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May 09, 2013

Getting Granular on Puppy Mill Cruelty

As part of “Puppy Mill Action Week,” The HSUS today released “A Horrible Hundred,” a report that documents a litany of deficiencies and appalling details concerning the mistreatment of dogs at commercial dog breeding facilities. Don’t read the report if you are not prepared for your blood to boil. Many of the facilities listed have been cited by federal inspectors for violations, including dogs found freezing in the cold or left out in the sweltering heat without protection; dogs with open wounds, injuries and tumors who had not been treated by a vet; filthy conditions; and in some cases, operators who even shot and killed their unwanted breeding dogs. Most of the puppy mills in the report are still actively selling to pet stores across the country while others sell puppies online without a federal license.

A Chihuahua that was rescued from Royal Acres Kennel in North Carolina
Meredith Lee/The HSUS

The good news is that we’ve been calling on lawmakers to crack down on these kinds of puppy mills, and increasingly, lawmakers are responding. This month alone, Vermont and West Virginia passed bills to protect dogs from irresponsible breeding. The West Virginia measure was signed into law last week, and the Vermont bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. And today, a bill in North Carolina passed the House of Representatives; it now moves on to the Senate. Bills are moving forward in other states, too. These states join 24 others that have passed new laws to crack down on puppy mills over the last five years; more than 30 states altogether have some laws to regulate puppy mills.

Earlier this month, we learned a proposed rule that would help to regulate the hundreds of puppy mills that sell over the Internet moved forward to the final stage of the federal approval process. When finalized, the rule will require large-scale puppy producers who sell online to be federally licensed and inspected.

For this year’s Puppy Mill Action Week we also released a number of new features to help you spread the word about puppy mills:


  • A new phone application that helps pet lovers find nearby pet stores that do not sell puppies. Text PUPPY to 30644 to find “puppy friendly” stores that support their local shelters and do not sell puppies (message & data rates apply).
  • We also released a new video that explains puppy mills and asks consumers to do their part by pledging not to buy a puppy mill dog from a pet store or Internet site, and by always considering adoption from a shelter or rescue group first.
  • A Humane Society University webinar about stopping puppy mills was offered live this week, and is now available online for free.
  • A new comprehensive story, “Anatomy of a Puppy Mill Raid,” gives readers an inside perspective on a puppy mill raid from the rescuer’s point of view.

We won’t relent until the puppy mills are shuttered and only humane and responsible breeders remain. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to promote adoption of dogs from shelters and rescues as the first option – so that people can not only get a great companion, but also save a life.

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