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The sad truth is that we live in a world where numerous facilities exist that directly or indirectly contribute to perpetuating animal abuse. Puppy mills are a perfect example. It is here that dogs are literally mass produced so that the breeders can rake in as much profit from the offspring as possible. Right now there are anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 USDA-licensed breeders operating in the United States. Some of these operations can be so large that they contain 1,000 breeding dogs at the same time. What’s not included in that figure is the number of unlicensed puppy mills that exist; the ones the USDA has not approved and does not know about.

While responsible breeders understand the importance of the parents’ health and careful genetic pairing to produce strong litters that will improve the breed, the operators of these puppy mills eschew quality in favor of quantity. Without the proper husbandry practices being followed at these mills, serious genetic flaws spread throughout the breeding pool unchecked.  More important is the abuse that runs rampant at these facilities.The mass breeding of dogs began asmeans for cash-strapped Americans to raise and sell puppies during the Depression. Raising puppies was less labor intensive and cost-effective for farmers, some of whom converted chicken coops and rabbit hutches to house breeding dogs and puppies. With the increase in the number of puppies being produced, puppy stores and puppy brokers came to fruition. Puppy mills continue to be a major problem in mid-western states such as Missouri and Nebraska, although all states have puppy mills and/or “backyard breeders” within their borders.

Conditions in Puppy Mills

  • Puppy mills may contain between 50 to over 1,000 dogs.
  • Dogs live in wire cages stacked on top of each other. Urine and feces fall through the cage floors onto animals below.
  • Puppies and breeding dogs in mills are given little water and food and no veterinary care.
  • Puppy mills do not have adequate temperature controls.
  • Only two or three people care for 500 or more dogs.
  • Inbreeding abounds and causes congenital and hereditary conditions.
  • “USDA-inspected” breeders may still be puppy mills. The USDA enforces the only federal animal welfare law pertaining to dog breeding, The Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  Care standards mandated by AWA are weak and seldom enforced.
  • Puppy Mill Puppies
    • Puppy mills may produce purebreds or “designer breeds” such as puggles and maltipoos.
    • Puppies and breeder dogs are raised in the absence of enrichment with no human interaction.
    • Many puppies are fed kibble laced with antibiotics to keep bacterial infection at bay. Meanwhile, they are not vaccinated against diseases like parvo virus or distemper.
    • Breeder dogs are forced to produce litter after litter until they die; they do not leave the puppy mill. Puppies may become breeders or are sold wholesale to pet stores.

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