Puppy Mills: Definition, History, Common Locations
What is a puppy mill? A puppy mill, or puppy farm, is a large-scale, for-profit, facility that usually operates under substandard conditions concerning the well-being of dogs in their care. (There’s little doubt that the term “mill” was ascribed to these facilities due to the negative connotation of the "grinding out" of their product – in this case puppies – like a wheat mill grinds out wheat). Usually found in urban areas due to the controversial nature of their operations, there are an estimated 4000 puppy mills in the United States alone, producing more than half a million puppies a year.
These mass dog-breeding establishments produce puppies commercially, selling them wholesale to the pet industry or to individuals who are either uninformed or unconcerned with the quality of puppy they are buying – only the price. Many puppy mills are characterized by overcrowding, filth, inadequate shelter, insufficient food and water, and little or no veterinary care. Most puppy mill owners sell their dogs wholesale to brokers who, sequentially, sell them primarily to pet stores. Because profit is the ultimate goal of the puppy mill owner, breeding practices are often inferior, and the breeding dogs are kept under the least expensive conditions possible that will keep them alive and reproducing.
History Of Puppy Mills
Puppy mills began to surface during the post WW2 era, when mid-western farmers were looking for an alternative source of income and responded to a growing demand for puppies, resulting in the development of the first commercial puppy business. As these businesses grew, both small and large retail outlets began to sell puppies through their pet departments. At around the same time, the first pet store chains were established.
Unfortunately, few puppy farmers were experienced in canine husbandry and often began their operations with little money and under less-than-ideal conditions. They housed their dogs in the chicken coops and rabbit hutches they already had (above), provided little affection and socialization because they didn't know that puppies needed this exposure, and, because they couldn't afford to pay, often neglected good nutrition and veterinary care for the animals.
Where Are Puppy Mills Located?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, thousands of puppy mills are located around the country, usually found in urban or otherwise clandestine places. A high concentration of both puppy mills and breeders has been reported to be located in the states of Pennsylvania and Missouri. For example, Pennsylvania, with one of the highest concentrations of puppy mills in the country, has earned the dubious title of "Puppy Mill Capital of the East." Due to a combination of outdated or unenforced laws, uninformed consumers and a lack of concern for animal welfare on the part of the operators of puppy mills, Pennsylvania has become a hotbed of this type of activity.
Similarly, in Canada, puppy mills operate in many provinces, a large portion of these operations being found in the Province of Quebec. Due to its particularly poor legislation and enforcement surrounding commercial dog breeding operations, and because the Quebec government provides very little funding to animal cruelty investigations compared to other provinces, the result has been the creation of up to 2200 puppy mills in that province. Half the dogs bred in Quebec are sold outside the province to pet stores and wholesalers across Canada and, until recently, the United States.
Next: Shocking Conditions In Puppy Mills
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