Puppy mills are still a thing
A friend of ours recently rescued a dog from a puppy mill, and I was astonished. I thought that the puppy mill days were long gone, but stores and individuals are still purchasing enough to keep this cruel practice going.
Adopting an animal is always a good option, and sometimes specific breeds are available. But if you'd like to buy a purebred, there's a kind and healthy way to do so. Many breeders take care of their animals and have a genuine passion and love for them. Here are some ways to tell if the breeder is one of the good ones or a mill owner.
Are you welcome on site?
Many mill owners will meet you with animals in a public location like a parking lot. This is a red flag and likely means that conditions where the dogs live are dirty, cramped, and unhealthy.
A respectable breeder can show you the living situation and the parents of the animal with no fear of being turned in, and no embarrassment of conditions.
How old is the puppy?
Pups removed earlier than 8 weeks can have psychological damage that is impossible to overcome even with training and medication. Young dogs learn their manners from their mothers and litter mates and if they spend enough time there before coming to your home, they will be easier and more pleasant to live with and train.
Often you can meet puppies or put a deposit down earlier if you'd like.
How many breeds or litters are available?
Puppy mills often have multiple popular "fashion" breeds available, and have several litters to choose from at a time. Respectable breeders are more likely to have a waiting list and one breed.
Time sensitive gifts
If you'd like to give the gift of a purebred and your breeder has a waitlist, you can always give a card and photo of the pup you've spoken for. Don't risk giving a puppy that might become aggressive later, or supporting a system that harms and exploits animals.