What is a Puppy, Kitten, Rabbit Mill?

Dedicated to Washoe County's continued excellence as a world-leader in the treatment of animals.
If you don't know what a puppy mill is, you've come to the right place. Check out the articles, view some of the videos, and take a look at the polls to get an idea why puppy mills need to come to an end by banning sales of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail stores in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.

Legal Definition of a Puppy Mill

"A 'puppy mill' is a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits"

—Avenson v. Zegart, 577 F. Supp. 958,960 (D. Minn. 1984).


After World War II, soldiers came home to a failing agricultural market in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested that farmers attempt to support their families by breeding pure-bred dogs. With no money and no experience in dog breeding, farmers made use of what they had, often putting dogs in rabbit hutches. In an attempt at increasing profits, farmers began ?[b]uying cheap low quality dog food or feeding table scraps [to] increase[ ] the profits. The expense of proper veterinary care was a luxury they chose not to have. . . . Medical care was not provided and cleaning and sanitation was ignored.? When farmers turned the focus of the business to profits over the comfort of the breeding stock, the first puppy mills were spawned.

SOMETHING STINKS: The Need for Environmental Regulation of Puppy Mills A Report by Villanova University via the Animal Legal & Historical Center, University of Michigan College of Law
All animals must be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. I am deeply disturbed when I hear stories of puppy mills, animal fighting rings, and the inhumane transport of animals. Individuals who engage in these gross acts must be punished swiftly and to the fullest extent of the law.

Mark Amodei
Nevada Congressional Representative
District 2 (including Northern Nevada).

Letter to constituents regarding the Farm Bill and the "King Amendment," 5 Aug, 2013.

(Emphasis ours.)
What is a Puppy Mill?
"What is a Puppy Mill?" — Best Friends Animal Society

You have the power to fight puppy mills. Right now, hundreds of thousands of puppies are living in squalid conditions, waiting to be shipped out to pet stores. It?s no life for man's best friend. But by adopting pets instead of buying them, we can all help change this forever. More…

Oprah's 45 minute show on puppy mills

"It is my belief that when you actually see this, America, with your own eyes, that you all are not going to stand for it."

The puppy factory con from Animals Australia on Vimeo.

This is the kind of thing that happens when stores try to source locally-only like some do in Las Vegas.

The last thing we'd want in Reno or anywhere in Northern Nevada is yet another real, live puppy mill.

Backyard puppy breeder or animal hoarder?
Channel 13 News video, Las Vegas

Pahrump, NV (KTNV) -- When you buy a pet online, do you know where it's coming from? Contact 13 tracked Las Vegas puppies to a home in Pahrump that's overrun with animals.

Is it backyard breeding? Animal hoarding? Whatever you call it, it's against the law.

"They were just everywhere. Puppies, big dogs, in the kitchen, in front, no space in that house there wasn't a dog," recalled Dawn Douglas.

Most people have never seen anything like the house in Pahrump where Dawn Douglas bought her two Shih Tzu puppies in March.

"I went on Craigslist and I know they say you shouldn't but I did."

She paid $300 cash, took the young pups straight to her Las Vegas condo and within days, "They started to get sick and then within a week of having them they were in the hospital diagnosed with the Parvovirus." See News Video….

Puppy Distribution Companies. How Puppies get from Missouri or Kansas to places like Reno

USDA Licencing & American Kennel Club (AKC) cccreditation still means suffering

Please understand, these animals NEVER leave their cages but once in their lives, when they are "gotten rid of."

They have no names, the expense of veterinarian care is not spent on them, they never know a kind touch. The only touch they know is when their puppies are taken away from them. They have no names.

Studies show these conditions are not the exception, this is the rule for puppy mill breeding where the puppies are sold to the few retail stores that still carry them.

Adopting from shelters or a certified non-profit rescue organization usually costs $45-$100 with shots and spay/neuter included.

PetCo and PetSmart do not sell puppies, kitties or bunnies.
—Puppy Mill Free Reno

Many think that an American Kennel Club approved breeder is cruelty-free.

This Today Show exposé reveals the truth:

About Puppy Mills, Main Line Animal Rescue, 2/2013

We all know puppy mills are bad. Factory farms where thousands of breeding dogs are kept in cages slightly larger than their own bodies.

Underfed dogs feeding an industry of corruption and greed. Instead of walking on grass, they spend a lifetime on painful wire flooring in cramp rabbit hutches. Instead of collars or bandanas, they wear rusted livestock clips in their ears or chains with USDA tags embedded in their necks. Undeserving of a name after eight years of service, a breeding female is often starved to death or led into a dark cornfield and shot once she can no longer produce puppies for market.

The factory farming of man's best friend is an ugly business. Each step of the process is harsh, inhumane and unspeakably cruel.

From the time a female dog comes into her first heat cycle at six or seven months of age, she is bred unmercifully. Producing two litters a year for eight years, she will spend her entire life isolated from the outside world. Kept along with hundreds of other breeding dogs in rows of outside hutches or hidden away in dark barns. Deprived of the most basic of veterinary care, she can suffer from untreated bite wounds, pneumonia, heat stroke, ear infections, blindness, malnutrition, splayed and swollen feet, periodontal disease and mange. Main Line Animal Rescue has rescued breeding females who were "de-barked" with steal pipes, their back teeth cracked, their jaws broken. Other dogs have come to us with scars from undergoing more than a dozen Caesarian sections, all performed without anesthesia by commercial dog breeders, who are generally farmers unqualified to perform such surgeries. More…
What is a Puppy Mill? ASPCA FAQ.
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.

Some puppy mill puppies are sold to pet shops—usually through a broker, or middleman—and marketed as young as eight weeks of age. The lineage records of puppy mill dogs are often falsified. Other puppy mill puppies are sold directly to the public, including over the Internet, through newspaper ads, and at swap meets and flea markets. More…

From C.A.P.S. — Companion Animal Protection Society
One in five puppies bought online die before they reach six months old and many are more aggressive
• Kennel Club has warned would-be owners to avoid online retailers
• They say puppies bought online often have behavioural problems
• They have warned of a 'consumer protection and puppy welfare crisis'
• TV vet Mark Abraham believes the problem could still get worse

Almost one in five puppies bought from online sellers die before they reach six months old. The Kennel Club has discovered that half of the dogs show behavioural problems, while more than one in ten have serious health issues. They are warning would-be owners to avoid retailers who use websites and social media as a front for cruel puppy farms. Welfare organisations say such breeders are interested only in profits, rather than the animals' well-being.

'We have an extremely serious consumer protection and puppy welfare crisis on our hands.' More…
Puppy Mills and How People Support Them Without Knowing, World Awareness Society
What percentage of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills - 50%? 75%? How about 90%. Approximately 90% of puppies in pet stores come from commercial breeding facilities known as "puppy mills". In a puppy mill dogs are mass-produced and sold to pet stores, as well as through classified ads and over the Internet.

In most states it is legal to keep HUNDREDS of dogs in cages their entire lives - simply for the purpose of reproduction. Most, if not all of the time, their feet never touch the ground. They are kept in crowded wire cages filled with excrement, kept outdoors without shelter from the elements, given little to eat or drink and what is available is generally unsanitary. Puppies born from puppy mill moms are taken away prematurely and suffer significant behavioral issues. Dogs in puppy mills are strictly commodities with no regard of their welfare. More….
Animal Welfare Act, Bailing Out Benji
So many people have questions about USDA licensed breeders, the people who inspect them, and why certain licensed breeders are allowed to get away with many violations without any consequence- not to mention the many problems we have with small town zoos. The Animal Welfare Act can be difficult to interpret, and it is subjective to each inspector. Thanks to the Best Friends Network, I was able to come across this explanation and then expand on it.

• Inspections are "Risk-based," meaning that facilities that meet a certain criteria are inspected "as seldom as once every 2 to 3 years."
• Cage size: must be 6 inches larger than the size of the dog, on all sides
• Up to 12 dogs can be housed in one cage
• Dogs never have to be let out of their cages. Breeders only need to have an exercise plan
• There is no limit to the number dogs a breeder can have—many have over 1,000
• There is no age limit for breeding dogs. If a dog is able to produce puppies for ten years, that's how long they could be in the facility. More…
Inside a Puppy Mill
More than 95 dogs, including small breeds such as Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Yorkshire Terriers, Corgis and Chihuahuas, as well as one cat, were seized from the property. The severely underweight animals were housed in feces, encrusted pens and suffering from neglect, skin disease, rotted teeth, malnutrition, fur matted with feces, and various other infections were rampant. Several dead adult dogs and puppies were also discovered on the property. More…

Hundreds of thousands of dogs suffer in puppy mills in this country. The dogs are prisoners of greed. They are locked in small cages. They freeze in the winter and swelter in the summer. The dogs never get out of their prisons. They are bred over and over again until they die. The only way to free them from the misery of these horrid puppymills is to eliminate the demand for puppies by refusing to buy a puppy in a pet store and boycotting those pet stores that sell puppies. When people stop buying puppies in pet stores, the puppy mills will go out of business and the misery will end.

Please join this fight to free the prisoners of greed. The only person who is going to make a difference for the dogs suffering in puppy mills is you. You, the people, can free them from their puppy mill prisons. More, including a large library of photos and resources….

Puppy Mill, Wikipedia
A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care. Similar types of operations exist for other animals most commonly kept as pets or used as feed for other animals. The term can be applied to operations involving other animals commercially bred for profit, e.g. "kitty mills." There are an estimated 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. that produce more than half a million puppies a year….

For-profit breeding on a smaller scale may be referred to as backyard breeding, although this term has negative connotations and may also refer to unplanned or non-commercial breeding.

Although no standardized legal definition for "puppy mill" exists, a definition was established in Avenson v. Zegart in 1984 as "a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits." The ASPCA uses a similar definition: "a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs." (Emphasis ours.) More…

What Are These Red Boxes?

Do you ever see pictures of a puppy mill and wonder what these red boxes are? They are 7 day feeders, which means that they hold seven day's worth of food. These feeders make it super easy for the breeders. They only have to enter the building once a week to feed the dogs. I don't know what is worse, that puppy mill dogs don't even get human interaction to be fed, or that these boxes block their vision from what little they can see outside of the cage. PLEASE adopt and don't shop!

From Make it Illegal to sell Dogs/Puppies in Pet Stores, Facebook page.

To see what size cage the dog you spend your life with would fit in, use this easy online tool. Measure from nose to base of spine and plug in the inches.

Our mascot, Brooks, measures 50". The law only requires the cage be 4½' x 4½' to spend his entire life in. We're not sure he could even turn around since his tail is so large.

Luckily, instead, his life is like this. We call him Rin Tin Brooks.

Help us end the inhumane and sickening puppy mill trade. Sign our petition to ban the sale of rabbits, dogs and cats in retail stores in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County now.

SOMETHING STINKS: The Need for Environmental Regulation of Puppy Mills, A Report by Villanova University via the Animal Legal & Historical Center, University of Michigan College of Law.

The overwhelming smell is always the first to hit you. Next it is the sound; twenty-five to forty wire mesh cages, many containing multiple puppies, line the walls of this Conshohocken, Pennsylvania pet store. The cages have drip pans underneath, which are supposed to allow for easy clean up of waste, but the puppies are still covered in their own excrement and urine. When asked about the breeding information for a beautiful, friendly American-Eskimo Keeshond designer mix selling for five hundred dollars, the store employee gives a generalized description of "somewhere in Pennsylvania." Skirting the identification of a puppy's breeder can be a puppy mill warning signal. More…
Puppy Mill Rescue in Nebraska

Many pups sold in pet shops and online were born to abused animals in puppy farms.

You can break the cycle of suffering.

Adopt. Save Lives. From Animals Australia

Kitty Mills

Kitty Mills: The Awful Truth
71% of all cats or kittens that find themselves in the unfortunate position of being in a shelter are euthanized before forever homes can be found. Only one out of every five kittens and cats are destined to live in one home for their lifetime. Most cats find themselves abandoned or left on the shelter doorstep when they are either too much responsibility or lose their cute little kitten appeal. More…

Latest News
The Agriculture Department is cracking down on dog breeders who sell puppies over the Internet, issuing new regulations that will force them to apply for federal licenses.

The rules announced Tuesday would subject dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies online, by mail or over the phone to the same oversight faced by wholesale animal breeders.

Many breeders who run their businesses online have skirted federal oversight by classifying themselves as retail pet stores, which are exempt from licensing requirements. Commercial pet stores aren't required to have licenses because buyers can see the animals before they buy them and decide whether they appear healthy and cared for. But that's not the case when buying over the Internet. More…
Phoenix passes puppy-mill rule, AZ Central, Phoenix, 12/2013
Forget how much that doggie in the window costs—Phoenix leaders who voted to create a new law regulating pet stores on Wednesday just want to make sure it's a rescue.

Decrying the abusive practices of some large-scale animal breeders known as puppy mills and the Valley's pet overpopulation, the City Council approved an ordinance that bans pet stores from selling dogs or cats unless the animals come from the pound or a non-profit shelter or rescue group. More…

More Cities Banning Puppy Mill Pet Sales, KTVN, Reno, 10/2013
A new ordinance in San Diego bans stores from selling pets that come from commercial breeders. Shops are only allowed to sell "rescued" animals from shelters. Similar bans passed in 31 cities. One in South Lake Tahoe went into effect in 2011. Reno has no such ordinance, although some have suggested it.

Dale Bartlett with the Humane Society of the U.S. hopes the bans put commercial breeders out of business. His group's undercover investigations show nightmarish conditions where dogs are bred continuously. He says the facilities, commonly known as puppy mills, produce an estimated 2 million puppies each year. As he put it, "Dogs are kept in tiny wire cages, sometimes only 6 inches from their tip of their nose to the cage for the entire lives." More…
Taking the pet out of pet stores, Kingston Whig-Standard, 8/2013
Pet stores in Kingston will no longer be allowed to sell pets, as in dogs, cats and rabbits.

The decision was reached by city councillors on Tuesday night after hours of questioning that involved a pet store owner, an animal rescue group, the humane society, and the chamber of commerce.

Those inquiries evolved into a wide-ranging debate that explored everything from the legalities of municipal bans to the commodification of animals.

The tone was set before the meeting began.

"Pets are not products," was a message on some of the signs held by about 30 people supporting the group Kingston Animal Rescue to have the ban passed.

The advocates stood on either side of the long hallway leading into the council chambers, impossible for the politicians to not see.

The organization views the ban on pet store sales as a way of controlling the problem of unwanted animals and are concerned that stores are not required to have animals spayed or neutered.

It also questions the sources for the animals — whether they are being supplied by puppy mills or people looking to profit from cats and dogs while subjecting them to cruel living conditions. More…
San Diego City Council votes unanimously to ban 'puppy mill' sales, 7/9/2013.
The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.

The amendment to the municipal code would make it "unlawful for any person to display, offer for sale, deliver, barter, auction, giveaway, transfer or sell any live dog, cat or rabbit in any pet shop, retail business or other commercial establishment located in the city of San Diego, unless the dog, cat or rabbit was obtained from a city or county animal shelter or animal control agency, a humane society or a non profit rescue organization."

Pet stores will need to keep certificates that identify the sources of their animals and make them available to animal control officers, law enforcement, code compliance officials or other city employees.

The proposal was given an initial go-ahead in May by the council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.

A report to the committee said dogs, cats and rabbits bred for pet stores are kept in inhumane conditions, are more likely to carry genetic disorders, are poorly socialized, and too many end up being abandoned by owners and going to shelters.

Committee Chairwoman Marti Emerald said the code change would protect both animals and consumers.

The ordinance is supported by the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, Animal Protection and Rescue League, Companion Animal Protection Society and San Diego Animal Defense Team, which regularly stages protests outside pet shops. More…
San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

No pups for sale? Cities ban pet shops.
Movement aims to curb puppy mills, spur shelter adoptions
Buying an adorable puppy or kitten at your local pet store may become a thing of the past, if more American cities join a small but growing movement to ban retail pet sales.

West Hollywood, Calif., became the latest city to put a leash on pet sales in February, when its city council unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting sales of dogs and cats in retail stores. Albuquerque, N.M., and South Lake Tahoe, Calif., have also banned pet sales. Other cities in Florida, New Mexico,

Missouri and elsewhere are considering similar bans on the sale of dogs and cats.

Animal advocates say pet store sales fuel the puppy mill industry, where dogs are bred and raised in cramped, unhealthy and inhumane conditions. They have similar concerns about "kitten factories," which are a smaller but growing problem. Efforts to crack down on animal mills have been hindered by limited enforcement resources, so ban proponents are shifting their focus from the supply side to the demand. Far better, they say, to adopt from a local shelter or buy directly from a reputable breeder. More…

Poll: Most prefer pets from shelters
Four in 10 fear cats, dogs bought at stores would be ill
Remember that old song, "How much is that doggie in the window?" For most Americans, it seems it's no sale.

More than half of people in an Associated Press-Petside.com poll said they would get their next dog or cat from a shelter, nearly seven times the number who said they would buy their next pet from a store.

And more than four in 10 said they thought store pets could have hidden medical or psychological problems. That's significantly more than those who expressed the same concerns about pets from animal shelters or breeders.

"I believe they overbreed the pets. I believe they couldn't care less about the pets, they're really in it for the money. I think you are more likely to get a pet at a pet store that is ill or has problems," said Sandra Toro, 62, of Colton, Calif.

Just 8 percent of those polled said they would get their next cat or dog at a store, while 13 percent said that's where they got the pet they have now. Fifty-four percent of those polled said they would probably get their next pet from a shelter, while 23 percent went for a breeder. More…
Beware Of Buying From Online Dog Breeders,
According to the Humane Society, North Carolina had more puppy mill busts than any other state in 2011 and 2012. And if you buy an animal from one of these breeders, chances are, you might not know anything is wrong until it's too late.

Ricky and Rita Brooks of Deltona say their love for dogs clouded their judgement. When they bought an Australian Shepherd from "Blue-Eyed Beauty Aussies" in Sarasota, they thought they had the perfect pet.

But just as quickly as the Brooks fell in love, their puppy fell sick. More…
Puppy Mills, AKC, And PETA, Hampton Roads, 7/2013
Most puppies are purchased on an impulse. Make it harder to sell puppies in a pet store and that cuts down on the impulse buying. Make it harder to have huge industrialized dog breeding operations and you cut down on the number of pets who will end up homeless. Having fewer homeless animals makes it easier for rescues and shelters to rehome pets. More…

Standing Tall in Washoe County, Nathan J. Winograd, 10/2010.
If there was ever an agency which should have a high rate of killing according to traditional sheltering dogma, indeed if there was ever a community where No Kill could not work, it is Washoe County. But it is working. Year-to-date, WCRAS has a stunning 95% rate of lifesaving. More…

Nevada Humane Society: How We Did It!
How Nevada Humane Society dramatically and rapidly improved the lifesaving rate in our shelter and made our community one of the safest in the nation for homeless animals. More…

Maddie's Lifesaving Award in Washoe County, Nevada
Maddie's Fund® awarded its prestigious Community Lifesaving Award to four animal welfare organizations in Washoe County, Nevada for achieving and maintaining no-kill status for two years (2010 and 2011).

The $1.3M unrestricted grant was given to Nevada Humane Society ($800,000), SPCA of Northern Nevada ($200,000), Pet Network ($100,000), and Washoe County Regional Animal Services ($200,000) for saving all of the county's healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats. It was divided between the organizations based on their pet adoption numbers and on Washoe County Regional Animal Services' live releases.

Washoe County is the largest (population 425,000) and most successful no-kill community in the nation [emphasis ours]: the live release rate is 92%. The coalition's lifesaving achievement is all the more impressive considering the county's high rate of unemployment (nearly 20%), number of foreclosures, and animal intakes per 1,000 people (38).

The $1.3M grant to Washoe County is the largest Lifesaving Award Maddie's Fund has issued. More…
How much is that doggy in the Instagram? Things to consider before hitting up #petsforsale, Digital Trends, 8/2013
Kahn believes that people who are selling dogs and cats over the Internet and social apps purely for profit are not people who any consumer (and animal lover) would ever want to purchase a pet from to begin with - pet adoption and rescue is by far the most humane way to acquire a new animal friend. "The Internet is not regulated when it comes to pet sales - regardless of what guarantees are all over websites and what pictures you see, you don't know where the animal is coming from - it is highly likely that those pets came from a puppy mill."

Unfortunately, with the way the Internet is structured, things like online pet sales remain unregulated and are therefore, technically legal. "The biggest problem is there is zero regulation on sales of pets online, which is incredibly unfortunate because we find some of the most unscrupulous operators in the country taking advantage of that lack of regulation and doing most of their business over the Internet." More…
Nevada Humane Society: No-Kill FAQ
Our goal is to create a no-kill community for Washoe County, Nevada. To achieve this goal we are going to need the support of the entire community, individuals, businesses, and other organizations.

NHS works closely with Washoe County Animal Control, as well as many rescue groups and other humane organizations toward this goal. More…

The No Kill Movement-Full Steam Ahead, The American Dog.
Mitch Schneider runs a municipal shelter in Washoe County, Nevada. A skeptic, he did not believe in the No Kill Equation, but he was willing to give it a try. Today, his agency has a 95% rate of lifesaving, with only hopelessly ill and injured and dangerous dogs losing their lives. He is happy to have been proved wrong. "No matter what any of us believes, we ultimately won't know if something will work unless we are willing to give it a try" Mitch explains. More…

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