Puppy mills are commercial mass dog-breeding facilities that put profit above the welfare of dogs. Most puppy mill dogs are housed in shockingly poor conditions, especially the ones kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever joining a family.
After they’re no longer profitable, these dogs are simply discarded. And hundreds of thousands of puppies are born every year, adding to the pet overpopulation that fills our nation’s animal shelters.
Puppy mills sell their “products” to unsuspecting consumers in pet stores, over the Internet, and through newspaper classified advertisements. Many of the puppies have serious behavioral and health problems that might not be apparent for months—problems that can cost thousands of dollars to treat, if treatable at all.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) licenses and inspects puppy mills for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and some states have laws to protect the animals. But puppy mills can get around USDA licensing requirements by selling directly to consumers, and many simply rely on the limited reach of the law—with so few inspectors and only minor fines in place, it’s often easy for puppy mills to stay in business.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has investigated puppy mills for decades, exposing the realities of the industry. We’ve lobbied for the current laws—and for more money to enforce them. And we continue our support for a bill now before Congress that would crack down on chronic violators and raise minimal standards for the facilities. We’ve also educated millions of consumers on the issue, most recently through our new Stop Puppy Mills campaign.
We’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with other organizations and law enforcement officials, as well, to shut down puppy mills. Last year we investigated a facility in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County and joined with local officials in executing a search warrant for the property. And this summer our Spay-Neuter Clinic and Animal Wellness Center in Dallas provided spaying and neutering surgery and vaccinations for more than 120 dogs seized during a raid at a suspected puppy mill in Texas. And our Northern Rockies Regional Office joined the Judith Basin County Sheriff’s Office and state Disaster and Emergency Services personnel in a multisite raid in Montana and organized a team to assess the 116 seized dogs.