30 Disturbing Puppy Mills Statistics: A Horrifically Unethical Industry

Dog Data By Megan Marrs 29 min read July 14, 2023

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We all know puppy mills are bad.

But, what exactly is a puppy mill?

Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities in which dogs are bred for profit with little regard for their welfare. They are typically overcrowded and unsanitary spaces where dogs are kept in small wire cages and receive little to no socialization, exercise, protection from the elements, veterinary care, or reliable access to food and water.

The reasons for the existence of puppy mills are simple – money. They are a way for breeders to make a quick profit without any regard for the health or well-being of the dogs. 

Believe it or not, puppy mills are not illegal. Some are USDA-licensed, while still maintaining deplorable conditions due to lack of oversight and proper regulation.

In this article, we will explore some of the most impactful and important statistics surrounding puppy mill industry.

Our goal is to shed light on the extent of the problem and to raise awareness about the need for stronger regulation and enforcement to protect these vulnerable animals.

Most Shocking Quick Stats About the Puppy Mill Industry

  1. There are over 10,000 puppy mills in the United States.
  2. Around 500,000 dogs are kept in puppy mills for breeding purposes.
  3. 2.6 million puppies sold annually from US puppy mills.
  4. 9 out of 10 pet store puppies are from puppy mills
  5. The vast majority of puppy mill deaths remain unreported, but it’s estimated that up to 2 million dogs die in puppy mills each year.
  6. Puppies from puppy mills are significantly more likely to suffer from behavioral and medical issues.

General Puppy Mill Statistics

1. There are over 10,000 puppy mills in the United Stats alone.

It is difficult to determine an exact number of puppy mills in the United States as most operate without proper licensing or regulation.

However, estimates from The Humane Society suggest that there are over 10,000 puppy mills in the United States. In order to protect pets, we need ongoing efforts to regulate and shut down puppy mills, as well as promote adoption and responsible breeding practices.

Puppy mills are a significant problem in the US, contributing to the overpopulation of dogs, as well as breeding dogs with considerable health and behavioral issues.

Source: The Human Society of the United States

2. 1.3 million puppies are produced each year through licensed US facilities.

Each year, licensed facilities in the United States produce about 1,307,407 puppies according to The Human Society of the United States.

These facilities are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and must meet certain standards to maintain their licenses. 

While some licensed breeders may operate ethically and provide adequate care for their animals, many puppy mills, or large-scale breeding operations, are also licensed by the USDA.

Many dog advocates feel that the current licensing does not adequately filter for puppy mills or have the dogs’ best interest at the forefront when choosing licensing criteria.

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

3. 2.6 million puppies are sold annually from US puppy mills.

While USDA licensed breeders produce over a million puppies each year, the actual number of puppy mill puppies sold in the United States is estimated to be around 2.6 million, including both licensed and non-licensed breeders.

It’s important to note that the actual number of puppies sold from puppy mills may be higher, as not all breeders require a USDA license. 

Purchasing a puppy from a puppy mill perpetuates the cruel cycle of commercial breeding. Supporting these facilities only encourages them to continue operating and exploiting animals. 

Instead, it is recommended to adopt a pet from a local animal shelter, rescue group where you can find loving and healthy pets who are in need of a forever home. An alternative is using an trusted, reliable, and ethical breeder (use our good breeder criteria to identify ethical breeders).

Source: The Humane Society

4. 500,000 dogs are held captive in puppy mills purely for breeding

It’s estimated that over 500,000 dogs are held captive solely for the purpose of for-profit breeding.

Many of these dogs are bred repeatedly, often with little time to recover between litters. This can result in a range of health and behavioral problems, including genetic disorders, infections, and even aggression. 

Female dogs in particular are often subjected to inhumane breeding practices, such as overbreeding, inbreeding, and breeding at a young age, which can take a significant toll on their physical and mental health.

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

5. Most puppy mill deaths remain unreported.

The reality of puppy mills is that deaths are not reported, making it difficult to obtain accurate death statistics.

However, it is estimated that approximately 2 million dogs die in puppy mills each year, excluding the breeding animals. 

The breeding animals themselves are very often killed once they are no longer able to produce.

The conditions in puppy mills are deplorable, inhumane, and lack veterinary care or human interaction, making it even more difficult for animals to survive. Sadly, many of these animals will never see a loving home and will instead suffer and die in these cruel operations.

6. 9 out of 10 puppies sold at pet stores are from puppy mills.

It’s estimated that roughly 90% of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. 

Responsible, ethical breeders do not sell their puppies to pet stores, requiring meeting potential families in person, and national breed clubs’ codes of ethics discourage their members from doing so.

While many pet stores sell puppies from puppy mills, some have taken a pledge not to sell puppies, instead only promoting puppies up for adoption from local shelters.

Source: Paws.org

7. The Humane Society has rescued over 11,000 dogs from more than 50 different puppy mills since 2006.

These dogs are now in loving homes.

The Humane Society of America has also been involved in numerous other efforts to put a stop to puppy mills, including the Stop Puppy Mills campaign, which works to stop the sale of puppy mill puppies and improve standards of care for dogs in commercial breeding operations by advocating through both national and local policy efforts and educating consumers.

They’ve also supported bills like the Puppy Protection Act, which, if passed, would overhaul the conditions for dogs at federally-licensed USDA facilities. They’ve also pushed heavily for nationwide regulatory reform and stronger enforcement of the AWS.

8. 36% of dog owners use the internet to find their pet.

Buying a pet online, especially a puppy, can indeed be a risky endeavor, mainly due to the prevalence of puppy mills and deceptive sales practices

Online breeders can easily misrepresent the conditions in which the animals are raised. Images and descriptions can be manipulated to present a false image of healthy, happy animals raised in clean, caring environments, while the reality can be quite different, as many online pet sellers are actually puppy mills,

Source: Spots.com

9. It’s estimated that only 1 in 10 dogs will find a home.

There is a serious issue regarding the overpopulation of pets in the United States. Shelters are brimming with unwanted animals, and with little space to house them.

Puppy mills and backyard breeders are at the heart of the issue, unethically breeding sick animals with poor genetics and behavior issues which inevitably end up in shelters.

When a puppy mill is shut down, the dogs that were kept are often rescued and sent to animal shelters. Unfortunately, due to the large number of dogs that are removed from puppy mills at once, shelters can become overcrowded, making it difficult for them to find homes for all the rescued animals. 

As a result, many of these dogs end up being euthanized.

We already mentioned in our dog theft statistics, that approximately 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized by shelters in the United States every year. Sadly, some of the dogs that were rescued from puppy mills end up contributing to this statistic. 

It’s important to support animal rescue organizations and advocate for responsible breeding practices to help reduce the number of animals that end up in shelters and are ultimately euthanized.

Puppy Mills and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the primary federal law that regulates breeders and sets standards for the care of animals bred for commercial resale.

While enforced by the USDA, the AWA has limitations in its coverage and does not address all aspects of animal welfare. Many puppy mills are able to find loop holes that allow them to operate legally, and even repeat offenders of the AWA are often able to renew their licenses.

10. Puppy mills are not illegal in the US.

While there are regulations under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to maintain certain levels of humane care and treatment for animals, there is rarely any kind of enforcement.

Even breeders with several warnings on their record often go on to continue to breed animals in unethical, dangerous conditions.

11. There are two types of licenses for breeders in the US as they pertain to puppy mills, and both are ripe for abuse.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), provides licenses and regulations for animal breeding practices. The goal is to ensure the humane treatment and care of animals that are sold as pets, used in biomedical research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issues two types of licenses – Class A and Class B – under the AWA.

  1. Class A License: This license is for breeders who sell animals that are bred and raised on their own premises. These could be breeders of various animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and certain exotic animals. Class A licensees are required to maintain specific standards of care and treatment for their animals, which include housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care, and protection from extreme weather and temperatures. Class A licensees must keep detailed records of the origin and disposition of each animal.
  2. Class B License: This license is for brokers who buy and resell animals. They may buy animals from random sources such as auctions, individuals, or small breeders and then resell them to other businesses or individuals. This can also include animals that are bred and raised on their own premises, but the primary source of animals for Class B licensees is usually not their own breeding program. Class B licensees must also maintain the same standards of care as Class A licensees and keep records of whom they obtain animals from and whom they sell them to.

Now, when it comes to the puppy mill industry, both Class A and Class B licenses can be involved, but they play different roles.

A puppy mill, in its broadest definition, is a high-volume, substandard dog-breeding operation which sells purebred or mixed-breed dogs. Conditions at many of these facilities are typically poor; dogs may be kept in small, overcrowded cages, with inadequate veterinary care, food, water, or socialization.

Class A licensed breeders might operate puppy mills if they choose to prioritize profit over the welfare of the dogs. The large-scale breeders might keep hundreds of breeding dogs, producing puppies for sale over the internet, to pet stores, or directly to consumers. It is impossible to provide adequate care and humane treatment for such a large number of animals.

These puppies are usually sold wholesale to Class B brokers or directly to pet stores.

While not all Class A or Class B licensees are connected to the puppy mill industry, the system is ripe for misuse, especially because inspection and enforcement of the AWA is sporadic and underfunded.

12. Only 65-77% of licensed breeding facilities are inspected by the USDA

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continues to issue commercial breeding licenses, even while they are unable to keep up with inspections.

In 2021, less than 65% of licensed and registered USDA facilities were inspected, and in 2022 77% were inspected. Through the USDA’s inaction, hundreds of thousands of animals are at risk for abuse and neglect each year.

Source: ASPCA.org

13. There were over 800 animal welfare violations by licensed dog dealers in 2022.

According to APSCA in the 2022 fiscal year, the USDA documented over 3,000 violations across more than 13,000 licensed and regulated facilities — however, the agency filed only five formal complaints and reached just 17 settlements throughout the year.

In 2022, there were over 800 documented violations of the Animal Welfare Act specifically for licensed dog dealers.

Despite this alarming figure, no animals were confiscated from these dealers, no licenses were suspended, no fines collected or penalties issued, and no complaints were filed to revoke any dealer’s license.

These “warning letters” are completely toothless — they’re considered as regulatory communication rather than true enforcement measures, and these warnings issues have no impact whatsoever on the licensee’s record or ability to operate.

14. Dogs have been found dead at puppy mills, while still facing no repercussions.

The lack of enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act is startling. In 2022 alone, there have been extensively documented cases of neglect that resulted in no rescue or enforcement.

At once inspection of a licensed Oklahoma facility (Chris McGill, Certificate Number 73-A-1257) in May 2022, USDA inspectors documented a litter of nursing puppies, two of whom where deceased and decaying, with the other puppies in perilous condition.

Conditions were extremely poor, with feces and cockroaches infested in the animals’ food. Despite this documentation (and a history of past violations), no action was taken by the USDA to shut this facility down.

Source: ASPCA.org

15. The Animal Welfare Act only applies to commercial facilities — breeders that sell directly to the public have zero oversight.

While the AWA theoretically can be enacted against commercial breeding facilities that sell animals to brokers, breeders that sell their pets directly to the public have no oversight whatsoever, and are not bound to any of the human treatment requirements in the AWA.

16. Nearly half of puppy dealers in the Humane Society’s “Horrible Hundred” report are repeat offenders.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)’s 10th annual report titled “The Horrible Hundred 2022,” provides an overview of problem puppy mills and puppy sellers across the United States, detailing the worst of the worst when it comes to animal breeders in the US. 

Over the course of these ten years, the HSUS reports have covered the operations of more than 650 breeders and dealers in 33 different states.

Shockingly, the report reveals that 44% of the dealers included in this year’s report have appeared in two or more of the prior reports, indicating a concerning pattern of repeat offenses resulting in no license removal or punishment. 

Furthermore, 8% of the dealers have been featured in the report five or more times, suggesting persistent and egregious violations of animal care standards.

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

17. Welfare regulations only require 6 inches of space for dogs in breeding facilities.

Puppy mills may contain between 50 to over 1,000 dogs, and dogs live in wire cages stacked on top of each other.

Current welfare regulations only require a minimum cage space of just 6 inches of space above and around the animal. This results in puppy mills housing anywhere from 50 to over 1,000 dogs in wire cages, stacked on top of one another.

On top of this, puppies and breeding dogs in mills are given little water and food and no veterinary care. This is no way to treat man’s best friend!

Regional and State Puppy Mill Statistics

18. Missouri has the largest number of licensed pet breeders, with over 900 in total.

Missouri has gained notoriety as the primary hub state for puppy mills in the United States.

In 2021, Missouri had a total of 831 Class A licensed breeders and 92 Class B licensed breeders. These classifications provide insights into the types of operations and activities conducted by these breeders.

Class A licensed breeders primarily focus on breeding companion animals, especially dogs, for the pet trade. They operate on a larger scale, maintaining specialized breeding facilities and producing puppies for sale to individuals, families, and pet stores.

In contrast, Class B licensed breeders are brokers and dealers who act as intermediaries. They acquire animals, including dogs, from various breeders and then resell them to other parties. Class B breeders do not directly engage in breeding but play a crucial role in facilitating the distribution and sale of animals bred by others.

image 4

While the issue of puppy mills has expanded geographically over time, the highest concentration remains in the Midwest region. But, other areas such as Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, also witness significant numbers of puppy mills. 

19. Puppy breeding is common among the amish.

Notably, commercial dog breeding is particularly prevalent among Amish and Mennonite farmers.

Amish dog breeders can be found across the country, with notable pockets in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and various parts of Wisconsin. 

In Ohio, 134 of the state’s total 268 breeding facilities are in Holmes County (an area of Ohio known for having a high Amish population).

In 2017, the Pennsylvania Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescued 27 dogs from an illegal puppy mill in Lancaster County, with several animals in need of immediate veterinary care due to the severity of their condition.

Source: Snopes.com

20. 16 states neglect to regulate breeding facilities.

Several states in the United States lack specific laws to address the issue of puppy mills, as highlighted by the Humane Society of the United States. For instance, Kentucky is identified in the ASPCA’s chart as a state without state-specific puppy mill laws. 

21. California and Maryland were some of the first states to ban retail pet sales.

States such as New York, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, and Washington have taken steps to ban the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores.

These regulations typically prevent pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and other animals sourced from commercial breeders. Instead, stores are encouraged to offer animals available for adoption from rescues and shelters. 

California led the way in 2017 by becoming the first state to prohibit pet stores from selling commercially-bred animals, and Maryland followed suit with a similar law in 2018.

Additionally, numerous cities and counties, including Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia, have implemented their own retail pet sale bans. Today, nearly 300 cities and counties have passed regional bans on retail pet sales.

These measures aim to curb the market for pets bred in inhumane conditions and promote the adoption of animals from reputable sources.

Source: ASPCA.org

22. Missouri has had the highest number of dog dealers in the Humane Society’s “Horrible Hundred” Report for 10 years in a row.

Missouri continues to have the largest number of puppy mills in the “Horrible Hundred” report (26), followed by Iowa (17), New York (12) and Kansas (7) and Wisconsin (7) for 2022.

However, it should be noted that states with few or no dealers in this report are not necessarily doing better work at preventing puppy mills.

For example, while Ohio and Oklahoma are known to have large numbers of puppy mills, both states did not respond to the HSUS’s (Humane Society of the United States) document requests in a timely fashion, resulting in limited information.

HSUS researchers are also unable to get local inspection records from states that do not have kennel inspection laws (such as Arkansas, Florida and many others) or states that rarely, if ever, enforce their commercial breeder inspection laws.

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

The Health & Behavior Issues of Puppy Mill Puppies

23. Dogs Suffer from Compulsive Behaviors in Puppy Mills

Studies have shown that dogs from puppy mills often display behavioral and psychological abnormalities.

Puppy mill dogs were found to have significantly elevated levels of fears and phobias, house-soiling, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivity to being touched (as they are rarely handled at all prior to purchase). 

The most consistent finding among studies is an increase in aggression, which is most commonly directed toward the dog’s owners and family members but also to strangers. This is largely due to neglect and lack of interaction with humans during early puppyhood.

The chances of a dog developing serious behavior problems are much higher for dogs purchased as puppies from pet stores, as compared to dogs obtained from non-commercial breeders.

image 2
Source: McMillan et al., 2011

A notable discrepancy of over 30% was observed in various factors between former puppy mill breeding dogs and pet dogs, as reported by Vetfolio. Among these factors, certain behavioral descriptions appeared to be linked to altered cognitive function.

Notably, one specific question addressing the behavior of staring intently at nothing visible showed a marked increase of 53.2% compared to the control group.

Source: ScienceDirect | Franklin D. McMillan, Deborah L. Duffy, James A. Serpell, Mental health of dogs formerly used as ‘breeding stock’ in commercial breeding establishments

24. Puppy mill dogs are over 40% more likely to develop health issues.

Puppy mill puppies face an increased risk of developing various health problems compared to dogs in the general population. Veterinarians.org reports that mill puppies are 41.6% more prone to health issues. 

These problems are attributed to factors such as poor breeding practices, malnutrition, lack of socialization, and inadequate care.

Breeding dogs endure their entire reproductive lives in cages with minimal veterinary care, often in overcrowded and unhygienic environments. This environment contributes to painful conditions and shorter lifespans. 

Congenital and hereditary conditions, including epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, musculoskeletal disorders, hormonal disorders, eye problems, respiratory disorders, and skin conditions, are prevalent among puppy mill dogs. 

Furthermore, mill puppies are more likely to carry diseases and infirmities like Giardia, Parvovirus, Distemper, respiratory infections, mange, fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, heartworm, and chronic diarrhea when they are sold to pet stores or new homes. 

It’s important to realize what you’re getting into when you choose to adopt a puppy mill rescue dog, even from a rescue or animal shelter organization.

Source: Veterinarians.org

25. Puppy mill puppies are so often ill that 22 states have “puppy lemon laws”.

The lemon laws provide provide protection for those who have purchased puppies that soon after become severely ill or die.

Under most of these laws, the owner will be offered a refund, another puppy, or reimbursement of vet bills up to the purchase price of the animal. Many owners find it challenging to give the puppy back, and instead focus on saving the animal, as owners often fear the puppy will be destroyed if returned to the breeder.

This ultimately results in agonizing heartbreak, even with the puppy lemon law in place.

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

26. There have been serious infectious disease outbreaks linked to puppy mill puppies.

Between January 9, 2019, and March 1, 2021, a total of 56 cases of Campylobacter infections were reported across 17 states, all linked to an outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni. While 9 individuals required hospitalization, fortunately, no deaths were reported. 

Investigations based on both epidemiologic and laboratory evidence pointed towards contact with puppies, particularly those found in pet stores, as the primary source of the outbreak.

Of the 41 affected individuals, a significant majority of 38 reported having been in contact with a puppy prior to falling ill. 

Among these 38, 55% specifically recalled contact with a puppy obtained from a pet store and of those, 62% had connections to Petland, a well-known national pet store chain. Alarmingly, 5 of the 13 individuals with Petland connections were employees of the chain. 

Campylobacter jejuni is a common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis and can result in symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and nausea. This outbreak serves as a stark reminder of the potential health risks associated with puppy mills and the inadequate conditions that these dogs are often subjected to. 

Source: CDC.gov

image 3
Source: CDC.gov

The Profit and Costs of Puppy Mill Puppies

27. Puppy brokers buy puppies from mills and re-sell them to pet stores for 3-4x profit.

Puppy brokers act as intermediaries, linking puppy mills and backyard breeders to pet stores as part of the black market puppy pipeline.

Brokers typically purchase puppies from mills or backyard breeders for $50 to $150 and resell them to pet stores for $200 to $400. Pet stores then sell the puppies to customers for prices ranging from $1,000 to $1,400.

There are approximately 250 USDA-licensed puppy brokers in the United States. Puppy mill breeders are usually eager to work with brokers because many brokers will buy nearly all the puppies a breeder has available, regardless of condition, and will truck them over long distances to pet stores.

Source: Konji.com

28. It costs roughly $500,000 to rescue 250 animals from a puppy mill.

Puppy mills have economic costs to society.

When a puppy mill, is closed and large numbers of dogs are removed, this humane action can drain the financial resources of a local community, local animal welfare entities, and large humane organizations.

The Humane Society of America estimates that a puppy mill rescue bust of 250 animals can cost as much as $500,000, and sometimes the bill falls to the taxpaying public.

The costs of closing down a puppy mill are diverse and include more than just the removal and treatment of the animals. Extensive staff time and law enforcement staff time is needed to investigate a facility, along with expenses for renting a large building for temporary shelter, medical issues, and housing and meals for the dogs. 

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

29. An average of $318 – $624 is spent on veterinary care for each dog rescues from a puppy mill.

In a 2015 report, the ASPCA reported spending an average of $318 to $624 on veterinary care for each dog their organization rescued from a puppy mill.

Source: ASPCA.org

30. Even licensed puppy breeders will kill sick dogs that are too costly to treat.

In December 2010, a licensed breeder in Kansas euthanized over 1,200 dogs when a distemper
outbreak in his kennel could not be eradicated. Plenty of other breeders have destroyed their breeding stock due to other preventable disease outbreaks.

These diseases can be treated — but they cost money to do so, any unscrupulous breeders would much rather euthanize an animal than spend even moderate funds to treat them.

And remember — these are licensed puppy breeders. So imagine what unlicensed breeders do!

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

Hungry for more numbers? Check out 52 disturbing animal testing statistics!

What Changes Should You Advocate For?

Looking to stop the deplorable conditions of puppy mills?

As a consumer, your advocacy can go a long way in improving the conditions for animals in commercial breeding facilities.

By supporting the Humane Society’s efforts to raise the minimum standard of care outlined in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), you can help make significant changes in the lives of these animals.

The Humane Society proposes several key changes to the AWA’s minimum care standards. If implemented, these changes will require commercial dog breeders to better meet the physical and psychological needs of dogs:

  1. Prohibit Wire Flooring: Wire flooring is uncomfortable for dogs and often leads to trapped or injured feet. So, alternative flooring that is safe and comfortable should be used.
  2. Double Minimum Required Cage Space: The current regulations permit dogs to live their entire lives in cages only six inches longer than their bodies. The Humane Society suggests doubling this minimum required cage space.
  3. Prohibit Stacking of Enclosures: Stacked enclosures are often used to fit too many animals into a small space, which can impede airflow, block light, and prevent proper sanitation.
  4. Protect Dogs from Extreme Temperatures: Currently, dogs can be kept in temperatures below 45 degrees or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit for up to four hours at a time. These rules need to be updated to ensure dogs are kept in a safe and comfortable temperature range.
  5. Prevent Excessive Breeding: There’s currently no limit on how frequently a dog can be bred. Female dogs are often bred repeatedly without rest, causing physical depletion. Moreover, they’re not screened for inheritable disorders that can harm their offspring. Regulations should be put in place to prevent overbreeding and ensure genetic health.
  6. Require Regular Veterinary Care: Although the AWA was amended in May 2020 to partially address this issue, it stopped short of requiring individual veterinary records for each dog. Regular exams, core vaccinations, preventive care, and proper veterinary records should be mandatory for each dog in breeding operations.
  7. Ensure Regular Exercise: Current rules allow dogs to be kept in small cages all day, every day, as long as certain cage size parameters are met. The Humane Society recommends that dogs have access to an exercise area during daylight hours.
  8. Ensure Regular Socialization: New rules proposed would require at least 30 minutes per day of positive social interaction with humans to address the mental and behavioral needs of dogs.
  9. Encourage Rehoming: Current regulations do not protect unsellable or unbreedable dogs who are otherwise healthy from being destroyed or abandoned. There should be incentives to re-home retired breeding dogs and unsellable puppies.
  10. Provide Continuous Access to Water: Dogs should have continuous access to clean and fresh water for hydration.

To stop puppy mills, it’s essential to raise awareness about these issues in your community, and to lobby your local and national representatives to support changes to the AWA.

How Individuals Can Avoid Supporting Puppy Mills

Avoiding supporting puppy mills is an important step in promoting ethical and responsible pet ownership.

Here are some ways individuals can avoid supporting puppy mills:

  • Adopt from shelters or rescue organizations: Instead of buying a puppy from a pet store or online seller, consider adopting from a local animal shelter or rescue organization. These animals are often in need of loving homes and adopting them helps reduce the demand for puppies from puppy mills.
  • Research and choose reputable breeders: If you’re looking for a specific breed, do thorough research to find reputable breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs. Visit the breeder’s facility, ask for references, and ensure they follow responsible breeding practices, including genetic testing, proper socialization, and a clean environment. In order to avoid supporting puppy mills, it’s essential that you learn to recognize the differences between a puppy mill vs a breeder.
  • Visit the breeder in person: Avoid buying puppies online or through third-party sellers without personally visiting the breeder. Seeing the breeding facility firsthand allows you to assess the conditions and treatment of the dogs, ensuring they are raised in a healthy and humane environment.
  • Ask for health and breeding records: Reputable breeders will provide you with health records of the puppy and its parents. They will also willingly share information about their breeding practices, such as genetic testing, vaccinations, and socialization efforts.
  • Consider adopting older dogs: Puppies are not the only option when adding a new furry family member. Many adult dogs are looking for homes and can make wonderful companions. Consider adopting an older dog who has already gone through the puppy stage.
  • Spread awareness: Educate others about the realities of puppy mills and the importance of avoiding them. Share information on social media, participate in community events, and encourage others to choose responsible sources for acquiring pets.
  • Do not buy animals online. Legitimate breeders generally don’t sell their animals online, requiring in-person meetings instead and prior to purchase. Unscrupulous breeders may post multiple ads and under different names. To detect unethical breeders, you can try searching the phone number of contact info of the poster — if multiple ads appear, they are likely a puppy mill breeder.

FAQs About Puppy Mill Dogs

What is the Most Common Dog in Puppy Mills?

The most common dog breed found in puppy mills varies depending on the region and market demand.

However, some popular breeds commonly associated with puppy mills include Labradors, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, Poodles, French Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Dachshunds. 

These breeds are often targeted by puppy mills due to their popularity and potential for high-profit margins.

How Do Puppy Mills Affect Us, As Consumers?

Puppy mills have various negative impacts, including compromised animal welfare, health risks, emotional consequences, economic burdens, consumer protection challenges, and ethical concerns.

To avoid supporting puppy mills, opt for reputable breeders, shelters, or rescues when looking for a new pet.

What State has the Largest Puppy Mill?

Missouri ranks as the worst state in the U.S. for puppy mills, according to the Humane Society of the United States’ Horrible Hundred 2022 report. These breeding facilities prioritize quantity over the well-being of the dogs, leading to health concerns and neglect of proper care.

How Can I Avoid Buying a Puppy from a Puppy Mill?

When an advertisement includes multiple breeds of puppies for sale, it is likely an indication that the person behind it is a dealer.

It’s essential that the breeder allows you to meet the mother of the puppies and see where the puppies are kept. If the seller provides an excuse for why the mother cannot be seen, do not work with the breeder. Make sure to also read our full list of good breeder criteria to identify a reputable breeder.

How Can I Help End Puppy Mills?

There are many ways to help end puppy mills, including supporting legislation that regulates commercial breeding operations, educating others about the realities of puppy mills, and choosing to adopt rather than purchase a pet.

What is the Difference Between a Responsible Breeder and a Puppy Mill?

A responsible breeder prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs, carefully planning breedings to produce quality puppies. They typically have a limited number of litters each year and just about always have a waiting list for their puppies.

Good breeders provide proper care, socialization, and prioritize finding suitable homes. In contrast, a puppy mill focuses on profit, neglecting the dogs’ welfare with cramped and unsanitary conditions. They prioritize quantity over quality, resulting in unhealthy puppies.

Puppy mills have various negative impacts, including compromised animal welfare, health risks, emotional consequences, economic burdens, consumer protection challenges, and ethical concerns.

To avoid supporting puppy mills, opt for reputable breeders, shelters, or rescues when looking for a new pet.

In conclusion, let the puppy mill statistics serve as a catalyst for action and a reminder of the ethical responsibility we all bear. Consider adoption as a compassionate and morally upright choice when seeking a new furry companion. 

By making this decision, you not only improve the life of an animal in need but also contribute to the eradication of puppy mills and the promotion of responsible pet ownership. 

Together, we can break the cycle and create a more compassionate future for our four-legged friends.


  1. https://americangroomingacademy.com/puppy-mill-awareness-month/
  2. https://www.aspca.org/improving-laws-animals/public-policy/ending-retail-puppy-sales-standing-against-puppy-mill-cruelty
  3. https://www.aspca.org/barred-from-love/puppy-mills-101/puppy-pipeline
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/campylobacter/outbreaks/puppies-12-19/index.html
  5. https://www.heraldnet.com/news/puppy-mill-unlicensed-kennels-rack-up-animal-services-bill/
  6. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/puppy-mill-doublespeak
  7. https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/puppy-mills-facts-and-figures.pdf
  8. https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/puppy-mills-awa-booklet-lores_0.pdf
  9. https://knoji.com/article/puppies-for-sale-what-is-a-puppy-broker/
  10. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/amish-community-puppy-mills/
  11. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/puppy-mills-faq
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159111003005
  13. https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/HSUS_Horrible-Hundred-2022.pdf
  14. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/common-illnesses-in-puppy-mill-dogs/
  15. https://www.vetfolio.com/learn/article/psychological-characteristics-of-rescued-puppy-mill-and-hoarded-dogs
  16. https://www.cdc.gov/campylobacter/outbreaks/puppies-12-19/map.html
  17. https://www.veterinarians.org/puppy-mill-statistics/
  18. https://www.aspca.org/improving-laws-animals/public-policy/usda-enforcement-fiscal-year-2022
  19. https://spots.com/puppy-mill-statistics/
  20. https://www.paws.org/resources/puppy-mills/
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