A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Many of these facilities mass-produce puppies under substandard conditions; dogs live in cramped, deplorable environments and many of them are diseased and deprived of proper nutrition, medical attention, companionship and socialisation.
Poor breeding practices often result in puppies with genetic flaws and physical abnormalities, which are not always evident at the time of purchase. The ones with obvious flaws that cannot be sold are often simply disposed of.
Puppy mill puppies are sold directly to the public through the mill itself, newspaper ads, pet shops and the internet (through forums and online classifieds), and consumer demand for purebred puppies and “designer” puppies (e.g. labradoodles) are the main reasons that the industry thrives today.
Puppy Mill Housing
Puppy mill dogs are mostly confined in crowded cages and unsanitary conditions. Dogs confined in crowded conditions often fight or suffer from wounds and pressure sores that go untreated. To minimise cleanup, the dogs are kept in cages with wire flooring allowing waste to fall through. Wire flooring often causes injuries to their paws and legs, resulting in infected open wounds and deformities.
Puppies may have to eat and sleep in their own excrement due to unsanitary practices by mill operators, and they are sometimes infested with fleas and covered with flies. Many puppies are exposed to deadly and highly contagious diseases such as parvovirus and are prone to parasite infections and intestinal worms. The conditions they live in make it easy for such diseases to spread quickly to puppies and dogs at the mill. Left untreated, such puppies can die.
Puppy Mill Breeding
Puppy mills breed dogs for quantity. Quality traits are rarely a consideration, inbreeding is prevalent. Puppies are sometimes born with serious genetic problems and abnormalities that predispose them to lifelong health issues which may not be evident in their puppyhood. Such health issues may result in hefty vet bills or death at a young age. Some puppies miss out on critical social development by being taken from their mothers and their littermates too early in order for pet stores to market them at a young age, resulting in behavioural disorders, including shyness, nervousness and fear. Yet, these puppies are sold to unsuspecting puppy buyers, leaving these issues for them to worry about later. In order to maximise profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters.