For those who do not know, a puppy mill is a high-volume commercial dog breeding facility that often treats their dogs poorly and fails to abide by responsible breeding standards. While no pet parent would choose to support a puppy mill operation, breeders can be sneaky, and buyers often wind up supporting a puppy mill without knowing it. In order to avoid dealing with a puppy mill breeding operation by accident, be aware of these five warning signs:
1) The Breeder Has a Large Number of Puppies Available
Responsible breeders respect a dog’s natural breeding cycle and breed according to what is best for the mother, father and puppies’ wellbeing. Respectable breeders typically have one litter of puppies at a time, most of whom are already claimed. A puppy mill, on the other hand, will often have dozens of litters available at any given time.
2) There Are No Parents Present
When you purchase a dog from a reputable breeder, the breeder will typically have the puppy’s mother and father on-site and available for you to meet. If this is not the case, it is in your best interest to avoid purchasing a puppy from the breeder. No parents on-site typically means the parents are in terrible physical shape or that the breeder did not actually breed the puppy and is selling it second-hand.
3) The Breeder Does Not Offer a Contract
Purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder often involves a contract that is signed by both parties. This contract typically involves a spay/neuter agreement, papers, a statement of health and an agreement that, should your relationship with the new puppy not work out, you will return the dog to the breeder rather than taking it to a shelter. The presence of this contract indicates that the breeder cares about the dogs while the absence of the contract means there is a strong chance you are dealing with a puppy-mill breeder who would rather sever all ties.
4) The Puppies Are Too Young
Everyone knows that it is in a puppy’s best interest to stay with its mother until it is old enough to be weaned. Puppy mills, however, often take puppies from their mothers much earlier in order to cut costs and produce the maximum number of litters. If a breeder presents you with a puppy that is too young, walk away.
5) The Breeder Does Not Invite You to the Kennel
Reputable breeders are typically happy to showcase their facilities. Puppy mill breeders, on the other hand, will go to great lengths to avoid having anyone set foot on their property. If you ask to meet with a breeder and he or she suggests any location other than the kennel itself, be suspicious. This generally indicates that you are dealing with a puppy mill.
While puppy mills are unfortunate places, they do exist and many pet parents wind up purchasing a puppy from one without knowing it. In addition to supporting puppy mill operations, purchasing a puppy mill hound often results in a dog that is badly bred and in poor health.
The most important thing is to be careful during all your interactions when getting a puppy from a breeder. Remember, adopting from a shelter and saving a life is a wonderful thing to do. Many soon-to-be pet parents, who would prefer a purebred, think that they have to go through a breeder when the fact is that there are often plenty of purebreds at shelters just waiting for you to come and take them home. What are you waiting for?