About Puppy Mills

Puppy Mill Statistics

  • An estimated 167,388 breeding dogs are currently living in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed commercial facilities for breeding purposes this very moment.*
  • There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States (this includes both licensed and unlicensed facilities).
  • Over 2 million puppies bred in mills each year.
  • An estimated 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters every year.
  • Thousands of commercially-bred puppies are shipped into Illinois and sold from Illinois pet stores each year.

* These statistics are sourced from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) 2014 Puppy Mill Facts and Figures report (available here) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Pet Statistics (link here).

What is so wrong with puppy mills?**

  • Puppy mills are dog breeding operations that put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs.
  • Puppy mills may be large or small. They may be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or unlicensed. In order to sell to a pet store, the breeder must be licensed, though many still sell to pet stores without a proper license.
  • Puppy mills can house hundreds or thousands of dogs. Smaller does not necessarily mean better. The conditions in small facilities can be just as cruel as larger ones.
  • Puppy mills are everywhere, though there is a large concentration in the Midwest. Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the United States. Amish and Mennonite communities (particularly in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania) also have large concentrations of puppy mills.
  • Puppy mills breed all types of dogs – everything from Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, and English Bulldogs to teacup Yorkies – you can find nearly every breed.
  • Breeding parents spend their lives in 24-hour confinement to cages. It is common to see wire cages stacked on top of each other. They generally do not have protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather.
  • Dogs in puppy mills live in dirty, unsanitary conditions.
  • Dogs living in puppy mills receive little to no veterinary care (and puppy mill owners often provide veterinary care without anesthesia or veterinary training).
  • Mothers are bred every heat cycle and are usually killed when they can no longer produce.
  • Many puppy mills do not practice humane euthanasia. Dogs are killed in cruel ways, including shooting or drowning.
  • Puppies are taken from their mothers too young and can develop serious health or behavioral issues due to the conditions in which they are bred and shipped. This leads to expensive veterinary bills, heartbreak, and stress for their owners.
  • The bottom line is that puppy mills are all about profits. Any money spent on veterinary care, quality food, shelter, or staff to care for the dogs cuts into the profit margin.

Where are puppy mill puppies sold?

  • There are two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in puppy mills: (1) pet stores, and (2) the Internet.
  • Nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for puppy mills and are essential for keeping puppy mills in business.
  • Both licensed and unlicensed mills sell to pet stores (many mills sell to pet stores without the required license and are not held accountable).
  • Puppies are bred in mills and then shipped all over the country. For example, puppies bred in the Midwest may be shipped on trucks to southern California or Florida.
  • The shipping conditions are inhumane. They can be forced to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and they are confined in a small space where diseases can be easily transmitted. Many puppies do not survive.

** The information on this page and our Puppy Mill FAQs has been compiled based on first-hand experience with the rescue and rehabilitation of dogs from puppy mills, years of researching USDA inspection reports and regulations, investigation of pet stores and the source of their dogs, and resources provided by national organizations with significant expertise on the puppy mill industry, including the HSUS, the ASPCA, and Best Friends Animal Society.