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Puppy Mills

Did you know that 99% of all pet store puppies come from unsocialized, unloved breeding dogs who are kept in small wire cages their whole lives? We refer to these places a puppy mills. Puppies from these places are never a good deal.

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What is a Puppy Mill?


A puppy mill is a place that breeds dogs for profit only, without a care for the offspring’s health, temperament, or behavior. Puppy mill puppies are almost always poor in health and can often have unstable temperaments. It is not unheard of for puppies to be sold as purebred dogs, even though they are really mixed breeds that resemble the pure breed.

Good-intentioned people who buy from pet stores, puppy mill websites, or even local backyard breeders (people who breed as a hobby or an “oops” but do not actually know their breed inside and out, nor do they test for health and temperament before breeding) often face serious veterinary bills associated with genetic issues that arise as these puppies grow. Sometimes the puppies turn into fine dogs, but often they experience issues that sometimes last a lifetime.

Where are Puppy Mills?

The entire Midwest is considered “puppy mill country.” This includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Puppy mills are everywhere, especially in areas where people have big, loosely regulated farms (the Pennsylvania Amish in the Lancaster area are a good example). Most importantly, puppy mills are prolific online. There are many websites that lead you to believe you are getting a puppy from a very happy place, when the truth is that the breeding dogs are living in small wire cages in a freezing cold (or scalding hot) barn out back. It is extremely important that you ask educated questions of any breeder you are evaluating before agreeing to purchase a dog (of course, we hope you’ll consider adoption first!).

Humane Society Video about Puppy Mill Auctions (video link)

MABTR and Mill Dogs

Every month MABTR receives the parents of these pet store puppies. The pictures above are of just a few of the many Bostons that have been released from puppy mills. We pride ourselves on giving these dogs a “second chance.”  These are adult dogs (from 2-9 years old) who are no longer needed and slated to be euthanized. The condition of these dogs when they arrive is usually horrific. The kind of treatment companion animals receive in puppy mills is cruel, intolerable, and inhumane. MABTR puts forth a lot of money, time, and patience to help these dogs recover, so they can move onto a better life.  We will never turn down a dog being released from a puppy mill.

These dogs make great companions with time and patience. Learn more on what you need to know and do to have a successful new friend by reading this article.

Pet Shops Lie

When pet stores tell their customers that the puppies come from “loving homes and reputable breeders,” they are lying. The store clerk may not even know it, but it is a well-known fact that pet shop puppies – 99.9% of the time – come from puppy mills. Don’t believe the lies! Make a good choice and adopt or buy a dog from a breeder you are confident is reputable.

HSUS Petland Investigation (Human Society link)

Help Us Create Change

The livelihood of puppy mills totally depends on two things happening. First, the public must take a stand. People must stop purchasing puppies from pet shops, puppy mill websites (disguised as happy puppy play-places, of course), and backyard breeders. To make sure the message is clear, people must also stop shopping at stores that sell puppies and kittens.

Second, the American Kennel Club (AKC) must stop issuing registration certificates for the puppies born in puppy mills.

If there is any compassion at all for the animals bred and raised under these miserable conditions, we need to stop buying puppies from pet stores and instead adopt from local humane societies/shelters or rescue groups. Each puppy purchased from a pet store, a backyard breeder, or via the Internet serves an industry with no conscience. The pet stores and puppy mills are feeding off of our demand. SAVE A LIFE. ADOPT A HOMELESS PET.

How Else Can I Get a Puppy?

If you are looking for a puppy, do not discount your local shelters and rescue groups. Plus, there are many reputable breeders out there. 

The Benefits of Adoption

Click here to read a mill survivor’s story.
Click here for a Guide on preparing for a puppy mill survivor and providing advice

The benefits of adopting a dog are numerous. Many people worry that adopted dogs come with “baggage,” that they won’t bond, or that there must be something wrong with them because they were “discarded.” These are all myths that prove themselves untrue with adoption after adoption. The truth is, most rescued dogs are grateful for what you give them, and if one of the things you give them is patience, you will find that sooner or later (depending on their intake condition), they will come around to being the best friends that you have ever had.


Doesn’t everyone have a little baggage? Nobody is perfect – not even puppies from reputable breeders. When you get a puppy, you don’t really know what they will be like as an adult. Though MABTR often has puppies available, we hope you’ll consider an adult. When you adopt an adult dog from MABTR, you can get a sense for who the dog is by talking with the foster family, thus giving you a better idea about whether this new dog will be a good fit for you in the long run.

Rescued dogs have not necessarily been discarded. Dogs come into rescue for many reasons. MABTR takes in a high number of puppy mill survivors – breeding dogs whose time has run out – in order to save their lives and give them a chance at love. Some of these dogs have special needs. Some are just fine. We also take in dogs who are surrendered by their families when new babies are born, people die, people move, or people can no longer keep their dogs for myriad other reasons. Some of these dogs are even already trained. Dogs come to us in many different ways for many different reasons, but we always do our best to make the best match possible between dog and adopter. That is one of the main benefits of adopting from rescue.

Did you know…

  • 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year.

  • 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized by the 4,000 to 6,000 shelters in the United States shelters each year.

  • A cat has an average of 3 litters/year producing 4-6 kittens on average per litter.

  • A dog has an average of 2 litters/year producing 6-10 puppies on average per litter.

  • In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs.

  • 10,000 children are born each day in the U.S. 70,000 kittens and puppies are born each day in the U.S. There are not enough homes for the animals that already exist.

  • Pet stores across the U.S. sell an estimated 500,000 puppies every year making puppy mill dogs the “inventory” of these retail operations.


“Animals give their love unconditionally. Isn’t it time we did the same?”

Thank you for opening your eyes to see what is really going on out there. We appreciate the fact that you are interested in learning more about the dog breeding industry. We hope that you will think about this information as you make a decision about your next pet and that you’ll think twice before purchasing a pet from a pet shop or backyard breeder.

Helpful Links

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