Puppy Mills 101:
What is a Puppy Mill and Why is it Bad?
What is a Puppy Mill?

"Puppy Mill" is a generic term used to describe breeders of dogs who aim for quantity, not quality.  Oftentimes, puppy millers' treatment of dogs is neglectful by humane standards.  Millers are known for trying to breed every dog that comes into season, regardless of whether the dog is in good health or whether it has produced healthy puppies in the past.  These approaches can produce puppies that are plagued with health problems, some of them severe.
Why is a puppy mill bad for dogs?

A puppy miller who breeds without regard for the health of the dog taints the line of the breed and perpetuates health issues.  A puppy mill dog who is also bred by its new owner perpetuates the health problems even further, creating problems for the breed as a whole and adding to the pet population puppies that are of poor quality.  The health issues at a puppy mill become part of the breed's genetic heredity, causing problems and pain for generations to come.

Timmy, at right, was rescued from a puppy mill.  After spending considerable time in foster care, Timmy was adopted to a permanent home but still required additional surgery and medical care.  Genetic abnormalities bred at the mill left Timmy without a full 4th leg and even left one of his siblings without a properly developed digestive system.
What are the conditions like at a puppy mill?

Dogs at puppy mills live in conditions that most of us cannot imagine.  Multiple dogs are left to share a single crate and may never be let out.  They are expected to urinate and defecate in the same area where they live and sleep and therefore end up dirty and infested with disease. Their paws never feel anything other than the wire crate beneath them.  If their mill is nice enough to let them out of the crate, the only alternative is usually a concrete pad where, again, they must share their bathroom area with their play and sleep areas.

Puppy mill dogs have minimal people contact, leaving them socially underdeveloped.  They rarely get necessary vaccines, passing illness from one to another through feces, close contact, and water.  Some puppy mill dogs are confined so much that they can be physically underdeveloped due to a lack of exercise.

Some of the health problems that affect puppy mill dogs include severe skin infections, bladder and urinary tract infections, kidney infections, aborted pregnancies, genetically mal-formed limbs and internal organs, flea infestations, and hip and knee problems.

Luckily, many of these issues can be treated upon rescue once the dogs are provided with veterinary care.  Some of the dogs with genetic disorders also find new homes with families who show them a great deal of compassion.
This example of a puppy mill shows the close quarters where dozens of dogs were left to urinate, defecate, and live among the concrete slabs.  In these photos, the "mud" surrounding the fence is actually an accumulation of feces that the millers hosed off the cement.  The dogs at this southern mill lacked proper shelter from the heat and elements.  Many arrived in rescue dirty, in need of vet care, and lacking basic vaccinations and puppy care.
One Westie recently rescued from a puppy mill was suffering from this bladder stone the size of a gumball!  Thankfully, Westie Rescue provided him with complete veterinary care and a new home, and now the little guy is "living the good life!"
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