Beat Puppy Mills at Their Own Game

by Mary Haight on January 13, 2010

Amish Farm
Image by cindy47452 via Flickr

Looking to volunteer and make a real difference for animals? How about going undercover to beat puppy mills at their own game? Pose as someone looking for a reasonably priced adult dog–like a worn out breeding dog.  This saves the dog, but also provides evidence to get the business closed. (Now that may have put a little smile on your face!) 

 This “program design” got a little buried somewhere in my head (nearly time for Spring cleaning I guess).  I saw an article in the LA Times a couple of days ago and recalled Lisa Ling’s mention of this tactic in her documentary on Pennsylvania puppy mills.  It’s part of the work of the Main Line Shelter in Philadelphia, the focus of the newspaper story.

Pennsylvania is known as the puppy mill capital of the East Coast, but not for long.  Recent laws enacted by Governor Rendell are some of the toughest in the country:  no wire flooring in cages, no stacking of cages, cages must be double the size they were, cleanliness standards are now defined, ventilation is required to be up-to-date, and unfettered access to exercise must be provided.  Twice-yearly vet checks are also part of the law that went into effect in October.  And this has been imposed on large breeding operations, notable inasmuch as States often go after the easier target, small breeders, leaving the commercial dog farms alone. Maybe while we are working to close and make these places obsolete, the dogs will know what it’s like to have ground beneath their feet, and get some fresh air.

Not everyone can participate as a volunteer in helping with dogs from a puppy mill raid, nor is everyone available to protest in front of pet shops in an effort to educate the public.  But this is a job many people could take up once accepted,  partnering with shelters and rescues in states like Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Oklahoma on weekends, when most working people would go out and look for a dog.  Need a little more incentive?  Here’s something that’s not talked about much:  Factory breeders perform their own surgeries.  Caesarian section, debarking, tail docking, are all done without training or expertise. I’ll leave you to imagine the results.

The ASPCA have a list of things you can do to help, and I’ve pulled out a couple of my favorites:

1. Know who is a responsible breeder and what that means
2. Internet sales are not regulated by any agency—and yes, they are Mill dogs
3. Adopt from shelters; don’t buy from Pet Shops (visit the above link for the rest)

What I’d like to know is, do you have any experience with puppy mills or the dogs they produce?  Have you ever bought a dog over the internet, or know someone who did?  Share your story with us.

You can read the LA Times article here.

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Bloggie Stylish
Bloggie Stylish

a very interesting post! i'm happy about the new rules like no wire floored cages!! i've watched the animal cops shows enough on animal planet to know that is the hallmark of a puppy mill! the only true way to shut them down is to educate the public. if no one's buying the mill puppies, there will be no more puppy mills!


Thank you so much for this post! This is a very interesting tactic for identifying puppy mills. I live in Pennsylvania and was so happy to see these new laws passed. Dog are living, loving beings. When they are treated like a "product," it's a disgrace.


While I am always up for subterfuge (ask my wife), I still believe the best way to end puppy mills is through education and public relations. But my hopes are dim. If you can't get people to care enough about their own bodies (stop smoking, don't overeat) - well, you get where I am going. So going undercover, eh. Sounds like a useful arrow in the quiver to shut down these operations. Do you (or anyone else out there) know if puppy mills, once shut down, are easy to restart in a different location or state? Do they get put on a "do not let them mill" list?


I only wish I could do this . I live in Michigan and there are not a lot of mills here. I would also like to find out for sure which rescues are now telling their potential adopters that they have RESCUED the puppies from the mills. There are quite a few here. You can not rescue a puppy and especially a whole litter of them from any mill. All they are doing is making extra money off of these adoptions. And that is not right especially if they are a 501 C3 charity whatever you call it..Sorry It has escaped my mind right now.


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