I have a confession. I didn’t know what a puppy mill was until about two years ago. I knew that dogs and other animals were sometimes mistreated, but I didn’t know to what extent they are sometimes abused for a human to make a few bucks. I learned the sad truth about puppy mills shortly after adopting Luna and starting Beagles & Bargains.

I think part of the reason that I didn’t know what a puppy mill was is because a large portion of the general public doesn’t. Puppies are pure, good, and super cute, so nothing could possibly be horrible about a bunch of puppies, right? WRONG.

When I was 21, I adopted Luna from a rescue. At that time, I viewed the pet world as having two different aspects: rescue and breeding. I considered breeding to be more or less getting a custom designer dog. You do the research and figure out what breed you want, then you pay a lot of money to get the puppy of your dreams. I thought rescue gave unwanted dogs a second chance and saved lives, but it was kind of a shot in the dark since a rescued dog came with no guarantees. I also thought rescue was a cheaper upfront option. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with dog breeding, but I wanted to feel good about rescuing a dog, so I did.

Was I wrong? Yes and no. Going to a responsible dog breeder does give you the opportunity to find a dog with a certain temperament, look, etc. that might best fit your lifestyle. A responsible breeder will also have specific experience and interest in their breed. Rescuing does save lives and can give dogs a second chance. I don’t regret my decision to rescue Luna one bit.

But there is a third option. An option that too many of us confuse with a responsible breeder. An option that doesn’t care about the welfare of the dogs they create or what happens to them after you send in the payment. This third option is known as a puppy mill.

So how can you tell the difference?

5 Red Flags of a Puppy Mill

Depositphotos | @cristi180884

5 Red Flags of a Puppy Mill

1. You aren’t allowed to see where the puppies are kept. If you can’t get a view of where the puppies came from, then how can you know if something is wrong?

2. You aren’t allowed to meet the puppy’s parents. Far too often, “Mama” dogs in puppy mills are in horrible shape and are forced to produce puppies constantly. See your soon to be puppies parents can give you some indication of health later in life.

3. You do the entire transaction online. A responsible breeder will want to meet you and ensure that you will provide one of their puppies a quality home. They will want to ask you questions and make sure YOU are good enough.

4. The “breeder” isn’t knowledgeable about the breed. Someone who doesn’t know about the breed of puppies they are selling will have no insight into properly breeding a healthy dog.

5. You don’t have a plan to follow up or stay in contact after purchase. A responsible breeder will want to know how things are going and how one of their puppies is adjusting in their new home.

These five aren’t by any means the only red flags. If something spooks you and makes you feel uncomfortable, then I would walk away.

How can you stop Puppy Mills?

It’s pretty simple. Don’t buy a puppy from a puppy mill. Don’t purchase a puppy directly from a pet store because many purchase their puppies from puppy mills. Consider pet adoption and do your research about the breeder before taking home a new dog.

Spread the word. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Remind anyone and everyone who tells you they are thinking of getting a new puppy of the red flags of puppy mills.

For more information on puppy mills and how you can help stop them, visit The Puppy Mill Project.

The Puppy Mill Project

Will you help spread the message about Puppy Mills?

I am participating in the Puppy Mill Action Week Blog Hop to help spread the word about and stop Puppy Mills. This hop is hosted by Dolly the Doxie and Fidose of Reality.

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman is a bargain hunter, food lover, and software engineer figuring out how to be a pet parent for the first time. Jessica has been a long time lover of all animals (especially llamas and manatees) and is happy that she can finally combine that love with technology.
Jessica Shipman

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  • Oz theTerrier

    It is so sad that puppy mills are still around. There is a pet store right near my house that we will NOT shop at because they sell puppies there. They keep them in plexiglass cages and claim they are from responsible breeders. Yeah, right! But most people think the pups are from “breeders” because the store “tells them so” and thus they buy their puppies there. I wish I knew how to get that store to STOP selling puppies.

    • beaglesbargains

      We have a store that is doing the same thing. Some of my friends know the I love dogs (obviously) and send me pictures of them at the store. I feel like I have to be the bad guy and tell them why they should stop shopping there.

  • It’s heartbreaking that puppy mills still exist. I received an email yesterday from a woman who bought a puppy on Craigslist – after a lot of illnesses, the poor dog passed and she’s heartbroken. My heart breaks for her.

    Posts like this also helped me when we were looking for Scout and Zoey. We came across a lot of questionable breeders. 1 would only let us see the mother. The other wanted to meet us in a parking lot.

    • beaglesbargains

      It bothers me so much that Craigslist allows the sale of animals. They rarely, if ever, intervene, so I just don’t get how the welfare of a living thing can be put at risk on their website. Thanks for sharing your personal story too! I’m glad that posts like this helped. I hope we can all spread the word and educate more people on choosing responsible breeders.

  • Kate Obrien

    Glad to see the Hop creating more awareness of puppy mills existence and that they aren’t sweet, happy ”puppy farms”. The public needs to learn about this because it’s only with their help can they be stopped.

  • Jessica, this is a powerful post. I wish we could get the realization in front of more people, more effectively. It’s so cruel to even think about the mistreatment of our beloved dogs in a puppy mill. Thank you for the 5 red flags. Perfect content!

    • beaglesbargains

      Thank you so much for saying that Yvonne. It means a lot. Sometimes its hard not to be upset with people who buy from puppy mills or pet stores, but a lot of it is the lack of education on the topic. We need to talk about. We need to keep sharing our stories.

  • These are great points for everyone to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing these red flags!

  • Cathy C Bennett

    That first one should have been a sign for me! But like you, I didn’t know what a puppy mill really was. I don’t regret it – because I wouldn’t have been blessed with Harley! But we ALL must do our part in exposing Puppy Mills and educating the world. Thanks for this post.

  • LittleMonsterx14

    My mom got our dog from a store. I tried to tell her that they dogs were mistreated and she just said “oh he looks so healthy, he’s fine!” she didn’t get it. She didn’t want to rescue a dog because she thought THEY were more messed up than puppy mill dogs. Finally years after we got Gizmo, she asked me if we don’t rescue and don’t get the dog from a store, what other options do we have? A told her a reputable breeder. Hopefully with our next dog she will make a better decision.

  • Bryn Nowell

    Well written and very important! Thank you so much for sharing your insight. Give Luna a smooch for us!

  • Nick Bandura
  • miskaffon

    I agree with this idea except for the idea of “tours”. The Animal Rights Extremist will do anything to get an address and absolutely decimate ANY breeder they can locate, as ALL “breeders are bad”. PETA and other extreme groups have an end goal of making all human contact with animals illegal. The evidence for that us everywhere in news stories and advertised without restraint by these groups.

  • miskaffon

    Better than that would be to bring the parent dogs to the meeting at a veterinary office; have a puppy health check on site with both parties present. Vet vouching for the breeder. Better solution? I agree true mills are horrible; indeed my parents adopted a former mill dog by way of a humane society, it was pretty sad.