What is the Animal Legal Defense Fund doing about Puppy Mills?

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What are puppy mills?

The term “puppy mill,” generally refers to a large-scale commercial dog-breeding facility where the emphasis is on profits over the welfare of the dogs. The goal of puppy mills is to produce the largest number of puppies as quickly as possible, without consideration of genetic quality or the care of the animals. As a result of the breeding practices of puppy mills, and the crowded, unsanitary conditions in which puppies born in mills live during the first weeks of their lives, it is common for puppy mill dogs to have each be at risk to numerous genetic and hereditary conditions and deadly diseases. Additionally, many puppy mill dogs experience behavioral and psychological problems throughout their lives from lack of early socialization and being weaned too young.

Why is purchasing animals from pet stores a problem?

Sadly, the vast majority of pet stores source their puppy “inventory” from puppy mills. Pet stores routinely advertise their puppies as coming from “USDA-licensed” breeders as a means to assure unsuspecting consumers that they are not being a puppy from a puppy mill. Unfortunately, most consumers do not realize that a USDA-license just means that a breeder is providing the bare minimum of care to keep its dogs alive. A breeder can be USDA-licensed even with hundreds of dogs confined to tiny cages for years, without any human contact or proper veterinary care. Moreover, a USDA-license does not assure that a puppy was bred properly or kept in sanitary conditions, leaving many consumers having paid thousands of dollars for a puppy with serious health problems.

What is ALDF doing to stop puppy mills?


ALDF is working across the country to combat puppy mills from multiple legal channels. ALDF has lawsuits filed in California and Illinois against chains of pet stores – Barkworks and Furry Babies, respectively – for misrepresenting to consumers the health and origin of puppies sold at its stores. Additionally, ALDF filed a case against the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, for regulations that allow breeders to confine nursing mothers and puppies all day in cages. On the criminal side, ALDF recently assisted in the prosecution of a breeder in Oregon who was found guilty of 43 counts of felony animal neglect. Finally, ALDF has been fighting the passage of a “right to farm” constitutional amendment which could make “agricultural” practices, including puppy breeding, a “constitutional right.”

What can I do to help?

First, commit to only adopting puppies or dogs from your local animal shelter or rescue group and encourage others to do the same. If you do decide to purchase from a breeder, be sure to purchase only one who wants to me you in person and is willing and able to show you exactly where your puppy and its parents were raised and homed. Finally, since 2011 more than 75 cities have passed local legislation banning the retail sales of cats and dogs. If your city has not yet passed such a ban, contact your local legislature about how to support such a measure.


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