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Adopt, don’t shop! The truth behind puppy mills


The one with the waggly tail? How much is that doggie in the window, I do hope that doggie’s for sale…

Who can resist an adorable puppy, kitten or even bunny for sale in your local pet store?  Their cute little faces, adorable yips, meows and the tails wagging frantically as if saying ‘pick me, pick me!’

Let’s learn a little bit about where these adorable babies come from and what happens to them.  

The truth is that we live in a world where places exist that contribute to perpetuating animal abuse. These places are called puppy mills. This is where dogs are mass produced so that the breeders can make as much profit from them as possible, with no regard to the health of the dogs. Puppy mills are USDA approved and the AKC makes a lot of money from them. 

Responsible breeders understand the importance of the parents’ health and careful genetic pairing to produce strong litters that will improve the breed. However, operators of puppy mills ignore quality in favor of quantity. Without the proper care at these mills, serious genetic flaws spread throughout the breeding pool unchecked.  More important though, is the abuse that happens at these facilities.
Overcrowding, disease, and inadequate access to even the most basic veterinary care are prevalent, leading to horrific neglect and malnutrition. Untreated medical conditions such as tumors, birthing complications, respiratory infections, flea infestations, heartworms, and digestive problems are all common side effects to the lack of care and the unsanitary environment.  

These dogs are stuck in these germ-filled warehouses with no access to exercise or grooming and are rarely socialized with humans. Many of them are forced to live on wire flooring that cuts into their paws and legs, leaving wounds to fester and get infected. Often the cages are stacked on top of each other to save space. When this happens, all of the waste from the higher cages falls on the dogs below, further leading to the spread of disease. On rare occasions when the cages are cleaned, the dogs are not moved out, the cages are not moved. They are cleaned with power washers with the dogs still in the cages, sometimes resulting in loss of one or both eyes.  Dogs clean out the bacteria in their mouth by lapping water.  They don’t have bowls in their tiny cages and are forced to use bottles, like the ones you would put in a rabbit or hamster cage.  Since the bacteria can’t be cleaned out this way, the dogs frequently get infections that get into their jaw bones, causing loss of teeth and bone. 

Many dogs spend their entire lives, from birth to death, crammed in these conditions, never once feeling sunshine on their face, feeling the grass beneath their feet, breathing fresh air or the loving touch of a human. The females are rarely given adequate recovery time between births. Once they are physically depleted to the point where they are unable to reproduce they are often killed and disposed of to make room for new females. The male dogs used for stud fare no better. Where do the puppies that come out of these mills end up? As quickly as five weeks after birth many are shipped off to pet stores while others are sold directly from the owner to buyers through the internet, newspaper ads, at swap meets, and at roadside auctions and flea markets.

Ways to stop Puppy Mills

When you buy from Pet Stores, you are helping these puppy mills stay in business! If we stop buying from them and adopt instead, the puppy mills will eventually go out of business when they have nowhere to sell the puppies and they’ll have no reason to breed the dogs.  If you know of an abusive puppy mill, you may be able to report it, but you may find it easier to advocate for stricter laws. 

Help make your local pet store puppy-friendly

The Puppy-Friendly Pet Stores initiative asks dog lovers everywhere to help their local pet stores implement puppy friendly policies by refusing to sell puppies and kittens in their store and supporting homeless pet adoptions instead. Stores that already do not sell puppies can sign up to show that they are taking a stand against puppy mills and to make official their policy of not selling puppies. Always refuse to buy pet supplies at stores that sell puppies.

Contact your Federal Legislators 

Let them know that you’re concerned about the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and want the puppy mill issue to be a priority for Congress. Ask them to press the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act a top priority, with strong fines and penalties for breeders who don’t follow the law.

Write letters to the editor

Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a great way to get the word out about puppy mills. Write your own version—a short, polite letter is most effective. 

Print and post flyers

Download and print flyers and bring them to local businesses or events to help potential new pet owners avoid puppy mills.


Pam Horton, who authorized the use of the following information, is a wonderful lady who is working to have all Puppy Mills shut down.  She has rescued many dogs over the years and I will let her tell you about her rescued Iggy’s.

LIL OLIVE: My Facebook page is named after Lil Olive, my first Puppy Mill Breeding dog. Olive came to me at 15 years old after having bred in a Puppy Mill for 12.5 years. Olive was rescued by the Humane Society during a government shutdown of Puppy Mills called ‘The Dirty Dozen”. The government shut down the 12 worst Mills and Olive’s was #2 on that list. It was 9 degrees the day of her rescue and all the dogs were housed outside in the elements. Olive was bald, only 1.5 teeth, so her tongue hung out, I called it a Supatongue. She was missing the front part of her lower jaw from bone rot, her back legs did not bend, had mammary tumors, broken tail, many scars, skin that tore, and she was horrifically scared. After learning about love, Olive became the most amazing, loving, happy girl who taught thousands and thousands about what Puppy Mills are. She was sassy, sweet, forgiving, and perfect. Olive met so many people and most cried meeting her. I told them it’s because they were “Olived”…she oozed forgiveness…she forgave what had happened to her and she gave that to everyone she met. Olive passed away in 2015 from a direct result of the damage her body received from the abuse and neglect she suffered in a Puppy Mill.

AGNES: Agnes was Olive’s first sissy and was a Puppy Mill Breeder as well. Agnes bred for 10 years, and her Puppy Mill owner was well known for doing his own C-Sections without anesthesia. She was extremely frightened of human contact and bit me in the neck every time I picked her up for 3 years. Agnes was missing the front part of her lower jaw from bone rot and had only 3 molars, so she had a magnificient Supatongue! Agnes had mammary tumors and one extremely long scar on her side. Agnes suffered for years with PTSD attacks that would cause her to scream for hours on end. Agnes learned that she was safe here but never got over her PTSD. BUT she became a happy girl and I called her my lil rocker chick and wild child. She was very well known for being a world champion poop eater lol. Agnes was also Agent Little Joe’s Smoking Hot Wife! Agnes passed away in 2021, from old age and a broken heart after losing her beloved sissy, Hazel

HAZEL: Hazel was a foster failure for me. I fostered her for a whopping 20 min before adopting her! LOL! Hazel was the most petrified girl. She was beautiful and she was the most gentle lil girl. I always called her my lil lamb. Hazel was extremely frightened of any ANY human contact, and she found her greatest relief with Agnes and Olive. She suffered from seizures, had mammary tumors, and she spent 9 years breeding in a Puppy Mill. Hazel’s biggest fear, other than humans, was weather. She came from a Kansas Mill and with her complete horrific reaction to weather, we can only assume she was housed outside in the elements. Hazel became completely bonded to her sissy, Agnes. They were inseparable and loved each other to a level I cannot describe. Hazel had two teeth and a fabulous Supatunge! Physically Hazel looked amazing, but emotionally was where she suffered most. Hazel did learn that she was safe and loved and she would snuggle with me and her eyes, that were once empty, turned into happy eyes. To be honest her eyes spoke to me, they were perfect. Hazel passed away as a direct result of the damage her body received while breeding in a Puppy Mill.

MILLIE: Millie came to me after I lost Olive. She healed my heart and helped me to breathe again! Millie bred in a Puppy Mill for 8 years. Millie was a tripod as her leg was severely injured in the Puppy Mill and she chicken winged it up and was never able to use it again. She had enormous amounts of bone loss from bone rot in her snout and jaw. ZERO teeth and a fabulous Supatongue!! None of these things stopped her from being a happy and sweet lil girl! I needed Millie much more than Millie needed me! She had been with the most amazing Foster Mommy, Suzy, before she came to me, and my heart break from losing Olive had taken over my heart. The moment I held Millie I felt myself breath again. She was my heart healer and she was perfect in every way! She was welcomed into the family and was a professional stacker!! She loved Agnes and Hazel and they became the happiest lil family of Italian Greyhounds. Millie was the leader of that pack! Millie passed away from a brain tumor that most likely came from horrible breeding, so she passed from the direct result of breeding in a Puppy Mill. Her Foster Mommy came out to be with her and me during her passing, so Millie had her 2 Mommy’s there with her to help her journey to be with her heavenly sissy, Olive.

BETTY: Betty Betty Betty…I was called about this girl needing a home…she was 17 years old and I said NO! My heart had been broken with the loss of Olive and then following quickly with Millie and I couldn’t bear another loss so soon. BUT a dream where both Olive and Millie said GO GET THIS GIRL, I drove off the Kansas to pick up a 17 year old VERY sickly lil Italian greyhound. Betty was beyond words with illness and medical issues. She should have been around 11 lbs…she was around 6 lbs when I got her. Betty had bred in a Puppy Mill for 13 years and never really had a loving home….so I was the one to not only mend the horrific wounds to her body but also the ones in her mind…and I had a very limited time! Betty had a fractured jaw, holes going from the roof of her mouth to her sinuses, mammary tumors, arthritis, practically completely blind, completely deaf, ZERO teeth and an incredible Supatongue! I spent the first 5 months helping her through necessary surgeries, subQ fluids every 4 hours, feeding her with a syringe and telling her she was worth it and to fight. AND fight she did! Betty healed not only physically but emotionally too and she became the most fabulous old lady curmudgeon! She slept on my chest for the 2 years she was with me so she could feel the vibrations of my humming songs to her. She loved her sissies and they loved her! She was at last a member of a family who loved her! Betty smelled EVERY flower she ever passed. Betty passed away in 2019 from old age.

ELEANOR: Eleanor was a young little gal, considering, she is 12 years old and is the cutest lil gal! Eleanor has no teeth and a remarkable Supatongue! She bred for 8 years in a Puppy Mill and has suffered physically and emotionally! She came with terrible tooth and bone rot, mammary tumors, and emotionally scarred. She came to my home and ran to Agnes and Hazel where she found her comfort and wanted nothing to do with me. She was a tiny girl, about the same size as Olive, and has no sight in one eye and the other was foggy. She and I needed to get to know each other so I held her a lot and talked to her gently. Once she became braver being with Agnes and Hazel, she became more confident wanting to get to know what I was all about. Eleanor now celebrates everything! Even going to potty! She dances around the back yard after peeing and then she bounces around the backyard just because she can! AND she is now trying to take the name of MOST AMAZING POOP EATER, from her sissy Agnes. She is EXTREMELY scared of loud noises but runs to me for comfort now. She is such a sweet lil Mamma with the most beautiful eyes.

LAVERNE: And along comes Laverne. After losing Hazel I knew that Agnes would be joining her sister in heaven soon and I wanted to make sure that Eleanor was never alone, so I went on the search for the perfect sissy for her, and BAM there was Laverne! Laverne is a spry lil gal. She has a lot of issues with bone rot in her mouth and jaw. There is a fracture in the front part of her lower jaw that cannot be fixed so we are extremely careful with food and toys…She has maybe 2 teeth with a fantabulous Supatongue!! She is the tiniest girl I have gotten at a whopping 6 lbs! She is VERY VERY VERY VERY scared and skiddish! She is very bonded to Eleanor and was able to be a sissy to Agnes before Agnes journeyed to heaven. Now I have Laverne and Eleanor. I get asked a lot, when I will get another lil one, but for now these two need a lot of attention, especially Laverne. I am working hard to help her to learn that she will never be hurt again and she is safe and loved. Some Puppy Mill breeders learn this, while others never really get over the horrors they lived. My opinion right now is that Laverne might be one of these girls who never really forgets how she suffered for so many years, and that is ok, I will forever work with her and love her JUST AS SHE IS, and I pray every day that she knows she is loved and she is perfect.

BLANCHE: Blanche…my very heart…Blanche was a pug and NOT a Puppy Mill Breeder….Blanche was the girl’s teacher and protector….and she was my best friend. She would look at the odd lil girls in their jammies and I could almost tell she was thinking, ‘what in the world is with these girls!?” She was the one who taught them to potty outside, the beds were soft and for them, that treats are yummy, and that Mommy is kind. She was also their protector and when anyone came to the house Blanche would always sit in between the girls and whoever was visiting, keeping a close eye on the visitor. Blanche slept next to me for 15 years and she was the one I celebrated with, laughed with, cried on, and danced around the house with. She spent most of her life sitting on my feet and if you came to visit she would sit on your feet too! She put up with the “skinny girls’, as she called them, and she snuggled better than any dog ever! Blanche passed away in 2020 from a brain tumor and cancer, it came out of nowhere and one day she was gone…I miss her….so much….

Please go to Lil Olives page and follow how Pam gets her rescues to realize they can trust people, can be loved and warm and have full bellies.


Stop Puppy Mills!

Adopt, Don’t Shop!