Puppy mills throughout the United States are a huge problem. According to puppy mill statistics from The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are currently 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, and they produce more than 2 million puppies per year. In Missouri alone, there are estimated to be 2,000 puppy mills.
Puppy Mills Across the United States
The number of puppy mills in the United States is staggering. Estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000 commercial dog breeding facilities, most of which are small operations that sell dogs online or through ads in local newspapers. Puppy mills don't just exist in rural areas; they're found across the country, even in big cities like Los Angeles and New York City.
There's no way to know how many puppies come from puppy mills because they aren't required to be licensed or inspected by any federal agency. However, experts say it's safe to assume that many pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills because those places are cheaper than reputable breeders and supply a steady stream of animals for sale without hassle or delay (which is not true with well-run breeders).
If you suspect that you've purchased a puppy mill pet, take steps now: look up your state's law concerning animal cruelty, contact your local humane society, and report what happened on social media using hashtags like #stopthepuppymills. The Humane Society of the United States also has an online report form available for parties to file a complaint against a breeder or puppy mill with poor practices.
Puppy Mills Prioritize Profit
Puppy mills are a type of dog breeding facility that prioritizes profit over well-being. In nature, dogs have litters of two to 10 puppies, but in puppy mills, they may have litters of 12 or more puppies. Puppy mills often have many different breeds of dogs, and the dogs live in cages where they are bred until they can no longer reproduce. An estimated 4 million dogs are born at puppy mills each year. Between 50 and 70 percent of dogs in animal shelters are purebreds. Pet stores rely on puppy mills for puppies to sell.
When a female dog is used as a breeding machine, she is forced to endure being bred over and over until she dies. Her body can't keep up with the constant pregnancies, so she will often die early from complications due to constant breeding.
The dogs are not allowed to rest between pregnancies or recover from giving birth; they are forced into another pregnancy as soon as possible so that they don't have time to bond with their puppies or develop healthy social relationships with other dogs. They aren't given time for play outside of their cages, or even taken out for interaction with humans or other animals. The only interaction these dogs get is when someone comes in and grabs them for another "breeding session."
General Facts About Puppy Mills
Many puppy mills are hidden from public view, so it's difficult to know if you're supporting one when you buy from a pet store or online. To help understand puppy mills, check out the facts:
- There are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, but only roughly 3,000 are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
- A study by The Humane Society found that nearly half of all pet store puppies come from puppy mills and it's important to know how these operations work so you can help prevent them from continuing their business practices.
- Puppy mill dogs often have diseases like parvovirus, distemper, and parainfluenza, which can be transmitted to humans when people come into contact with them as well as bacterial infections like kennel cough and giardia. They also often suffer from malnutrition, which can lead to long-term health problems such as hip dysplasia and heart disease.
Puppy Mills Aren't Black and White
In the U.S., puppy mills have been defined as large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities that sell puppies to pet stores and online retailers. While these types of breeding facilities can be legal, they must comply with certain standards of care for the dogs and puppies they house.
For example, it is illegal for puppy mills to keep their dogs in unsanitary conditions or to deprive them of adequate food or water. The minimum standards for care are outlined by the Animal Welfare Act, which was put into place by Congress in 1966 and amended several times since then.
The legal status of puppy mills is a complicated one. The first problem is that there is no law against operating a puppy mill. This means that even if someone were to open up a puppy mill, they could not be charged with any crime. The only way they could be charged with a crime would be if they committed some other offense in the course of running their business, such as animal cruelty or tax evasion.
The next problem is that there are no federal laws governing how many animals can be kept in one facility at any given time. So while it may be illegal to have more than six dogs in one house, it's perfectly legal to have hundreds of dogs in one house as long as they're not confined to cages or crates 24/7, which all too often happens anyway.
The third problem is that there are few laws governing who can sell puppies from their own homes or businesses. So even if there were laws on how many dogs can be kept in one place, those laws would still not apply if you're selling from your own home and yet again, this happens all the time.
Make a Difference
If you want to help make a difference, there are many ways that you can get involved in the fight against puppy mills. You can volunteer at local shelters or rescue groups, donate money or time, get involved in legislative efforts, and spread awareness by sharing this article with family and friends. If you are looking for a puppy, take your time to look around and spot potential puppy mills or backyard breeders. The fewer people that support puppy mills, the fewer puppies adopted by these facilities.