Identifying A Puppy Mill

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food or water. Puppy mill puppies are sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads and at swap meets and flea markets.

In a puppy mill, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.

Because puppy mills focus on profit, dogs are often bred with little regard for genetic quality. Puppy mill puppies are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions including heart disease and blood and respiratory disorders. In addition, puppy mill puppies often arrive in pet stores and in their new homes with diseases or infirmities ranging from parasites to pneumonia. Due to the conditions they were born into and grew up in puppies will suffer from fear, anxiety and other behavioral problems.

Not all puppy mills look this blatant. In fact, you may never see where your puppy grew up at because they will have you pick up your puppy "at a place closer to your home" to keep you away from theirs.

Many times the hand off from breeder to new owner happens in a parking lot like the one above.

There is no legal definition of a “puppy mill,” so don’t be fooled by unethical breeders or pet store owners who show you “papers” or licenses to prove that their dogs are licensed or came from humane sources. The fact is, responsible breeders would never sell a puppy through a pet store because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure their puppies are going to a good home.

The only way to avoid getting a puppy from such a place is to visit the home where your puppy was born and where his/her parents are. 


  1. SAd, sad, sad Sally. Is there anyway to stop puppy mills? The photos are heartbreaking, and I feel so sorry for the puppies. Wish I could do something about it beside warn other people.

    Joe and Ronna Cardone

  2. This is so heart-breaking. About 20 years ago we actually joined a group whose mission was to help close down one such awful place. The breeder had advertised through the newspaper, just like Sally mentioned, but would never let anyone see where the babies were born. We eventually found out that the puppies were mal-nourished and scared; they were being "spanked" for pee-ing on the carpet when they were only 3 weeks old and weighed less than a pound. We ended up adopting one of the puppies who was hiding behind a sofa with fear. This little dog never got over her fear of human beings, even though we pampered her every single day and brought her back to physical health. It was a joy to help her find a degree of comfort and joy, but she was never truly emotionally balanced and would cower anytime a human approached her. It broke our hearts. Thank you, Sally, for reminding us to always be on the look-out for these unscrupulous breeders. By calling your local humane society if you ever encounter a questionable breeder, they will always follow up and never reveal their source.
    Diane & Charles

  3. I have searched high and low for a reputable, caring maltese breeder. I feel so blessed to have stumbled across Sally's website. In the last months, I can't tell you how distressed I have been about inadvertently purchasing from a puppy mill or scammers. The internet is rampant with both. These pictures are heartbreaking, it is hard to imagine that such places exist. Speaking with Sally was like a breath of fresh air. I know that I am taking home a baby that has been bred and raised with the highest possible standards.
    Thank you Sally!
    So excited to take our baby home!

  4. Seeing the photos of the puppies from puppy mills is horrifying. I will never understand the lack of values and ethics in people who could treat dogs that way. I hesitated to use a breeder but Sally's methods, care and love for her dog has convinced me that I will get a healthy, high quality and well cared for baby. Mary M Gresham, Or

  5. These photos are horrible ... breaks your heart to see this. I'm so glad to find a reputable breeder for our furbaby to start her life with you and transition to our loveable home.

  6. Very, very sad!
    Erskin And Marilyn S Tacoma Wa.

  7. These places need to be reported and shut down!!!
    Colleen T

  8. Shame on those people!