About Puppy Mills

Who can resist those sweet puppy eyes and kisses? It is rare for someone to not melt or swoon over a darling furball of energy. But it is rare that someone pauses to ponder over the origin of that puppy. It is not rare that most people are unaware and would be surprised to learn that there is a huge commercial industry dedicated to mass production of these animals.

The reality of it is thousands of suffering dogs in puppy mills. Locked in small cages, most never get out their prisons. They are bred over and over again until they die. The only way to free them from the misery of these puppy mills is to eliminate the demand for puppies by refusing to buy a puppy mill puppy. When the buying stops, the demand will too and the misery will end.

Click on any of the tabs below to learn more about puppy mills.

How to spot a Puppy Mill

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From the 7 November – 15 December 2013, we ran an MRT poster ad campaign in the trains along the North-South/East-West and Circle Lines.

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Singapore, 22 October 2012 

The Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) recently completed a third undercover survey, in a follow-up to the ‘Stop the Cruelty in Puppy Mills’ campaign that launched in October 2010. Conducted sometime between August to October 2012, the two month undercover operation saw the SPCA visiting a total of 49 pet shops and farms, including 20 pet shops and 18 pet farms selling dogs. In November last year, a similar operation conducted saw a total of 22 premises surveyed in total.

The survey results from the recent operation revealed that general hygiene and conditions of the animals have improved, but other prevalent issues such as mandatory licensing and providing correct and proper pet care advice are seriously lacking.


In relation to assisting with application of dog licences, there has been no improvement since the second undercover survey. 77 per cent (14 out of 20 pet shops and 13 out of 15 pet farms) of the establishments would not help with licensing. This is in breach of No. 14 under Regulatory requirements Pet Shop Licence Conditions in which it states that “when a dog is sold, the shop must apply for the dog licence for the buyer and lodge the microchip number of the dog with AVA”.

Nine out of 10 farms selling large breeds or non-approved HDB breeds misinformed consumers to purchase the animal without informing the authorities, or to license the animal under another address, or keep the animal at home without attracting attention from the neighbours. One such ignorant establishment said to license a pet through the HDB.

Pet Care

No pet advice was volunteered by the majority of pet farms and pet shops to prospective buyers. Most of the pet shops did not display any pet care information or give out any pet care leaflets, even when questioned extensively about pet care. There was also no emphasis on responsible ownership as buyers were widely recommended and encouraged to cage the animals for toilet training or confine them in small spaces for long periods – from half a day to 22 hours for three weeks to three months duration. Other improper suggestions included “minimise taking the puppy out”, “try not to take the puppy out of the cage as it is too young”, “let it stay in the cage till you are back from work”, and “the puppy must be caged until its vaccination”.

94 per cent of pet farms and shops would not provide details or allow the viewing of puppies’ parents while only 34 per cent of shops and farms displayed their grading.

Corinne Fong, Executive Director of the SPCA says “Two years on and the extent of improvements and progress is dismal. Compliance of the law such as mandatory licensing at point of purchase remains a nagging issue and requires immediate addressing. It is disheartening to hear the misinformation offered to potential buyers by the pet shop attendants despite structured training in pet animal management and welfare made compulsory for the pet retail industry.”

Veron Lau, President, Cat Welfare Society, said “It’s been two years since the animal welfare groups have brought forward a set of recommendations to improve the standards of puppy farms and pet shops in Singapore and it is disappointing that the undercover survey still indicates that there is so little improvement. There is great urgency for better enforcement from the authorities and greater effectiveness from the pet shop association in upholding ethics and standards in its industry.”


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Facebook Bans Puppy Mill Ads

It’s very heartening to hear that social media giant, Facebook is getting in on the act and taking a stance against puppy mills who use Facebook for their commercial gains.



In response to concerns brought by the ASPCA, actions are now being taken to ensure that puppy mill puppies will no longer be listed or sold through Facebook’s Marketplace.

Unfortunately, many of the ads placed online are from puppy mills, where dogs are kept at large-scale commercial facilities in filthy conditions without even the most basic care or socialization. The partnership between the ASPCA, Facebook and Marketplace partner Oodle came about as part of the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies campaign, which is intended to raise awareness of puppy mills and encourage people to adopt and avoid pet stores that sell animals.

“Removing an online platform for the cruel puppy mill industry sets a positive example of corporate citizenship and will help improve the lives of countless dogs,” said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. “Most consumers are unaware they are perpetuating animal cruelty by purchasing a puppy online, and given the visibility of Marketplace on Facebook, this move has the potential to raise critical awareness about unscrupulous online breeders.”

Breeders who sell directly to the public are also exempt from regulations that require them to be licensed and inspected by the USDA, allowing breeders who use online transactions to operate without any oversight, which means that not only will puppies continue to be mass produced, but that adult dogs in these facilities are condemned to a lives in cages as breeding machines.

“Consumers who purchase a puppy from a website run the risk of acquiring an unhealthy animal and often end up with expensive vet bills and broken hearts,” said Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign. “We hope additional online retailers and classifieds listings will follow this example and stop providing a platform for puppy mill sales.”

The process to remove puppy mill ads has already started and more than 10,000 have reportedly already been taken down. Ads from rescues and shelters that require adoption and rehoming fees will still be welcome on the site.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/facebook-bans-puppy-mill-ads.html#ixzz1qJ7Rut4O

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Follow-Up: Survey on Pet Shops and Pet Farms

In a follow up to animal welfare group’s previous survey on pet shops and pet farms in October 2010, a second survey was carried out in November 2011. This time round, 22 premises were surveyed in total, 9 shops and 13 farms.

We are encouraged at some positive results (better conditions in areas of hygiene and flooring) which  we attribute to stepped up enforcement by AVA,  but problems still persist (e.g. shops and farms still don’t license puppies even though AVA regulations clearly state they must).  Water bottles are still  preferred over water bowls but dogs are equipped with a tongue to lap.

Of serious concern though, is the fact that none of our potential buyers were questioned on their knowledge of dog care. This is certainly reflective of the shop/farm representatives’ lack of concern for the future well-being of the dogs they are selling. Although a compulsory pet care course is imposed on shops and farms’ employees, those surveyed did not seem to be following through and applying it in their work place.

Here are the key findings:

  • Conditions

– Hygiene was found to be satisfactory in 100% of premises surveyed
– 82% of premises were found to have suitable flooring in their cages (last year it was 46%)

  • Licensing

– At least 3 of the 9 shops surveyed gave the impression that they were willing to sell a large breed to our volunteer. And they said that the volunteer could appeal to AVA for an exemption
– 73% of shops/farms that were asked (11/15) were not going to help license puppies that were sold
– One of the shops had a notice on their desk issued by AVA which stated that pet shops must apply for the license for buyers. Even when shopper pointed this out, the shop attendant did not seem to understand that it is their duty to apply for the license.
– One farm said, don’t apply never mind, as long as neighbours don’t complain.
– One farm said they wont help with licensing because need owners IC, very troublesome.

  • Pet care

– When asked if dogs need to be walked, one attendant said “no need to walk” and “small breeds don’t really need exercise”.
– 69% of shops/farms (9/13) did not show concern that the buyer was going to cage the puppy
– 0% of shops/farms (0/16) questioned the buyer’s knowledge of dog care – this is of serious concern to SPCA  because many dog owners we come across in our daily investigative work, show a lack of care for their animals (e.g. dogs caged or tied for long periods with minimal socialisation and exercise).  If buyers are not educated sufficiently on the need to provide proper care, it may result in the animal’s welfare  being  compromised.

  • Parents of puppies

– When asked to see the puppy’s parents, one shop said “no one in Singapore does that”. Another said “breeders are too busy”.

The SPCA has forwarded the results of the survey to the AVA  expressing its concerns on the importance of licensing at the point of sale.  If there was strict enforcement (e.g. mandatory licensing at point of sale for breeders/sellers), it would close up the loopholes and  help prevent abandonment which is a common problem. It would also help the authorities in their efforts to keep Singapore a rabies free country.

The SPCA also expressed its concern to AVA on the need for those selling dogs to impart some of their knowledge (gained from the mandatory animal care course at Temasek Polytechnic) to their customers, in the interest of responsible dog ownership.

“It’s a better dog’s life now…”  a Special Report in S.T. Saturday 27 August,  highlighted active citizenry, and how things are improving all round for puppy mill dogs. It told of animal lovers and animal welfare groups speaking up against the cruelty present in puppy mills (two high profile cases where operators were prosecuted were also highlighted), with the latter drawing up suggested improvements in animal welfare standards for these establishments.

For many dogs that have been bought commercially however, life is not better. SPCA’s Inspectors are looking into complaints of canines  allegedly kept in poor conditions such as close confinement (by leash or in cages). Lack of socialization and interaction is also rife in many pet dog’s lives. As much as there may have been initiatives by the government to improve standards of animal welfare in recent years, stronger enforcement for improving the quality of life of many pet dogs (such as those pictured here)  is needed.

The news in the article  that one breeder has 500 breeding dogs, was indeed an eye opener – in our densely populated environment, SPCA is of the opinion that there should be a limit imposed on the number of dogs bred and sold commercially. When there is a surplus of animals on sale (stemming from a free market policy) , it encourages impulse buying. With minimal education at the point of sale, dogs and other pets end up becoming no more than consumer items, and when the novelty wears off, they become victims of neglect.

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Animal Welfare Groups go Undercover at Pet Shops and Farms


Singapore, 24 February 2011 – “Can you help with the licensing of the dog? Can you tell me more about the puppy’s parents? Am I able to see the puppy’s parents?” These and more questions were posed to 35 pet shops and farms when the animal welfare groups went undercover over the period of November and December 2010.

The undercover operation was a follow-up from the ‘Stop the Cruelty in Puppy Mills’ campaign launched in October 2010 which saw the birth of a dedicated website (http://sgpuppies.com) a joint effort by seven animal welfare groups to raise awareness about the unethical and unacceptable practices of puppy mills in Singapore. The undercover operation (survey results attached) was aimed at establishing the current conditions for dogs in pet shops and pet farms, to observe the sales process first hand whilst ascertaining how much information was conveyed to customers, in terms of pet care and background of puppies on sale.

The outcome and findings from the undercover operations is far from positive. A total of 19 out of 35 establishments failed to comply with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) standards and these cases have since been referred to the AVA. Of the conditions not being adhered to these included unsuitable flooring, small cages and unsatisfactory hygiene. In relation to assisting with application of dog licences, all 13 pet farms and 33 per cent of shops declined to help. 92 per cent of the farms and shops did not question prospective buyers on their knowledge of puppy care and very few shops were proactive in offering pet care tips.

79 per cent did not provide details about the puppy’s parents when asked, while 84 per cent did not allow viewing of parents. Two responses to a request to see the parents were “For what? You are buying the puppy not the parent”, while another question was met with a counterclaim “If you can find another pet farm which allows you to see the parents, the pup is free”.

Ms. Deirdre Moss, Executive Director of the SPCA says the disappointing results and glaring lapses are somewhat expected. “It is a case of puppies for profit and the results highlight the urgent need for setting higher industry standards and best practices, a robust licensing system and increase rigorous enforcement for the trade”, said Ms. Moss

Ms Shirley Goh a volunteer from Cat Welfare Society, who participated in the survey found that in many pet shops, the living condition of the animals do not meet the AVA stipulated standards, “This exercise shows how important it is that the public are made aware of animal welfare standards in the pet trade to make an informed decision when they are buying, as well as to act as community eyes and ears when it comes to safeguarding the welfare of the animals.”

Mr. Ricky Yeo, President of Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) said “the survey has exposed the glaring shortfalls of the pet trade with a blatant disregard for the standards set to ensure the welfare of the animals being sold. On top of enforcement, the public also needs to empower themselves with the knowledge and responsibility to discern the ethical pet shops and to report errant ones.”

The results from the undercover operation have been forwarded in a paper to the AVA with key recommendations such as improvements to flooring, abolishment of the use of water bottles, mandatory licensing at the point of sale as well as proper counseling on pet care prior to any purchase of a pet.

Other recommendations include a, “Think twice before you buy” poster (designed by welfare groups and endorsed by AVA) that should be prominently displayed in all shops and farms, and improvements to be made in all 19 premises that failed to meet AVA’s standards.

Meanwhile, an official reply was received from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), following a joint proposal last July, setting out recommendations and best practices for these establishments. According to the AVA, they had carefully considered each item in the groups’ proposal and had met the farm licensees to address the issues on the farms. AVA has taken all the input into consideration and will be adopting a holistic approach, whereby the farms will be required to provide AVA with their plan for improvement. The farms have been asked to ensure that the plans are followed. The AVA will also be registering existing kennel operators and introducing screening for new individuals who wish to practice dog breeding on the farms. In addition AVA officers will be conducting more frequent inspections.

Click here for the survey findings.

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