What is a Puppy Mill?

What is a puppy mill?
Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities where puppies are produced solely for profit. There is little consideration for the breeding male and female dogs who live in cages their entire lives.  They often lack veterinary care, grooming, decent water and food, shelter from the weather, and socialization. The mother dogs are bred over and over until they can no longer produce. Puppies are taken from the moms when they are very young and are often born with congenital problems or catch deseases at the mill. Unsuspecting consumers buy sick puppies and are heartbroken to learn that their new puppy has a serious illness or defect. The costs of treating sick puppies can be very high. Returning the puppy to the store often means it's death.

Are There Puppy Mills in Colorado?
Currently there are approximately 157 licensed large and small scale breeding facilities in Colorado. Likely there are many more that are not licensed and regulated.  Small scale breeding facilities are defined as those transferring 24 to 99 puppies per year.  Large scale facilities transfer more than 99 puppies per year.  There is no limit to the number of dogs or puppies a breeding facility can own or transfer.

Are Puppy Mills Regulated or Inspected?

Regulation in Colorado is through the Department of Agriculture’s Pet Animal Care Facilities Act ( PACFA). There are 5 inspectors in Colorado and they are charged with overseeing over 1800 pet animal care facilities, which include breeding facilities, pet stores, doggy day cares, groomers, shelters and rescues.  Pet shops and mills are inspected on a rating system. Those that have had numerous violations are inspected more frequently, although with only 4 inspectors available consistent inspections are difficult to accomplish.


How Do You Shut a Puppy Mill Down?
It is very difficult to shut down puppy mills because they are legal and rarely allow the public onto their property.  There are many businesses and organizations, strictly driven by commercial interests, that work against changes to the mill industry.  Those organizations have paid lobbyists and a lot of money to fight any new animal welfare laws. Only by educating and enlisting the public's help in making legislative changes can this cruel industry be curtailed and eventually ended.  

Where Do the Puppies Go?
Puppy mills sell dogs over the internet, through newspapers, to pet shops, in parking lots and at auctions.  Pet store owners often claim that they personally check out breeders. They also tell unsuspecting buyers the puppies aren't from mills, but from home breeders or that they buy only from USDA or PACFA inspected facilities, although USDA and PACFA inspected facilities are commercial breeding facilities.  Web sites will often depict the breeding facilities as warm and cozy homes when in reality they are abusive and cruel mills. 

What Can I Do to Help End Puppy Mills?
There are many ways you can help end puppy mills.

  • First, never buy from a pet store or the Internet, no matter what they say, the puppy most likely comes from a mill
  • Adopt from a rescue or shelter first
  • Tell your friends and family never to buy a puppy from a pet shop or the Internet without seeing the breeding location and the parents
  • Don’t shop at stores or website stores that sell puppies
  • Don't buy a puppy from anyone who refuses to allow you to see the location or parents
  • Remember, a reputable breeder would not sell to a pet store.  A reputable breeder will want to know everything about you and how you plan to care for the puppy
  • Become active with policy changes, let your representatives know that dog welfare is important to you
  • Join 3CWs email list on the right side of this page, become a volunteer,  and donate.