is reluctant to allow you to tour the facilities and meet the dogs, this is a possible sign that the business is a puppy mill. Ethical breeders encourage buyers to tour their facilities and meet one or both of the parents of their pups.

Find out if the supplier of your dog has a license for wholesale dog breeding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Speak with a representative from the USDA to determine if there have been complaints or disciplinary action against the breeder of your dog.

Call local rescue organizations in your area. These organizations often work with dogs that came from puppy mills, and the groups can share information with you. Your local chapter of the humane society may also be able to help.

Tips & Warnings

  • The biggest concern owners have once they have purchased a dog from a puppy mill is its overall health. Puppy mill puppies may not have the immunity required to fight off common diseases. Speak to a veterinarian and gather information about your dog's condition.
  • Many rescue organizations and dog shelters have puppy mill puppies available for adoption. These dogs may require extra attention, training or medical care. Though not required by law, the groups will routinely disclose whether or not the dog you are adopting comes from a puppy mill.
  • Knowingly purchasing a puppy mill puppy with the intent to rescue it does not do anything to decrease the demand for puppy mill puppies. It does the opposite. Work with your local humane society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals if you seek to rescue dogs from a local puppy mill.

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