Puppy mills, also known as puppy farms, produce puppies en-mass for profit. These so-called breeders have no interest in the breed or welfare of the pups. Conditions are often horrific; the puppies are neglected and often in poor health.
Learn how to avoid puppy mills with these simple steps and tell-tale signs to be aware of to help you identify the breeder you're dealing with is a puppy farmer!
Before we go on to learn how to avoid puppy mills, let's clarify why you shouldn't buy from puppy mills. I won't keep you long, I promise!
You may not know it, but many puppies bought from these places have serious health issues due to sheer neglect.
Many of these puppies don't even reach the age of six months!
During this time, you are likely to have shelled out considerable amounts of cash on vet bills and endured much sadness and heartache watching the pain and suffering of your little puppy.
Please don't think that by buying a puppy from one of these farms, you'll be helping to rescue an ill-treated and unhealthy puppy.
Wrong. You are allowing farms like these to thrive and continue their cruel breeding practices.
Following the advice below will help you avoid accidentally buying a puppy born and raised in one of these cruel breeding kennels.
Puppy farmers are eager for your money and will take extreme measures to pull the wool over your eyes.
So, how can you be sure you're buying from a responsible breeder?
When you arrive at the breeder's premises, look around you. There may be some obvious warning signs that you could be dealing with a puppy farmer, for example:
Although the puppies may look healthy, you can't be sure where pet shop puppies were bred and born, nor can you be sure of their pedigree.
Puppy mills often supply pet shops with puppies for sale.
Sometimes pet shop pups are bred by inexperienced individuals (back-yard breeders - not to be confused with hobby breeders) who don't have the welfare of the puppies at heart; they only want to make money.
If you're replying to an advert, read it very carefully.
Or did the advert simply give the bare facts?
If you decide to answer an advertisement, answer the advert that contains the most information and gives a kind and loving description of the puppies.
Detailed information and a loving description show that the breeder cares greatly about their puppies and is unlikely to let their precious pups go to any Tom, Dick or Harriet.
Consider adopting a rescue dog (or, if you're lucky, a puppy!) from your local Cocker Spaniel rescue centre.
Breeders are often looking for caring homes for their dams when they've reached their breeding limit. If this interests you, you should register your interest with one or two local breeders.
Vigilance and careful questioning will help separate the puppy farmer from genuine, responsible Cocker Spaniel breeders.
Take your time, ask your questions, and make your assessment. Don't be rushed or 'backed into a corner'.
Never accept a puppy without first seeing where it was born, the mother and its siblings, and if they offer to deliver your puppy, be firm and insist you call to collect it.
If any of this appears to be a problem for them, thank them and move on, you're probably dealing with a puppy mill owner!
You can read more about puppy farms here (including a video of a puppy mill raid in Tennessee).
Here's a link to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) if you'd like more information on how to avoid buying from puppy mills.
And if you're in the UK, here's a link to the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which explains what they are doing to help put a stop to puppy farms.
I received this letter from one of our visitors. It makes quite a lot of sense, so I posted it here.
I have been reading and telling the story of shunning puppy mills for 40 years, and they are still with us. Education and awareness will not make them disappear because there are too many unwitting people worldwide.
However, there are hints of ways to make possible changes that will greatly help the situation. The public push for regulation and enforcement has been an important impetus for change, but we need more.
A family member got me a pet shop puppy as a gift when I was going through a very rough time in my life. That is generally an unwise thing to do, but my dog is a gem and did make me feel better.
The pet shop had him well-socialized and kept him clean and exercised. They sold to anyone but required the buyers to fork over several thousand dollars up-front, giving the buyer one year of free vet care at a local clinic and an agreement to neuter.
I think something like this as a law would go a long way in stopping impulse buys and ensuring proper puppy care and population control.
My puppy came with up-to-date vaccinations because the law required the seller to carry vaccinations and prove them by affixing the inoculation sticker to the paperwork as solid proof.
My family member signed a contract that included a 'waiver' of existing animal welfare laws, such as laws in place that require ensured health or remedy of taking animals back. Such laws should be universal, unable to be waived and strictly enforced by all who sell puppies.
Those selling purebreds with known testable health problems should be required to test the parents for these problems before they can breed from these dogs. They should be required to disclose certification that the parents are clear of such defects or fully disclose any defects.
My puppy came with paperwork that gave the name of the breeder. Sadly I tracked this down and realized it was on the list of 'the horrible hundred' puppy mills. In the past, this puppy mill had a fire that killed an unknown number of animals breeding in a barn. These kennels have been cited in the past for poor conditions and poor animal health.
Thanks to the Inspectors issuing citations with follow-up, some changes have since been made, but there needs to be more accountability.
I found online pictures of what I think were my pup's parents. The mother is sitting in a stain-soaked plywood whelping box/dog house leading to a catwalk with metal chain-link-fence-like flooring.
Some of the cited dogs had blisters on their feet from walking on cage bars. I love my pup very much, but I am saddened to think of its mother living in such conditions and the fate of all his many brothers and sisters.
In the past, I have worked with responsible breeders on top of their litters; they tested for health, were willing to take animals back and let buyers know if an issue developed with the parents or litter mates that might reflect on the pups.
Working with a conscientious breeder who will keep in touch with you and help you train and work with your pet is by far the preferred method.
Website Author and Owner
Hello, You don't give your name, but I would like to thank you for contributing to my page. I wholeheartedly endorse all you say.
Your ideas for eradicating these unsafe and wicked practices are sound, and I would love to see them fulfilled; however, it's not something that you or I can do alone. We need to get more people on board.
Keep telling your story about shunning the puppy mills (and I'll continue to write about them), and who knows, eventually, we may be able to help close many down.
Value of organizations
Thank you. I have since learned that the favourable laws and changes I saw were thanks to a hard-fought legal battle by local and national organizations also seeking change.