The hard realities of puppy mills

Updated: Sep 10

Sadly puppy mills exist and there are a lot reasons making it a hard fight for all dog rescues.




So many times when we post a story of one of our puppy mill saves and we get asked, “Why are you not reporting them?”  “Why aren’t they shut down?”  “I thought puppy mills were illegal.” Sadly, these are misconceptions and this is not an easy fight. 


We help a lot of puppy mill survivors. We spay & neuter them, heal them and show them what it means to be a dog.  Some of the most rewarding saves we have ever done were mill dogs.  In the process, we have had to learn to navigate the hard realities of why these horrible places are allowed to continue.


Hard Reality No. 1: 99% of the time it's a licensed business.

Commercial puppy sales are a booming business for primarily the Amish and Mennonite communities in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, etc. The list goes on.  We work with several puppy mills in the region to save the dog when they - the farmer - are “done with it.” 


I will first start off by saying that 99 percent of the commercial dog farms are licensed by the USDA, the Department of State or both.  This means that they are inspected twice a year at minimum and have records, and the dogs and property are inspected.  This means that they are following the state minimum and when reported the state likely will not even go out.  These mills know how to play the game.  It’s a sick game of hide and seek. 


For many years we reported mills and tried to get them shut down.  Nothing was done and the throw away dogs were disposed of inhumanely.  Many times these dogs are shot or drowned.  Did you know it is legal in PA to shoot your own dog?  Sick, but legal as long as the animal doesn’t suffer.  But who is there to be sure the animal doesn’t suffer?  Why does any animal have to die like that?  In fear, not knowing love, never stepping foot in a home.  It just shatters our hearts to think about.  So after years of fighting against them and nothing being done, we decided to offer to take the dogs they were done with or the puppies they couldn’t sell and give them a chance.  This was amazing because they didn’t have to deal with that and would simply call us and we would give these dogs a chance to LIVE!


Hard Reality No. 2: There's not enough funding or humane officers.

We have had a few cases over the last few years we couldn’t turn an eye to.  We tried calling humane officers and people of power to do something and we were either ignored or told they could not help.  A big problem is the state doesn’t have enough funding for dog law.  Many areas don’t even have an officer and other areas must cover for them.  That stretches the officers we have too thin.  This is a massive problem around here.  Sadly, what dogs we are able take in barely scratches the surface.  (number stat here?) Imagine just how many there are.  THOUSANDS!


Hard Reality No. 3: People keep these mills in business.

We attend protests and puppy mill awareness days every chance we get.  We will never stop fighting for them to close, but regrettably, we don’t think it will ever happen through the legal system.  The only way we ever see this stopping is EDUCATION.  STOP BUYING FROM THESE PLACES.  It is all an act they put on to get people to buy.  It is mostly staged.  If you buy a dog from greenfieldpuppies, lancasterpuppies, keystonepuppies and the list goes on, you are enabling the cycle.  I promise you that it wasn’t just one nice Amish family that had one family-raised litter.  We have seen how it is all staged.   Meanwhile, the mother of that puppy you just bought is in a barn and had her puppies ripped away to be put with their family dog while momma sits in filth and squalor.  Then the next week the cycle repeats with the next litter. 


Hard Reality No. 4: People keep these mills in business.

Don’t be quiet about this.  If you have a friend buying a puppy ask questions.  Does the dog have health testing?  Do the parents have clearances?  Were the parents championed?  Where was the dog advertised? (No good breeder is advertising on these sites.) Did they check the buyer out and call their vet?  Is there a contract to return the dog if you cant keep it?  These are just a few things a reputable breeder will do.    

The more we educate the less hopefully people will buy and be mindful.  I won’t sit here and say rescue is the ONLY way to go.  There are some very good and reputable preservation breeders out there bettering the breeds they love.  Without them, we would have all inbred dogs everywhere.  We have done genetic testing on many of our mill dogs advertised on the sites above and most of them were products of inbreeding.  We have also saved many puppies with serious genetic issues.  Do you think the breeder contacted the rest of the litter?  Nope!  Because as long as the rest of the litter is sellable, its still profitable for them and that is the ONLY bottom line for these places sadly.  It doesn’t matter what health issues arise down the line, it is no longer their issue.  Inbreeding is proven to increase chances of health and behavioral issues at any point in life and also ages the dog significantly in life span.

It is all supply and demand you see.  They will stop breeding when people stop buying and move on to the next thing making money which hopefully isn’t live animals.  The only way to have people stop buying is to educate EVERYONE we can.  Look at the faces of some of the dogs we saved.  They lived a life of pain to make some money. IT’S A VERY LUCRATIVE INDUSTRY.  Is that worth the cute puppy someone wants right that second?  How about the potential health issues down the line?

At the end of the day we need to stop buying so we can slow down on the numbers being produced and hopefully one day stop them all together.  We need every single one of you to help us do that.  Every person educated is one less person to potentially buy from these places.  We realize it will not happen overnight.  Until then, we will save as many lives as we can with your help.    


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