There is much disagreement about the phrase “puppy mill.” As I have written before, I consider a puppy mill any commercial dog breeding operation because I focus on the word “mill.” In a recent Supreme Court decision out of Missouri, a puppy mill was defined as a “commercial farming operation in which purebred dogs are raised in large numbers.” Smith v. Humane Society of the United States, 519 S.W. 3D 789, 801 (2017). I have been told by some that use of the phrase puppy mill is so offensive to some dog breeders that they equate it with a racial slur. I say that to take a description of a business operation and try to compare it to discriminatory words related to race is not only misplaced, but is surely offensive to those races which have been slandered through the use of slurs. A mill is an operation which has volume output, whether it is a paper mill, a textile mill, a cotton mill or a puppy mill.
Not all puppy mills are created equal. Some are run by people for whom dog breeding is a family affair and has been for generations. Although they raise dogs in large numbers, the dogs are housed in comfortable buildings, they receive regular veterinary care, they are exercised daily and they are socialized to people. Although I do not approve of commercial breeding of dogs, I do acknowledge that some breeders do take good care of the animals they mass produce. Others, quite unfortunately, are nothing short of dog prisons where dogs are kept in small, cramped cages (most of which do not have a solid floor surface) and in which the focus is entirely on profit. The dogs do not leave the cages. They do not receive veterinary care and are not socialized to people. Many have severe physical and psychological issues even though they are “purebred” dogs and may be registered with the American Kennel Club or some other purebred dog registry.
- If you live in an area where an organization is hosting a Puppy Mill Awareness event, I encourage you to attend. Most are family friendly and are appropriate for children because the organizations want to educate children in order to reach new generations of people who will someday share their homes with dogs.
- If you do not live close to an event, I encourage you to take 86 minutes out of a day to watch the documentary film, “Dog by Dog.” This is a wonderful look into the money and power aspects of the commercial dog breeding industry which keep the factory farming of dogs alive and thriving. You will no doubt be surprised to learn how political this issue is even though it relates to “man’s best friend.” The film is available on a host of platforms including Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, Vudu and Google Play.
-Consider reading "Bark Until Heard." This book was written by a dog lover who learned some very hard lessons about the dog breeding industry and who shared those experiences with all of us. Becky's book is wonderful in many ways, but what I love about it most is that it will resonate with most dog lovers on a personal level and may help others find their own voice on behalf of dogs.
- Take some time to educate yourself about puppy mills and about the commercial dog farming industry. I have a number of blogs on the topic here which you can find using the keywords which appear here on the right hand side of my blog page. I also recommend spending some time on the following websites:
Harley's Dream - End Puppy Mills
National Puppy Mill Project
The Puppy Mill Project
ASPCA Puppy Mill Information