Many people don’t realize that mass breeders produce nearly all of the animals in pet stores, not just puppies. Usually, these animals are bred as livestock in deplorable conditions. They lack veterinary attention, socialization, and the puppies produced in such circumstances quite often have either chronic illnesses or die shortly after being purchased from the pet store. The more aware people are of where puppies in pet stores actually come from, the better.
This is just a rough estimation of the number of puppy mills in the US. It is hard to give an exact number because not all puppy mills and backyard breeders are registered, and their numbers are always changing. Also, the Humane Society revealed that while many do close down, many new ones open their doors.
The Humane Society releases the Horrible Hundred report every year, revealing the worst 100 pet dealers in the US. Even though 27 of them were listed in the report last year, they have appeared yet again this year. This means that even though the report provides precise details on these issues, the USDA isn’t doing enough to make them change their ways.
A lot goes on behind closed doors in puppy mills. Parent dogs die young due to exhaustion, malnutrition, and during birth, while many puppies die as soon as they are born. If they do survive birth, puppies often die during transport or once they have been bought due to underlying health problems new owners were not even aware of. Between licensed puppy mills and the puppy black market, it’s impossible to estimate the exact number of dogs that die each year.
(The Puppy Mill Project)
Puppy mills exist due to pet stores essentially “feeding” them, in turn allowing them to make one Hell of a profit. Although they do make a lot of online sales, the great majority sells primarily to pet stores. Therefore, pet stores are the ones keeping puppy mills in business, and until they stop buying from them or until they stop selling puppies altogether, slowing down puppy mills and their abusive ways will be almost nigh impossible.
As of 2016, licensed USDA puppy producing facilities produced exactly 107,558 puppies. This is in light of about 25% of dogs in animal shelters being purebred. What’s more, many of these shelters are, in fact, kill shelters. By opting to buy a new puppy from a pet store, or a puppy mill, rather than adopting the same from a shelter, people contribute to this abusive system, as well as to the overall tally of innocent animals dying in shelters.
These reports come from 13 different states where the outbreak most likely began due to contact with infected puppies in Petland stores. The investigation is still ongoing, yet it is suspected that the puppies arrived at the store already infected and that the outbreak then spread to 5 Petland employees, as well as 12 other individuals; all of which reported some kind of contact with said puppies.
Currently, about 300 cities and the same number of counties prohibit the retail sale of pets, with the entire state of Maryland passing the ban in 2018 as well. Many of these bans include not only puppies but also rabbits and kittens too. At the moment, many more cities, counties, and states have pending bills to ban retail pet sales, including the state of New York. In 2020, many more are expected to follow suit.
Of the 10,000 known puppy mills, only a small percentage is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. This means that more than 7,000 puppy mills in the US operate under the radar, have zero control, and continue to abuse animals without any repercussions. Also, this does not include the many backyard breeders that completely go unnoticed.
Animals are not the only ones in danger here. Puppy mills can be a hazard to people as well. Due to poor hygiene and the lack of vet care, puppies that arrive in pet stores can infect anyone that gets in direct contact with them. The outbreak of 2017 was linked to puppies sold in Petland stores spanning across 17 states.
Puppies that (somehow) survive the horrible conditions at these puppy mills are not out of the woods yet! They must first be transported by puppy wholesalers cross-country, and sometimes even overseas.
At the moment, there are no laws regulating just how many puppies can be transported at once or how long they can travel. Also, the driver of the vehicle doesn’t have to have any animal care experience. Usually, they travel days on end crammed together, sleeping in their own feces, and once they reach their destinations, they are so stressed out that they often arrive either seriously ill or dead.
Getting the facts straight is the first step towards understanding what exactly happens between the birth of a puppy to it coming home with their new, loving owners. Seeing how there’s a lot going on during this time period, let’s just dive straight in.
One of the saddest facts about puppy mills is that the above-mentioned number is constantly changing; the lifespan of breeding dogs is quite short, hence they are quickly replaced by new purebred dogs to continue this vicious cycle. What’s more, they usually live in cramped cages, have limited veterinary care (if any at all), and are used solely for breeding. This means they get zero to little exercise, attention, or socialization. The females are kept barely alive until they can no longer have puppies. After that, they are euthanized as there is no place for them in puppy mills.
There are 2 million puppies produced from puppy mills every year. Females are usually bred two times a year. As the mothers of these puppies are severely malnourished and exhausted, they don’t produce enough milk — hence why some puppies die within a few days of being born. The puppies aren’t properly weaned and are usually ripped from their mother too early. This results in poor socialization, depression, and even desperation for both pup and mom.
A kennel owner in New York made a homemade gas chamber where he killed five to six dogs at a time in a whelping box with piped exhaust fumes being pumped into it. The owner claimed to have killed the dogs following an inspection that required him to test and treat his dogs for Brucellosis. Unfortunately, many puppy mill operators see the animals as nothing more than products, and if they end up costing them more than they are making, they just “get rid of them.”
Even though the Humane Society had reported numerous puppy mills, Missouri continues to lead in the number of problem puppy mills with 22 making the list this year. Runners up were Iowa with 13 problem puppy mills, Pennsylvania with 12, Ohio with 8, and New York and Wisconsin with a total of 7 making the list.
A lot of people are to blame for the deaths of puppies and the abuse of dogs in puppy mills and not just the operators and the general pet stores that sell them. Puppy dealers, or dog brokers, are effectively the middleman that resell the puppies bought from puppy mills to pet stores. Pet stores benefit the most as it saves them time and provides them with a wide range of puppy suppliers, whereas puppy mill operators are happy as brokers usually buy off all the puppies they have available.
Facts on puppy mills state that a lot of people don’t even realize that they also produce animals for animal testing in labs. In fact, such facilities depend almost entirely on puppy mills for their supply of dogs (and sometimes cats) needed for testing. One small win is that the Richland Center City Council officially passed the first-ever ban on research puppy mills and cat and dog experimentation in the country. The new law bans experimental breeding and the transportation of cats and dogs outside of Richland Center for experimentation.
Puppies are priced as low as $50 (per puppy) when being sold to brokers that then transport these poor animals across the country and offer them to pet stores. Pet stores then purchase the said puppies for as little as $200 to $400 per puppy and then sell the puppies to their new owners at prices of up to $1,400.
In essence, by buying puppies from pet stores, you are not only supporting the abusive puppy mills but also the entire food chain that lives off of forced breeding, bare-minimum living conditions, and the death of numerous animals.
The majority of the funds were spent as a result of a single puppy mill that required housing for 50 rescued dogs at Everett Animal Shelter, costing the county over $41,000. Yet another case cost an additional $26,000 due to an unlicensed breeding kennel. Overall, $170 is the daily cost of sheltering these animals for the first 10 days; the costs go down to $20 per day after that.
(American Grooming Academy)
Shocking facts about puppy mills reveal that, despite the best efforts of many animal rights groups, there is still little awareness of what goes on at puppy mills. We mentioned female dogs and the abuse they endure, yet male dogs are far less valuable and easily replaceable — hence why they are treated far worse. All the while, animal shelters are overflowing and are forced to euthanize many a dog, including purebreds.
Before we continue with our last set of puppy mills statistics, we need to mention a gruesome fact. Namely, the Amish community experienced a lot of backlash from animal activists after revealing that in states with large Amish communities, many make a living off of puppy mills. This, however, is not the case with all Amish families, contrary to popular beliefs orchestrated by the media. In fact, a lot of Amish breeders take good care of their animals or earn money through other businesses besides puppy mills.
(The Puppy Mill Project)
This is the dark side of Amish communities that many people aren’t even unaware of. The majority of puppy mills are located in Shipshewana, Indiana; Holmes County, Ohio; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania — all of which are populated with large Amish communities. Puppy mills in these areas can have anywhere between 10 to 1,000 dogs, all of which will most likely spend their entire lives in cages.
It’s a well-known fact that puppy mill conditions are quite miserable, but did you know that the majority of puppy mills are located in parts of the country where Amish communities are predominant. Although we can only speculate that they do run a good 20% of puppy mills, it’s impossible to confirm this claim as the majority of these facilities are not regulated; not to mention that the USDA does not collect specific information of the individuals who run puppy mills — such as their religious beliefs.
(Michigan Puppy Mills)
The records show that these sickly puppies have made them an estimated $290,000. Furthermore, federal inspections of the puppy mill have revealed that this particular farmer has had numerous violations since he started this abusive business in 1992, yet has not been closed down. Some of the violations the puppy mill has been cited for include inadequate sanitation, improper watering and feeding of the animals, overcrowded cages, and lack of pest control.
In a book called “Nature and the Environment in Amish Life” by David L. McConnell, there is a full chapter called “Tinkering with Creation” that gives alternative business ideas involving animals for Amish families. Aside from running puppy mills, it is also suggested that many Amish breed exotic animals and birds (even zebras), whitetail deer, and horses. This leads us to wonder what the general conditions are on these breeding farms knowing the conditions of their puppy mills and the lack of regulation.
(Bailing Out Benji)
Researchers dug deep, far, and wide to show the number of USDA licensed puppy mills in states with high Amish populations, and how many are run by Amish families. The numbers are staggering. Of Indiana’s puppy mills, 97% are Amish run. In Pennsylvania, 63% of all puppy mills are run by Amish. In contrast, other states with high Amish population such as Iowa reveal that Amish families run only 22% of puppy mills. So to clear up, not every Amish is involved in this, but there are states where they are the majority.
If they survive the first couple of days after being born to a malnourished dog that usually has a hard time feeding them, they continue their short life in the puppy mill in deplorable conditions. Once weaned before it is naturally safe to do so, they may travel for days crammed together in trucks either to auctions or directly to pet stores. If they do survive this far, they are purchased for a higher price by everyone down the chain, only to potentially die or fall ill due to a plethora of health conditions puppies from puppy mills often suffer from.
Whether directly or indirectly, operators of puppy mills kill thousands of dogs every year. Puppies usually die shortly after being born. Female dogs are allowed to live as long as they keep bringing new puppies into the world. If they stop reproducing, they are either killed or sold off in auctions with price tags as low as $1 each. However, the vast majority of these animals die due to malnourishment, lack of vet care, disease, or go on to suffer the long-lasting effects of the way they came into this world.
If you’ve been paying attention thus far, it is pretty self-explanatory. Not only are they poorly regulated but the dogs are also treated as livestock and are often killed when they no longer serve a purpose. Not to mention that animal shelters are overflowing, thousands of animals are euthanized each year due to a lack of space and financing; many of them are purebreds. With so many animals already looking for a place to call home, there shouldn’t even be a need for massive puppy mills.
The answer is quite straightforward and simple. Although you can become active and join various organizations that push for more regulation and more severe punishment for breeders that abuse animals, you can simply opt to adopt rather than buy your next puppy. The more people become aware of what goes on behind closed doors at puppy mills, the fewer the pet stores that require their services.
It is unfortunate that so many people are drawn into this vicious cycle of massive pet breeding and abuse. The above-mentioned puppy mill statistics should be more than enough to encourage you to take action and make the right decision; in other words, considering adoption the next time you need a new furry friend.
There are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the US.
Almost all puppies sold in stores come from puppy mills.
Over a million puppies were produced yearly by licensed facilities in the US.
30 people were infected with Campylobacter jejuni; the disease was contracted by puppies in a pet store.
California was the very first state to ban retail pet sales, puppy mill statistics from 2017 reveal.
There are about 167,388 breeding dogs in facilities licensed by the USDA.
Each female dog gives birth to 9.4 puppies on average every year.
Missouri has the most (so-called) problem puppy mills for 7 years straight.
Dog brokers pay anywhere between $50 and $150 per puppy from puppy mills.
A staggering 2.4 million puppies produced by licensed and unlicensed puppy mills are sold each year.