Breeders who sell over 25 animals annually to the wholesale pet market fall under this category. The animals raised in puppy mills are raised solely for profit. The operators usually use it as a second source of income and spend as little money possible for the care of these animals. Pet stores want to obtain their "merchandise" for as cheap as possible and in order for the puppy mills to gain the most profit, they don't take proper care of the animals.
These animals may spend their entire lives crammed into crowded cages where they are denied human contact. Sometimes the cages are stacked on top of each other and the feces and urine from one cage can drain into the one below. Some dogs have even been found in rabbit cages, rusty cages and junk cars. The animals are usually unprotected from weather extremes and they are sometimes subject to live among carcasses that have not been discarded. Fresh water, food, healthcare, exercise and grooming are not provided. Medical conditions often go untreated (to save money) and the puppies are often infested with parasites and viruses.
A responsible breeder will not breed a female through every heat cycle, but a puppy mill will. Bred constantly, the dogs' litter sizes are decreased. These animals are then deemed useless. They are shot, given to animal shelters (the dog's already in rough shape), or sold to research labaratories.
Puppies are taken away from their mothers as early as 6 weeks and shipped to pet stores sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles away. Only about half survive the trip and many of the survivors suffer from a variety of illnesses.
About 90% of all puppies sold by pet stores are from puppy mills.
Wholesale dog breeding and the shipment of animals is poorly regulated because of lack of resources and there are more than 4,800 puppy mills nationwide. Sometimes facilities are only inspected once a year and even then offenders may be given endless opportunities to correct the offense. Legal action is rare. Even then it may take years to prosecute.
It is hard to resist the adorable puppies sitting in the pet store window because you may feel like you are saving that puppy. However, your purchase just guarantees that another puppy will be there to replace his spot. As long as consumers continue to purchase these dogs from pet stores, puppy mills will continue to produce animals.
So, where do you get a purebred dog?
There are other options if you have your heart set on a purebred animal. We get lots of purebred animals that are never claimed or sometimes surrendered to us by their owner. Small dogs & big dogs, you name it - we've had it. It may take a bit longer this way, but you are not contributing to the breeding/puppy mill problem. There are many other shelter and breed rescue groups that may also have what you're looking to adopt. Or, reconsider and get a mixed breed dog - they are wonderful too!