What is a Puppy Mill?

A Puppy Mill is a large-scale, commercial breeding facility whose sole purpose is to maximize its profits by producing and selling as many puppies as possible. These outfits
keep dogs in inhumane conditions which are overcrowded, unhealthy, and cruel. Dogs
are bred indiscriminately, with an emphasis on quantity over quality.

The dogs are subjected to lives of continuous confinement causing chronic anxiety, so-
cial isolation, and elevated levels of fears and phobias. If the breeding dogs or pups get
too sick to breed or sell, they are either killed or left to die.
Almost all puppies from mills have parasites (fleas, mange, worms, ticks, giardia) and/or
other serious health concerns such as parvovirus, ear infections, skin disorders, urinary
tract infections, pneumonia and congenital defects (cardiac and orthopaedic problems
etc). Forced to live in filth without sufficient clean food or water, or access to veterinary
care, diseases spread rapidly amongst the overcrowded population.

  *  Puppy Mills exist in every province including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and

     Ontario   It is estimated that there are 1200 - 2000 puppy mills in Quebec alone,                with approximately 400,000 puppies born in these Quebec mills annually.  They operate
     secretively and are often difficult for authorities to find.             
  *  Many puppies sold from mills are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club  
     (CKC) or the American Kennel Club (AKC); a registered puppy is NOT always the                  sign of a reputable breeder.

   * Female dogs are forced to breed continuously with no concern for their health. 
     Breeding dogs are usually killed when they are no longer producing puppies - at 
     around 5 - 6 years of age.       
  * Most Puppy Mill breeder dogs live their entire lives in wire cages, often without heat
     in winter or cooling in summer.

  * In many cases the cages are stacked one upon another so their urine and feces fall
     onto dogs in the cages below.

  * Many cannot walk normally or stand upright as they have been confined to a small              space their entire lives.

  * Often their water is dirty and/or frozen and their food is stale or soiled.  Many don’t
     get enough to eat and are dangerously underweight.

  * They frequently suffer from injuries and never get veterinary care.  Diseases go
      untreated and they are forced to endure severe dental decay, infections, and                       illnesses without pain medication or proper medical care.  Ever.   

  *  There is no health screening done on these dogs so illnesses are bred into their                   puppies.

       i.e.   allergies
              blood disorders
              orthopaedic problems - hip dysplasia, luxating patella
              cardiac disease
              umbilical hernias
              liver disease
              endocrine disorders
              neurological disorders

Since Puppy Mill breeding dogs are caged their entire lives, they are deprived of vital,
early socialization and never experience the important stimuli of the outside world.  As a
result they develop many severe behavioural problems.  Some of the most common are:

Compulsive Behaviours
* pacing, walking in circles, spinning
*  licking, snapping at air
*  tail or shadow chasing
*  self mutilation

Fears and Phobias
*  sensitivity to touch
*  fear of humans, dogs, sounds, quick movements
*  hyper vigilance
*  fear aggression

Impaired Cognitive Abilities
*  inability to focus
*  difficulty learning
*  show no emotion - appear 'shut down' or 'flat'
*  stare intently at nothing
*  appear confused

Many dogs suffer from this severe psychological scarring for years, and sometimes
throughout their entire lives.
Backyard Breeders 
are the leading cause of   
dogs ending up in rescue.

* There are many Backyard Breeders in Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick

*Some Backyard Breeders are similar to Puppy Mills in that they produce puppies in overcrowded and unhealthy living conditions.  Others may keep their dogs in the family home.  Often they add the term ‘Farms’ or ‘Kennels’ to their name, just as Puppy Mills do. It is common for BYB's to have "accidental" litters because they have not spayed or neutered their dog(s).  As a result, their pet is susceptible to life threatening conditions like testicular and mammary tumors and the often fatal uterine infection Pyometra.

*These breeders are not knowledgeable about possible health or temperament issues that may surface as the puppies age, and these problems can be both serious and costly.

*Often these BYBs don’t consider where the puppies will be placed or even if there is a demand for them.

*Their motivations for breeding may vary.  They can make ‘easy money’.  They mistakenly think a dog should have at least one litter.  Or they love their family pet and think others would like to have a puppy from their dog. 

  Puppy Mill and Backyard Breeder puppies are sold:

• on websites like Kijiji

• through classified ads in newspapers, dog magazines or other personal ads

• in pet stores

• at flea markets

• at roadside stands or properties with signs saying “Puppies For Sale”

• from the backs of vehicles

• at public events

No reputable breeder will sell a dog or puppy in this way!

* Usually take payment in cash or PayPal only.  No cheques or credit cards.

*  Multiple litters are available at the same time, as well as multiple breeds

*  Seller has many mixed or cross breeds: i.e.






   Doodles (LabraDoodles, GoldenDoodles)

   Schnoodles etc.

*  Puppies are available too young - less than 8 weeks of age

*  Unable to view where the puppies live or meet the parent dogs

*  Seller offers to deliver the puppies to a remote location such as a parking lot, or deliver them to your home.

*  Puppies may be sold via a ‘broker’ - a ‘middleman’ who buys the puppies directly from the breeder at a low cost, then marks up the price and resells to potential owners and pet stores.  In Nova Scotia, we have a famous example.

*  Seller asks few or no questions of you as the buyer (a legitimate breeder will

have a screening process for potential new owners)

*  There is no contract  to sign and no expectations that you will provide suitable care of the puppy.

*  No 'Certificate of Health' signed by a licensed veterinarian is provided.  It is the law in  Nova Scotia that all animals sold in the province have this certificate.  It is valid for 6 months.  

Please DO NOT purchase a puppy from these sources.  Rescue organizations are filled with loving dogs and puppies looking for homes.  Many are ‘purebred’.  

Or, you can choose a reputable and knowledgeable breeder who produces healthy puppies and offers ongoing support. Backyard Breeders will not be there for you or your  dog in the likelihood that problems arise.

If you want more information, No Puppy Mills Canada is  excellent resource.

If you are considering adding a puppy or dog to your family, here is a great site that helps you to distinguish between a Reputable breeder and a Backyard Breeder.  There is also this checklist to help you when purchasing a puppy.

And finally a tribute to our inspiring partner, "Harley's Dream" to end Puppy Mills.

Please take a moment to read the moving story of how this little dog survived the horrors of a Mill and became the heroic face of hope for the hundreds of thousands of unfortunate dogs still living in the torment of Puppy Mills.



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