Beware of Puppy Mills & “Fake” in-home breeders

Identifying a puppy mill can be difficult. The following points outline how to identify a puppy mill and how to avoid purchasing a puppy form one. Why? Most puppies that come from mills are unhealthy shortly after you pick up your pup. The parents are confined to small spaces, their health is severely neglected, they are never rested in between heat cycles & inbreeding is common, leading to more genetic health issues

Here is a scam that is on the rise: If there is a disproportionate number of puppies to whelping mothers – huge red flag! larger breeds usually whelp between 8-12 puppies and smaller breeds usually between 2-7 puppies/litter. The scam occurs when, in addition to breeding some of their own mama’s on-site, unethical and greedy breeders are also getting more of “their” puppies from puppy mills and then selling them to you under false pretenses. This is not illegal, however, it’s dishonest and unethical. More and more breeders who claim to be “in-home breeders” are doing this as the awareness around puppy mills increases nation wide. They buy these puppies from the puppy mills for around $500-$600 and sell them to you for $3,000. 

An organization listed as a rescue is selling puppies in large numbers or always seems to have them available.

A breeder refuses to divulge the name of his or her veterinarian. (If you are given this information, we’re not suggesting you call and interrogate the vet. At least look up the vet’s name and location to ensure it’s legitimate and the vet is still in practice.)

Advertisements are constantly in the newspaper classifieds, on fliers passed out in public places or listed on the internet to buy puppies from the same person or organization.

A person holds a sign on the side of the road or camps out near a busy roadway trying to sell puppies.

***The same person always has puppies available or advertises them at every occasion as gifts. BIG RED FLAG unless the breeder is new and just starting a waiting list

A breeder offers multiple different breeds for sale or “rare” or “new” breeds. Breeding should not be an experiment.

The seller wants to meet you in a public place to complete the sale.

The person does not ask you any questions other than money and pickup arrangements. Any legitimate breeder should care who his or her puppies end up with and ensure they are going to suitable homes.

The person sells puppies at everyday events, such as garage sales or flea markets.

You are not allowed to meet the breeding parents or view the home, whelping are or business facility. The more transparent, the better. If the breeder seems hesitant or unwilling to show you these areas or the parents of the litter, also a big red flag unless there is a new litter of puppies and, due to the risk of exposure to illness, the mother and puppies can not be introduced

A person claims he or she is selling the puppies as an “agent” for a breeder.

Puppies are offered in opposite-sex pairs to encourage breeding.

The breeder claims spaying or neutering is not required or unnecessary.

The puppies are offered for sale and delivery before they reach 8 weeks old.

Site Inspections

If the breeder is willing to let you visit his home or breeding facility, this is an important step to ensure your puppy comes from a happy and safe environment. Don’t assume the offer is reason enough not to accept the invitation. Obviously if s/he’s offering, he s/has nothing to hide, right? Wrong.

Look for these warning signs when visiting the location:

If there is a disproportionate number of puppies to whelping mothers – huge red flag! In addition to breeding some of their own puppies on-site, some unethical and greedy breeders get some/many of their puppies from puppy mills and sell them under false pretenses. This is not illegal, however, it’s dishonest and unethical. More and more breeders who claim to be “in-home breeders” are doing this as the awareness around puppy mills increases nation wide. They buy them from the mills for around $500-$600 and sell them to you for $3,000.

There is a recognizable or overwhelming odor that is foul or unpleasant. Beware of an overuse of deodorizers or bleach as this may have been used to cover up an odor, which is usually a sign of a more serious problem.

The appearance and health of the animals can reveal the level of care they are given. Look for dirty or long coats, missing teeth, eye or nose discharge, overgrown nails, visible injuries or sores, patches of missing fur or excessive scratching.

Temperament is an important insight as well. Are any of the animals aggressive, vicious, excessively shy or fearful?

If the cages or containment areas for the animals look more like a parking garage than comfortable accommodations, this is another concern. Animals should have enough room to turn around, stand on their hind legs and have a clean sleeping area away from food and water.

Animals are contained in an area with urine or feces (or both).

The animals are not properly protected from the weather. Outdoor facilities should be climate controlled in areas with extreme heat or cold, and adequate shelter for all animals should be available. Look for small structures in disrepair or animals chained to fences, trees or stakes.

No food or water is visibly available to every animal, or the water is dirty. It takes so little time to clean a bowl and provide fresh water, and this is a blatant sign of neglect that should have sirens going off as soon as you see it.

Animals are either too skinny or overweight. A healthy weight is a good sign of nutrition and exercise. Underweight puppies are not getting enough food or may be sick, while overweight puppies may be either fed too much or not allowed to exercise.

The numbers don’t add up. If there is only one or two people at the location but dozens of dogs, it would seem impossible to think each dog gets proper care, exercise and socialization. Unless they work in shifts or have a system for individualized care, ask them to explain their process or check for other signs listed here.

The breeding parents are not available or kept offsite. So basically their site is where the puppies get dropped off every time the parents breed, and this can also be a sign that the parents are kept in horrible conditions or are being forced to breed with every heat cycle.

There is only one female breeding. Forcing one dog to constantly breed at every heat cycle is cruel and can cause health concerns. The dogs are also more likely to be destroyed once they are no longer able to produce litters.

The breeder has no idea how many litters the female has produced. This is scary: The dog was bred so many times or records were never kept of the offspring.

All of the animals appear to be sleeping or lethargic. This can be a sign of very poor health, or the animals may have been medicated to cover up a more serious problem.

This information and more can be found at Petful.com