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Who can resist a little furry face? Walking past pet stores with puppies in the window, it is nearly impossible to resist the tiny noses and wagging tails. While all animals deserve to be loved and cherished, there is a cruel trade afoot that is often responsible for putting that little doggy in the window. What I am referring to, of course, is the puppy mill trade happening right here in the U.S.

Approximately 500,000 puppies are bred per year in puppy mills, according to Last Chance For Animals. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 2 – 4 million of these puppies are sold every year. To keep breeders from breeding more companion animals than is necessary, consider adopting one instead of buying.

Breeders can charge high prices for pure bred pups, and make enormous profits by keeping their dogs in deplorable conditions, usually in direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Unfortunately, many states have slack standards that cannot properly monitor large scale breeding facilities, making for the influx of horror stories we see coming from puppy mills.

It’s not all bad news in the world of puppy mills, however. Thanks to the demands of animal rights activists and organizations, many states are tightening up their laws to help protect these little pups.

What is the status of puppy mill legislation in the U.S.? Check it out below:

1. Bans on the Sale of Puppy Mill Animals in Pet Stores

Major cities like Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, and Los Angeles join 50 other American jurisdictions, such as Suffolk County in Boston and Cook County in Illinois, that have banned the sale of commercially-bred animals like cats, rabbits, and dogs in pet stores to fight against puppy mills says the Huffington Post.

2. Increased Regulations and Standards

  • Texas passes bill establishing minimum standards for the treatment and care of dogs and cats by breeders in large-scale puppy mills. According to DFW Animal Rescue, the Federal Court refused to oppose the law after breeders submitted a motion to oppose the ban.
  • New York passes bill enabling local municipalities to enact and enforce their own laws governing puppy mills.
  • Ohio passes bill requiring breeders who sell at least 9 litters in a year to register with the state and get kennel safety and health inspections every year.

3. More Bills in Process!

Tucson and Pompano Beach in Florida are considering passing puppy mill bills while Gov. Pat McCrory said he would like to re-introduce the puppy mill legislation in North Carolina, according to the ASPCA.

Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan is also supporting several bills that would regulate puppy mills, require breeder registration, establish an animal abuse registry, and protect consumers.

Of Course, There are Alternatives!

Anti-puppy mill legislation is on the rise, but you don’t have to wait for these bills to pass to do something about puppy mills. Check out this article on five ways that you can help put an end to puppy mills.

You can also help out dogs that have either been victims of puppy mill abuse, or other abuse. Check out some awesome organizations, such as special needs animal shelters, lab animal rescues, or sanctuaries to volunteer with or look to them to adopt your new best friend!

Image source: Ann/Wikimedia Commons

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7 comments on “Major Puppy Mill Victories in the U.S.”

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4 Years Ago

Please make sure to scroll down and read my response to the comment about 10 Things You Didn\'t Know About Puppy Mills. It should be titled \'10 things this person read off the internet from anti-animal groups\'. People like me who want to see regulations required for commercial breeders is to prevent the rampant cruelty and inhumane conditions we see firsthand - not on a website, not in a video - with our own (burning from urine stench) eyes when we have to go in and save these poor animals from their life of confinement.

4 Years Ago

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppy Mills

1) BREEDERS are NOT responsible for the presence of dogs in shelters. "Producing" dogs due to failure to be a responsible owner and "breeding" dogs are not the same. We have a problem with a lack of responsible ownership, poor shelter management and poor pet distribution. Education is the key to improvement in this area.
2) It has been PROVEN there is NO PET OVERPOPULATION. Since 2005 the birthrate for puppies has not been meeting the demand. Many rare breeds are declining to the point of extinction due to anti-breeder laws. According to the USDA more than 300,000 dogs were imported in 2013 from foreign countries by SHELTERS. If the current rate of laws and decline continue within 20 years your only source for a puppy may be a shelter “mutt” from Mexico, China or Puerto Rico with possible behavioral issues and NO health testing. www.shelterproject.naiaonline.org
3) In our modern day of instant access to information it is almost impossible for anyone to raise dogs without being under scrutiny. Those horrendous photos you see in commercials for the “Humane Society” are mostly outdated or a 1 in one million exception to the care given animals by breeders everywhere. The photos are intended to shock and horrify you into giving money. Any photo can be photo shopped into looking really bad. Be skeptical. If you didn’t see it with your own eyes take it with a grain of salt.
4) There is no such thing as a "puppy mill". "Puppy mill" is not a legally defined term, it is slang invented by the “animal rights” extremists to denigrate any and all breeders -- small or large, standard or substandard. It\'s the "N-word" of breeders. The phrase “puppy mill” has been promoted in the media by the animal “rights” movement, people who want to end all animal ownership. It is applied indiscriminately by these fanatics to anyone who breeds dogs.
5) There are three main types of breeders: Commercial, Pet and Hobby/show breeders. Every one of these can be a large-scale breeder, every one of these could be a substandard breeder. Commercial kennels are subject to state and/or federal oversight. Substandard care can be found with all types of breeders. It is about the standard of care, NOT the numbers. Most commercial breeders have state of the art kennels that meet USDA standards and the standards of their state laws. They are inspected at least yearly and must meet or exceed stringent standards far higher than those expected of the average hobby breeder.
6) “Sick” puppies do not sell. It is counterproductive for any industry to produce a defective product and expect to stay in business. Any dog can have health issues. It’s about Mother Nature NOT lack of care or numbers.
7) Passing laws intended to outlaw “puppy mills” will not solve any problem. Most substandard breeders are already in violation of existing laws and don’t care. New, stricter laws will only affect those who are already working to follow the laws. The only way to have any effect is to provide the funds and manpower to enforce the laws that are already on the books.
8) All the hobby breeders in this country cannot produce enough puppies to meet the demands of the American market. Recent changes in laws are NOT stopping substandard kennels from continuing. It is closing down reputable breeders who work very hard to produce healthy purebred puppies by making it more difficult and expensive for them to continue in their HOBBY.
9) A shelter dog is NOT for every family. Shelter dogs come with baggage that can require an EXPERIENCED owner. Shelter dogs have NO health testing and frequently have behavioral issues that take years of training to overcome. Obtaining a dog should be a time for rational decision making--not an excuse for moral preening. If \'adopting\' a shelter dog makes you feel \'better about yourself\', you don\'t need a dog. You need a therapist.
10) You are more likely to purchase a dog with health or behavioral issues from a shelter than a pet store.

For more information:

10 Jun 2014

Elizabeth I highly suggest that you get your info firsthand instead of relying on anti-animal groups like HumaneWatch and the others you list. I think you would learn a lot if you volunteered to assist with a puppy mill bust. We have had more than 16 in NC in the last few years and I volunteered for many of them. I can tell you firsthand that the pictures you see are not old or one in a million. Did you see the video of the tiny Chi named Billy that HSUS put out last year? Not only was I there when Adam pried his cage open to free him from his puppy mill life of hell, but I almost adopted him. Instead Adam, the very dedicated HSUS employee that freed him took him in and cared for him until he lost his battle from years of neglect in the puppy mill.

You mention there is not an overpopulation problem when millions are killed each year in our shelters. Until we are no longer killing healthy animals there is a problem. If you all don\'t want to call that overpopulation would the word surplus work for you?? It is the same thing. Seriously it is like saying that we don\'t have a problem with unwanted children in orphanages bc, by golly, so many people want to adopt babies.

You also mention that there is no such thing as a puppy mill. When a business reproduces something over and over, whether it is grain or puppies, it can be referred to as a mill. To say they do not exist is ludicrous. Not only do we have puppy mills, but we have bird and cat mills as well. Then you on to say that all commercial breeders are regulated by the USDA. That is absolutely, 100% not true. If, and only if, the breeder sells to a pet store are they regulated and inspected by the ag dept. Some states regulate breeders, but in NC puppy mills that sell to the public (and are therefore not inspected by the ag dept or anyone else) cannot be charged until they are breaking our cruelty laws. We want simple regulations so the animals that are bred over and over for profit are not living in conditions that become a cruelty case. We are not trying to shut them down, we are asking for inspections and regulations to oversee that the animals are cared for as they should be. Commercial breeders are one of the only businesses not regulated and subject to min standards. I would bet my last dollar that most of the ones that sell puppies online do not even pay close to the taxes they should compared to other regulated businesses!

Your last comment is partly correct - shelter dogs are not for everyone, but neither are purebred dogs. And the testing you claim that all breeders do? Yes, ethical breeders do put money into their breeding stock and their puppies, but many, many puppy mills put their money into their own pockets. I do Pomeranian rescue and have had multipLe breeders from mills and they are ALL plagued with issues ranging from luxating patellas to rotting mouths to heart disease. It is not a rarity, but more like a given and these are dogs that were producing puppies for the public over and over. You are also correct when you say obtaining a dog should be a rational decision, but I would say that many more people impulse buy a purebred dog in a pet store than those that go to a shelter or through a rescue to adopt a dog in need. And lastly, adopting an animal and saving its life is VERY rewarding and should make anyone feel good about themselves - you should try it some time!

Gloria Kelley
4 Years Ago

What do you do when you go into a shelter and they do not have the breed dog you want,I waited years to have the dog of my chose,and I have yet to find mine in a shelter.And a bought one from a backyard breeder but it has skin allergies so I got some disapointment one way or another.

10 Jun 2014

I have to agree. I tried finding a puppy in shelters and most were too far away and wouldn\'t deal with me because I didn\'t live close enough. I did want a specific breed but have struggled to find someone that would talk to me because I don\'t live within driving distance. It was frustrating. I finally went with a reputable breeder and am thrilled with my dog. However, I would have loved to save a dog, but couldn\'t get anyone to help me out.

4 Years Ago

Hi Visala,
Regarding your second paragraph - Is it 200,000 to 400,000 puppies sold every year? (Instead of 2-4 million?) Thanks in advance for clarification.

10 Jun 2014

All puppy mills should be abolished. There are way too many dogs (and cats) in shelters that are being killed every day! Instead of buying that cute puppy in the window, please go down to your local shelter and adopt a shelter dog (or cat). They will be thankful that you did (and yes, rescue animals do show their thanks!)

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