Puppy Mill Facts

Download the 2014 flyer on puppy mill facts.

Read a memo distributed to the Connecticut legislature in February 2014 from the ASPCA, CVA, and the HSUS.

Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills.

Almost all pet shop puppies come from puppy mills, large-scale commercial breeding operations where profits are given a higher priority than the well-being of the dogs.

Many cruel conditions found in puppy mills are legal under federal law.
Under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) – which outlines minimum standards of care for dogs and cats bred for commercial resale – it is legal for a dog to be kept in a stacked cage only 6 inches longer than the dog in each direction (think, beagle in a household dishwasher), with wire flooring that injures the dog’s paws and legs, and through which waste sometimes falls on dogs in the cages below. Dogs are typically bred at every opportunity with little or no recovery time between litters and are generally killed when “spent” after a few years. Federal law fully sanctions such cruel treatment.

Even the weak federal law is not enforced, compounding the animal suffering in puppy mills. According to the U.S. Office of Inspector General – which in 2010, audited the USDA’s wholesale commercial breeder inspection process – USDA enforcement of even the minimal AWA standards is extremely poor. Inhumane conditions such as open and festering wounds, tick and insect infestations, and large accumulations of dog waste were pervasive in USDA-licensed and inspected commercial breeding facilities, but the USDA did little to curb this cruelty.

Connecticut pet shops obtain their dogs from puppy mills that rival the facilities documented in the U.S. Inspector General’s Audit for their cruel treatment of dogs.
In 2009, the Connecticut legislature passed a law requiring pet shops to provide breeder and broker information to the state Department of Agriculture. This has made it possible to trace the dogs in Connecticut pet shops directly to puppy mills. USDA inspection reports on just a fraction of these facilities supplying dogs to Connecticut pet shops reveal a “parade of horribles:” untreated illness and injuries; significant waste accumulation, dirty food receptacles, and insect infestation; failure to provide water for long periods of time; poorly ventilated kennels, including excessively warm temperatures and ammonia-saturated air; too-small cages (in which the mother dogs remained 24/7 until “spent”); dogs with no bedding on wire floors; dogs living in almost total darkness. Information gleaned from USDA Inspection files was compiled into a report, and submitted as testimony to the Legislative Task Force on 12/4/13. View the report here.

In FY 2012, Connecticut’s Animal Population Control Program (APCP) spent $733,199 to reduce the dog and cat overpopulation problem. Still, in FY 2012, 2,700 dogs and cats were euthanized in Connecticut’s municipal shelters. (See APCP 2012 Annual report)

Many pet shops have built successful businesses based on the ethical principles of adoption and rescue. This model has strong appeal to the public, who flock to pet shops like Petco and Petsmart – which partner with nonprofit rescue organizations to find homes for needy dogs and cats – precisely because of their humane practices.

Behavioral problems are frequently found in puppy mill dogs. “In two large-scale studies of dogs from high-volume commercial breeding establishments (one study focusing on the adult breeding dogs and the other on the puppies sold through pet stores), the evidence showed conclusively that these breeding facilities are highly injurious to both groups of dogs, resulting in severe, extensive and long-term harm to the behavioral and psychological well-being of the dogs.” Read more about the studies here.

For additional information:

Complete data on 2012 breeders with USDA violations, supplying CT pet shops – based on testimony to the Task Force 12/4/13

ASPCA No More Pet Store Puppies

Humane Society of the United States Puppy Mill page
Best Friends Animal Society puppy mill initiatives

The Pratt Case study showing how the USDA does not effectively oversee puppy mills
Animal Welfare Act: Selected regulations demonstrating the federal law’s inadequacy

What Is a Puppy Mill? An educational video created by Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART) and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)


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