Puppy mills are harming innocent animals: You can make a difference

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Most of us care about protecting animals from cruelty. We’re outraged by abuse and neglect, and we try to do right by the animals in our lives.

But all too often the cruelty takes place out of sight and out of mind—at a puppy mill.

These commercial breeding operations are notoriously inhumane, but many people who purchase a mill-bred puppy do so without even knowing it. Animals bred in mills are commonly sold at pet stores, by “puppy brokers,” in parking lots or flea markets, or in online transactions through Craigslist or misleading websites that inaccurately portray “humane” conditions. False health assurances, socialization claims, and even sham “rescue” credentials may be provided.

It’s important for animal lovers to have the facts so they can avoid inadvertently supporting the cruel puppy mill industry—and, ultimately, help end it once and for all.

What is a puppy mill?

The term generally refers to a large-scale commercial dog-breeding facility where the emphasis is on profits over the well-being of the dogs. The goal of puppy mills is to produce as many puppies as possible, as quickly as possible, without regard for their long-term physical or psychological health or that of their parents.

The dogs are generally kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions. They often lack quality food, clean water, veterinary care, and proper socialization. The mother “breeder” dogs may give birth to multiple litters per year throughout their adult lives. They, and aging father dogs, are commonly abandoned or killed when they’re no longer considered “useful” to the mill.

As a result of the breeding and care practices in puppy mills, it is common for mill-bred animals to suffer from genetic and hereditary conditions or communicable diseases that can be deadly. Additionally, many mill-bred dogs experience behavioral and psychological problems throughout their lives from a lack of early socialization and being weaned too young.


Isn’t that against the law?

The primary animal-protection law in the U.S., the Animal Welfare Act, provides certain bare-minimum protections for animals in puppy mills. Unfortunately, these standards are insufficient and rarely enforced.

For example, the Animal Welfare Act provides minimum space requirements for dogs in puppy mills—but the minimum required by law is a mere 6 inches above a dog’s head and beyond the tip of her nose. She may be forced to spend the majority of her life in that small space—often a barren wire cage

—without ever being able to run or play.


What can be done?

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and other advocates across the country are fighting to end puppy mill cruelty. We’re filing lawsuits, passing legislation, directly rescuing and caring for animal victims, and much more. And everyone who cares about animals can help!

Spread the word to friends and family about this issue, and educate them about the danger of buying animals online.

Many mills, and puppy brokers who work with them, use online platforms like Craigslist to advertise puppies. Urge Craigslist to shut down all animal sales on its platform, and if you or someone you know has been victimized through a Craigslist animal sale, share the story with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Sign the No More Puppy Mills Pledge, and share it online to raise awareness.

Learn more by listening to Neon Hum Media’s podcast Smoke Screen: Puppy Kingpin—which partially focuses on an Animal Legal Defense Fund class-action lawsuit—and dive into the listening guide for further details, documents, photos, and more.

Advocate for state and local retail pet sale bans. Laws make it illegal for pet stores to sell dogs and cats (and sometimes other animals, such as rabbits) who are sourced from large-scale commercial breeders, and encourage them to offer rescued animals for adoption in partnership with local shelters and rescue groups. Hundreds of U.S. cities and counties, as well as multiple states, have already enacted such laws. The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s free on-demand webinar can show you how to help pass a retail pet sale ban where you live!

Urge your lawmakers to support federal legislation that would improve the lives of dogs in puppy mills. Current bills being considered by Congress include: Goldie’s Act, which would improve oversight of puppy mills and enable inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to confiscate dogs who are suffering; the Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act, which would improve the licensing and renewal process for animal dealers and other animal-related businesses regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, such as zoos and circuses; and the Puppy Protection Act, which would raise standards for conditions in puppy mills by prohibiting overbreeding and requiring larger enclosures, access to the outdoors, a consistent feeding schedule, prompt treatment of illnesses and injuries, and daily socialization, among other improvements.

Your vote through CREDO Mobile is a vote in support of a world where all animals are protected from abuse. Thank you. To learn more, visit ALDF.org, sign up to stay informed, or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter/X.