Puppy mills

Puppy mills (also called puppy farms) are horrendous places that churn out as many puppies as possible, in the shortest time and at the lowest expense. That means terrible, filthy, crowded housing, minimal human contact, no veterinary care, and unspeakable and heartbreaking animal suffering.

Common features of puppy mills:

  • Animals kept in crowded, filthy barns, sheds, or basements
  • Often, cages are piled in stacks and the waste from the upper levels falls onto the ones beneath
  • Unbearable stench of ammonia from urine and feces buildup
  • Animals are fed the cheapest possible food
  • Breeding dogs are bred continuously from a young age till they can no longer produce enough to make it worth keeping them alive
  • Physical and mental suffering from long-term, extreme confinement and deprivation
  • Animals receive little or no veterinary care
  • No positive human interaction
  • No toys, no exercise, no stimulation
  • Puppies are completely unsocialized to people, other dogs, household noises, etc.

This puppy mill dog had never been groomed. Its fur was so matted it was barely recognizable as a dog.

As horrific as their experience is, the puppies are the lucky ones in a puppy mill. Because at least they (usually) get out and have the chance at a new life full of comfort, care, and love. Their parents live a life of suffering and deprivation as puppy-making machines, never having a soft bed or any comfort, nor feeling the touch of a caring hand.

Read the official Canadian definition of a puppy mill, as generated by the National Companion Animal Coalition: Definition of a puppy mill.

Where do puppy mills sell their puppies?

Testimony from the Fido-finding trail

Don't just take our word for it.

Check out these stories posted by Canadians who bought puppies from pet stores and backyard breeders.

Many puppy mills sell directly to pet stores or to brokers. Brokers are the middlemen who gather puppies from various puppy mills and backyard breeders, often getting them far too young at 5 or 6 weeks old and trucking them long distances to various stores.

Puppy mills also sell directly to the public through their own slick websites or ads in internet or newspaper classifieds. They will usually offer to save you the trip of picking up the puppy from them by meeting you in a parking lot or other location to deliver your puppy. This, of course, is so that you don’t see the squalor where the puppy was raised. Some will simply ship the puppy to you.

Amazingly, some mills do invite people to come to their location, though they will usually allow them only in their house, not in the barns or outbuildings where neglected dogs are kept.

How do I know if a breeder is responsible and humane?

You can only know by personally visiting them to see where the dogs are raised, bred, and housed and to make sure they meet the criteria for ethical, responsible breeding. Learn more here.

Aren’t puppy mills illegal?

We don’t have laws in Canada specifically against puppy mills. But, the worst puppy mills are in violation of animal cruelty laws due to the suffering and distress endured by the animals. The problem is they are located in rural areas and may not be discovered by humane society or SPCA inspectors. When inspectors do discover puppy mills, they are quick to take action to investigate.

If you find or suspect a puppy mill, call your local humane society or SPCA or the police.

Are Canadian puppy mills as bad as those ones I’ve heard of in the U.S.?

Some Canadian puppy mills are just as terrible as the worst U.S. puppy mills you may have seen pictures or videos of. If you want to find out, watch this video from the Humane Society U.S. about a raid of a Canadian puppy mill.

Click here to learn more about puppy mills in Canada and why it’s so difficult to shut them down using our current laws.

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