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A puppy mill is a dog breeding operation that places profit above the health and welfare of its dogs.

How puppy mills work

The people who run puppy mills turn out as many dogs as possible, just like an assembly line. Puppy mills have also been referred to as “backyard breeding”. These operations are smaller, but the owners often commit serious neglect.

Puppy mill operators breed their females soon after each litter is born. Every time the female goes into heat, the operator sees it as an opportunity to increase profits. These back-to-back pregnancies eventually leave the mother exhausted, malnourished, and prone to illness. After all of this, her puppies are taken away before they can be weaned to get them quickly into the hands of owners.

Bad breeders

In a puppy mill, no consideration is paid to how a female is bred. At times, this leads to genetic defects. Puppy mill operators will often sell their dogs as purebred to get a higher price. This designation means very little, though, due to the careless breeding that takes place behind closed doors.

Puppies that are bred in puppy mills often suffer from health and socialization problems. Depending on how long a dog lives in a puppy mill, he could end up with aggressive tendencies toward other dogs and mistrust of humans. The majority of puppies that leave the horror of a puppy mill are sold to pet stores by a broker or dealer; some brokers conduct business under the guise of a licenced breeder.

Puppy mills are notorious for limiting a dogʼs space. Most are confined to small cages, where they are forced to live out their lives in isolation. Having never seen the light of day, some dogs even become blind from being in a puppy mill all their lives.

A Canadian problem

Before 1995, many puppies were imported from the U.S. Due to legislation that followed later that year, puppies needed to be micro-chipped, vaccinated, and health-checked by a veterinarian before crossing into Canada. These stringent rules increased demand, and puppy mills in Canada quickly expanded to meet the need.

The Animal Care Act in Manitoba has the ability to imprison or fine those who are guilty of treating animals in an inhumane manner. Responsible breeders see that the needs of their dogs and puppies are properly met with suitable meals, shelter, attention, and socialization.


Take action

If you see evidence of harm or neglect to animals involved, inform a local agency such as The Winnipeg Humane Society or the Animal Care Line of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

If you are thinking about buying a puppy and are concerned about where it comes from, here are a few things to consider:

  • Adopt, donʼt shop
  • Donʼt buy puppies over the Internet
  • Pick a responsible breeder and visit their operation
  • Ask to see the breederʼs licence before buying a puppy
  • Ask to see where the puppy lives
  • Reputable breeders will guarantee a puppy if she becomes unhealthy; some may even take her back if for some reason she cannot be kept
  • Donʼt fall prey to sales pressure tactics while in a pet store