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Often times Rescue will have a "puppy-mill" dog up for adoption.  

OK....So just what is a Puppy Mill?

Puppy Mills are places that mass produce (breed) puppies for the sole purpose of selling them to pet stores all over the country.  Often, these mills will have 20-40 different breeds of dogs, and often 40-50 of each breed.    Some of the bigger mills will house 1500+ dogs.     Conditions are horrible and would shock you.   Mills will breed each female every time she comes into season.   Puppies and parents are never held, never played with and are seldom given proper vet care.   Puppies are taken from their Mom's at a very early age, all so they can be sitting in the pet shop looking adorable when they turn 8 weeks old.    Quite often birthdates are forged, so the puppies are younger looking and more appealing to the puppy buyer.    As long as the general public keeps buying puppies from pet stores, the mills will continue to produce puppies.  


ALL puppies purchased from a Pet Store,  or a retail business, come from a puppy mill.  Period.  The pet store certainly isn't going to tell you they buy from puppy mills, (and often times the staff is even lied to as to where the puppies come from)     The truth is NO responsible breeder would ever sell puppies through a pet shop.   A Pet Store is the WORST possible place to buy a puppy from.  Please help spread the word, and put the mills out of business.  Breeding puppies should only be done by knowledgeable, caring people who have the time to devote to each individual puppy.    


Many times "rescue" will take in a dog that comes from a puppy mill.   We may buy them at an auction if we learn of horrible abuse, we may get them from an owner who bought one at a pet store....or sometimes the puppy-mill operator will surrender the dog to "Rescue" rather than "dispose" of it. (sometimes happens)  But no matter how we got them, the story is same.  These are not normal dogs, and they do require work to socialize them and teach them how to be a pet.  All the things we take for granted in most dogs, are not true for these dogs.  


Yes... there is a Momma and babies in this pile of garbage.


Before you picture a nice, clean "kennel"......take a look at a few of these puppy mills.  This is the reality.   If you bought your dog at a pet store.... this is likely where it was born, and where it's mother probably still lives.


Puppy Mills are hard to get pictures of because most mill owners will not allow visitors OR camera's on the property.  But here is another mill that was photographed.  This could be home to as many as 800 dogs.


These places are run by people intent on making a living to support their family......This is their livelihood, so they do take it very seriously.   Because of how some "animal rights" folks behave, most mills allow NO VISITORS.   Many of the bigger operations have (armed) guards guarding the property.

Missouri is the state with the most puppy mills...........followed closely by Pennsylvania, Iowa, Arkansas and many southern states.    Why is this allowed you may ask?     Many have researched this question and found shocking facts surrounding the legislation that governs this industry.   I will not express my opinion on this media, however I would strongly encourage you to do the research and come to your own conclusions.   Each state has different laws regarding "breeding" of domestic animals.  Check your state.

Here is one instance where a mill was shut down by authorities.  Watch this video.

These dogs can be so sweet and adorable looking,  that people adopt these dogs without fully understanding just *what*  they are in for.  This page tries to explain to you exactly what you have in store for you when adopting a puppy mill dog.  The rehab process is exhausting and can be frustrating.   It CAN be done, but you will need lots of love, patience and time.

These dogs are breeding stock.  That's it.  They have not been loved and have not known love.   This is the biggest difference between a normal pet and these dogs. 

In the mill, they are not cared for, other than to feed.  They are not held, they are not petted, they are not played with, they are not comforted when they are afraid, they get nothing more than 4 wire walls and food.   The only goal for a puppy mill operator is to make money from puppies.  Therefore, the emotional well being of the breeding stock is not considered. Mill breeding dogs never leave their wire cage.  Never.  So just imagine the fear when leaving the only 4 walls they have ever known.  They are terrified!!   Why would they leave....you ask?   Many don't.   BUT..... If a dog cannot or does not produce good sized litters, or maybe does not produce the best color puppies......OR maybe the mill is going out of business.....whatever the reason....when the dog is no longer "needed", the dogs are "disposed of"....... (shot or drowned usually)  BUT sometimes,  just sometimes.......IF they are lucky, they get in to Rescue.  

When Rescue gets one of these dogs, we have many issues to overcome.   First and foremost, we must test temperament.   Dogs that are THIS terrified and will generally fall into one of two category's.  

  • 1) They just emotionally shut down from fear.   They will go stiff-legged from fear, and can most
        often be handled.    OR

  • 2) They are so scared they will bite when handled.  

Sadly, due to obvious risks, we no longer will try and rehab dogs that will bite.  

So....When you adopt a "mill dog"  just what can you expect?    Here are just a few things:

  • They are NOT excited to see you.   They are not used to being around people.   Your "touch" is terrifying.  Some will shake violently from fear.  Others will defecate from fear.

  • They have never been outdoors, seen sunshine,  seen an airplane, or seen a car or truck drive by.

  • They have never been in a house, heard a television set, radio or a phone ring.

  • They have never stood on grass or carpeting.   (and it is usually frightening to them at first) 

  • They have never ridden in a car. 

  • Large, open spaces scare them.  They will try and seek refuge in small dark places.   You may have to forcefully pull them out of their crate.

  • They only time they may have been handled by a person is to:  tattoo their ear, shave them down, or "pressure hose" them once a year.   (the law in some states requires these things)

  • They have never walked on a leash.   (many have never had a collar on)

  • They have never seen nor learned how to climb stairs.  

  • They have no idea what "treats" are.   (a very useful thing when training)

  • They have no idea how to drink from a bowl.

  • Most of these dogs have splayed toes from standing on wire for years. 

  • Most are out of shape and fat from no exercise. 

  • They will NOT come when you call them.   In fact they will do all they can to get away from you. That is why a fenced yard is so important for these dogs.   Here in rescue, we must often keep the dog on a leash IN the fenced yard, so that we may catch the dog when it is time to come back in the house.   A mill dog loose in a fenced yard can be impossible to "catch".

  • They do not know their name   (Most are only known by a number tattooed in their ear)  

  • And IF the dog has been traded or auctioned to a different mill, often the ear tip is just "cut off" to remove the tattoo from the former mill, and a new tattoo is placed in the other ear.

  • Oh....and NO, they are not housetrained.

Fortunately, most dogs are friendly by nature and want attention.   So these dogs DO respond well to kindness and love.  .......   it just takes a lot of time and patience to gain their trust and teach them how to be a house pet.    We DO begin training as soon as we get the dog in.  However, this rehab process can take about a year to complete.    These dogs will turn around, and they eventually do become more normal.  But it takes a lot of time and patience.  


If you have adopted a mill dog, and successfully rehabbed him or her, and would be willing to be a "Mentor" via-e-mail to someone just starting out, please e-mail us and let us know.  We will put you in contact with your "Mentee" and hopefully you can help someone else rehab a dog in need. 

E-mail us here.

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