Puppy Mills and Breeders

Information On “Puppy Mills,” “Backyard Breeders” and “Reputable Breeders”

Welcome to Animal Wellness Center of Bonita. Thank you for considering or choosing us to provide preventative and corrective medical, surgical and dental care for your canine or feline family member.

Congratulations on the purchase, adoption, rescue or consideration of adding a new family member!

The reason for including this in the website is based upon the experience caring for puppies and dogs from puppy mills and backyard breeders in comparison to reputable breeders. An additional reason for this section is the harsh reality of witnessing fatal tactics to control the pet population through euthanasia at shelters across this great nation (excluding no kill shelters).

Many unsuspecting owners purchase a puppy directly or indirectly through a puppy mill. A puppy mill is a place where dogs are kept for reproduction, where breeding dogs are housed in cages, many 24 hours a day. Some puppy mills are large operations, usually in states without a pet lemon law, with hundreds to thousands of dogs, while other puppy mills are smaller scale operations. awc does not recommend obtaining a puppy directly or indirectly through a puppy mill. Indirect support of a puppy mill most frequently occurs through a local pet store purchase, although not all pet stores are evil in our opinion.

In order to maintain a thriving business, puppy mills employ deceptive tactics. Here are some examples:

  • Will come to you to show you the puppy, mother and rarely the stud (father). They do not show you where the puppy is raised with their littermates. If you can’t visit the mother and where the puppies are raised then you should not purchase a puppy there. Resist the urge to purchase a puppy in this scenario. Each puppy that is sold from a puppy mill supports the puppy mill industry. If you have not fully researched where you are getting your next pet you should know you are likely supporting a puppy mill.
  • Elaborate web sites.
  • Claim their dogs are registered. Some are registered with the AKC, but that doesn’t stop them from being from a puppy mill. Others are ‘registered’ with other ‘fake’ type organizations to deceive you. Please research the breeder before you purchase a dog. And by the way, many well-bred and cared for dogs and cats are less expensive then puppy mill animals.

The following are links to sites and videos of puppy mill situations:

If you’ve purchased one of these animals, we will help you provide for his/her veterinary care. We just hope you will be educated and help prevent puppy mills in the future. Many veterinarians have seen health and behavior problems with puppy mill animals because of how they have been raised and cared for. We hate to see this and want to prevent it as much as possible.

This is a link to one of the pages on the AKC site about some puppy purchasing concerns to help you get started looking for the right puppy.

Backyard Breeder is a term used for people that are breeding their dogs for their own reasons but may raise the puppies in a great environment. Some of these people may rise to the level of “reputable breeder” or may be slipping down the slope into the puppy mill category. Backyard breeders give various reasons for breeding their dogs. Here are some examples:

  • To recoup the expense of purchasing the dog they bought. The reality is it may be a very costly.
  • Wanting their family to experience the ‘miracle of birth’.
  • “My dog has such a good personality; I’d like a pup from her/him.” Most dogs have good personalities. Most dogs have more than one pup in a litter so the others must find homes.
  • “People tell me they would like a pup from my dog.” Most of us would like a puppy and frequently say that to others to make them feel good and to give the other a compliment.

Why would a reputable breeder sell a puppy to or through a pet shop?

They wouldn’t. Regardless of what a pet store employee may tell you.

What to look for in a Reputable Breeder’s contract:

  • Breeder is willing to take back the animal at any time during the animal’s life if the purchaser is no longer willing to keep the pet. They may not offer a refund, but they are trying to insure that their puppies and kittens do not become a burden on society and do not fall into the hands of unscrupulous people.
  • Puppies sold as pet quality will be required to be spayed (“ovariohysterectomy”) or neutered (“castration”) before or near the animal’s puberty. Early spay/neuter can have implications for problems later on for large and giant breed dogs and, therefore, sterilization of large and giant breed puppies should be performed at puberty or later (but before 12 months of age).
  • Reputable breeders will not breed a dog before 2 years of age or a cat before 1 year of age.
  • Reputable breeders have proven their breeding animals. They have proven the animals in one or more ways. They have earned championship titles in the show ring, proven to be champions in obedience, tracking, field trials, and agility or in several other ways.
  • Reputable breeders have ensured each dog has been screened for genetic or inherited (hereditary) defects known to their breed.
  • Reputable breeders have raised the pups in a clean, loving environment.
  • Most reputable breeders only have a limited number of puppies available a year. They only have a few breeding females and will only breed them to have a litter once per year. It can be hard to find a puppy from a reputable breeder because they don’t have that many puppies! But, most will be happy to speak to you about their breed and will direct you to someone that is another reputable breeder. Or they will put you on a waiting list if they want you to have one of their puppies. Most reputable breeders don’t advertise. You have to find them. But they are out there and are the gems of the dog and cat world.
  • A reputable breeder has been known to decline sale of their puppy to a person/family that is not the right fit, in their opinion.

(adopted with permission from Lisa Bennett, DVM)