Animal Cruelty

The Problem with Puppy Mills

6 Comments 17 May 2010

The Problem with Puppy Mills

A couple weeks ago, 225 dogs were rescued from a breeding operation called Poodle Palace in Sparta, Tennessee. The dogs were mostly toy poodles and other “designer” dogs. According to reports, when authorities arrived on the scene, the stench from the facility was so bad that officers were unable to enter the 1,200 square foot home. The conditions were abysmal. The dogs were overcrowded, ill, malnourished, matted, and covered in feces and urine. Ultimately, the dogs were rescued by the Humane Society’s Puppy Mill Task Force and were distributed to rescues in Nashville, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Chicago.

The Big Picture
According to the Humane Society, they’ve rescued more dogs in Tennessee than any other state; however, the reality is that puppy mills are a national problem. Despite the estimated 11,000 animals euthanized in American shelters every day, the number of puppy mill dogs has not declined. Why?

Think back to high school economics. Remember the supply and demand curve? The simple concept is that, as long as there’s a demand for a product, the supply will be created to meet that demand. So as long as there’s a demand for designer dogs, these puppy mills will continue to churn out puppies.


Some Facts about Puppy Mills
While the federal Animal Welfare Act should regulate puppy mills, the law is rarely enforced. The majority of U.S. puppy mills are found in seven states: Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. In Missouri alone, the puppy mill industry is valued at roughly $40 million. Nationwide, approximately 500,000 puppy mill dogs are sold in 3,500 pet stores annually. Puppy mills are big business.

How Can You Help?

  • Eliminate the demand for puppy mill dogs by adopting your next pet from a shelter or rescue.
  • Spay or neuter your pet to prevent accidental litters.
  • Consider signing a pledge like the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Pledge.
  • Write letters to your local and state representatives encouraging them to enact or enforce humane legislation.
  • Does your town have pet shops that sell puppies? Stage protests and encourage friends and family to adopt from your local shelter.

What do you think? Any other ideas or suggestions on how to combat puppy mills?


- who has written 7 posts on Castor & Pollux Pet Works Blog.

Maggie Marton is a freelance writer based in Bloomington, IN. She adores writing about animal-related topics, especially welfare and advocacy issues and volunteers for animal welfare groups.

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Your Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Kelly McClaskey says:

    While I do think puppy mills are awful, I am not liking having to get my next dog from a shelter. I want another purebred Jack Russel, and you don’t have that option at shelters. So how can one get a breed of their choice, if they should only get a animal from a shelter or rescue?

  2. Kate says:

    Hi Kelly. Thanks for your comment! It’s true that shelters aren’t the only option. If you’d like another purebred there are certainly plenty of reputable breeders out there and with proper research you can find a great, healthy dog that doesn’t come from a puppy mill. Also, many breeds have their own rescue organizations so people looking for a specific breed can actually get them from a foster or second chance program.

  3. Kelly,

    Many rescues get purebred dogs. In fact we currently have 2 Jack Russells. Jacks often end up in rescue or a shelter because of their high energy and desire to active, which if not channeled can result in bad behavior. That is why they are so highly desired as agility dogs. People don’t always read up on the breed but rather purchase a puppy because of their cuteness. Some breeds gain popularity after having been starred in a movie or being the family dog on the TV show like Frasier. With the ecomony,some families are having a tough time with housing and can’t afford the pet deposits so don’t have any options other than giving up the pets. Oregon Dog Rescue is an all breed rescue but there are also breed specific rescues and there are plenty of Jack Russells waiting in rescue for a furever home. Just go on, enter Jack Russell and your zip code to find a shelter and Jack Russell in your town. Good luck on your search.

  4. tireslinger says:

    I without a doubt, agree with earlier posts, Kelly. If you are breed specific in your heart, you have options. It make take some search work, and patience, but another Jack Russell, is somewhere out there, waiting until you find them…good luck1

  5. Tupelo says:

    If you want a pet, it doesn’t make sense to just want a certain breed. If you’re showing the dog or something, ok. But you want a pet, right? Pets become a big part of your life and you grow attached to them. Not quite like children, but sort of. When you have a child, do you need to design it to love it?

  6. Kappy Hodges says:

    I just helped a friend hunt for her first dog. The family decided on a Labradoodle because of the no shedding and the larger size. Could NOT find a rescue for them in the northwest, and every supposed “breeder” of this mixed-breed-hoping-to-become-a-recognized breed was of the puppy mill variety. Breeders had multiple breeding females and even multiple breeds – PLUS, they wanted thousands of dollars for these dogs. My friend would have taken an adult but there were none to be found. No breeder she spoke with had a provision to take their pup/dog back if things didn’t work out, so none of them had any older puppies or young adults either. No labradoodles on Craig’s List in the Seattle area or in the newspaper.

    Eventually she thought she had found a small somewhat responsible breeder, but arrived there to find a home smelling so strongly of ammonia her eyes watered. There were two new litters of pups (15 and 10 in each) and 3 or 4 older pups left from 2 earlier litters. Supposedly only 3 females were kept for breeding, but that is at least 4 to have created these pups so close together. You know how it went – she HAD to rescue one of the older puppies. Just couldn’t leave her there… so she paid her hundreds (at least not thousands) and took the little girl home. She was pretty healthy, but did have Giardia and smelled like pee.

    It makes a dog person despair. How do we get these people to take care of these dogs? They claim that they love them and say, “Why else would they go into this business…” yet look at the conditions!

    Makes me crazy.

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