Ever stopped at a pet store window and drooled over the adorable puppies behind the glass? Don’t they look cute, healthy, and happy? If only you knew what puppy mill statistics reveal.
The majority, if not all, puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills that can make even the most atrocious jails look like a haven.
We’ve gathered some of the most important, and infuriating, stats on puppy mills, as well as the industry that keeps them in business. If you want to know more, continue reading.
Top 10 Must-Know Puppy Mill Statistics
- There are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the US.
- 43 dealers from the 2019 Horrible Hundred list are repeat offenders.
- Over a million puppies are produced yearly by licensed facilities in the US.
- California was the very first state to ban retail pet sales.
- Less than 3,000 known puppy mills are regulated.
- There are no puppy mill death statistics as deaths aren’t reported.
- There are about 167,388 breeding dogs in facilities licensed by the USDA.
- Puppy mills also produce animals that are used in labs for animal testing.
- About 2.04 million puppies produced by puppy mills are sold each year.
- One Amish puppy mill owner sold 1,293 puppies in just one year.
Those happy wagging tales hide a sad story. Read on to learn the details. They’ll probably make you shudder in disgust and shame for even considering being a part of this abusive cycle.
General Puppy Mill Statistics
Many people don’t realize that mass breeders produce nearly all of the animals in pet stores, not just puppies.
Usually, these animals are bred as livestock in deplorable conditions. They lack veterinary attention and socialization. Puppies produced in such circumstances often have chronic illnesses. Or, they die shortly after being purchased from the pet store.
The more aware people are of where puppies in pet stores actually come from, the better.
1. There are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the US.
Puppy mill statistics from 2019 give a rough estimation of the number of puppy mills in the US. It is hard to give an exact number because not all puppy mills and backyard breeders are registered. Their numbers are always changing.
The Humane Society also revealed that while many do close down, many new ones open their doors.
2. 43 dealers from the 2019 Horrible Hundred list are repeat offenders in the 2020 report.
Puppy mill statistics from 2020 reveal a horrible truth. The Humane Society releases the Horrible Hundred report every year, revealing the US’s worst 100 pet dealers.
Even though 43 of them were listed in previous years’ reports, they have appeared yet again in the 2020 report.
This means that even though the report provides precise details on these issues, the USDA isn’t doing enough to make them change their ways.
3. There are no accurate puppy mill death statistics as they are not required to report them.
A lot goes on behind closed doors in puppy mills. Parent dogs die young due to exhaustion, malnutrition, and during birth, while many puppies die as soon as they are born.
If they survive birth, puppies often die during transport. Or once they have been bought due to underlying health problems new owners were not even aware of.
Between licensed puppy mills and the black puppy market, it’s impossible to estimate the exact number of dogs that die each year.
4. Puppy mill facts and statistics reveal that almost all puppies sold in stores come from puppy mills.
(The Puppy Mill Project)
Puppy mills exist due to pet stores essentially “feeding” them, allowing them to make one Hell of a profit. Although they do make a lot of online sales, the great majority sells primarily to pet stores.
Thus, pet stores are the ones keeping puppy mills in business. Slowing down puppy mills and their abusive ways is almost impossible. Unless the stores stop buying from mills or stop selling puppies altogether.
5. Over a million puppies are produced yearly by licensed facilities in the US.
Information on puppy mills and puppy mill stats reveal that licensed USDA puppy mills produce 1,307,407 puppies a year. This is in light of about 25% of dogs in animal shelters being purebred. What’s more, many of these shelters are, in fact, kill shelters.
By buying a new puppy from a pet store, people contribute to this abusive system and the overall tally of innocent animals dying in shelters.
Adopting from a shelter is a much better option.
6. Puppy mill stats reveal that 30 people were infected with Campylobacter jejuni. The disease was contracted by puppies in a pet store.
These reports come from 13 different states. The outbreak most likely began due to contact with infected puppies in Petland stores.
It’s suspected that the puppies arrived at the store already infected. The outbreak then spread to 5 Petland employees and 12 other individuals, all of which reported some kind of contact with said puppies.
7. California was the very first state to ban retail pet sales.
Puppy mill facts reveal that currently, about 300 cities and the same number of counties prohibit the retail sale of pets. Including the entire state of Maryland that passed the ban in 2018.
Many of these bans include not only puppies but also rabbits and kittens too.
Many more cities, counties, and states have pending bills to ban retail pet sales, including the state of New York. The ASPCA continued pushing the bill throughout 2020.
8. Less than 3,000 known puppy mills are regulated.
Of the 10,000 known puppy mills, only a small percentage is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. This means that more than 7,000 puppy mills in the US operate under the radar, with zero control.
Want to know why puppy mills are horrible? They continue to abuse animals. And without controlling them, they get away with no repercussions.
Also, this does not include the many backyard breeders that go entirely unnoticed.
9. Pet store and puppy mill statistics reveal that 113 people were infected with Campylobacter in 2017.
Animals are not the only ones in danger here. Puppy mills can be a hazard to people as well. Due to poor hygiene and the lack of vet care, puppies that arrive in pet stores can infect anyone who directly contacts them.
The outbreak of 2017 was linked to puppies sold in Petland stores spanning across 17 states.
10. As for the general supply chain of puppy mills, statistics indicate transporters must provide food and water every 12 hours. Yet, these are often poorly enforced.
Puppies that (somehow) survive the horrible conditions at these puppy mills are not out of the woods yet! They must first be transported by puppy wholesalers cross-country, and sometimes even overseas.
At the moment, no puppy mill laws are regulating just how many puppies can be transported at once or how long they can travel. Also, the driver of the vehicle doesn’t have to have any animal care experience.
Usually, they travel days on end crammed together, sleeping in their feces. Once they reach their destinations, they are so stressed out that they often arrive either seriously ill or dead.
Puppy Mill Facts
Getting the facts straight is the first step towards understanding what exactly happens between a puppy’s birth to it coming home with its new, loving owners. Seeing how a lot is going on during this period, let’s just dive straight in.
11. There are about 167,388 breeding dogs in facilities licensed by the USDA.
(The Puppy Mill Project)
One of the saddest facts about puppy mills is that the number mentioned above is continuously changing. Breeding dogs’ lifespan is relatively short. Hence they are quickly replaced by new purebred dogs to continue this vicious cycle.
What’s more, they usually live in cramped cages, have limited veterinary care (if any at all), and are used solely for breeding. This means they get zero to little exercise, attention, or socialization.
The females are kept barely alive until they can no longer have puppies. After that, they are euthanized as there is no place for them in puppy mills.
12. Puppy mills facts and statistics reveal that each female “produces” 9.4 puppies on average every year.
There are 2 million puppies produced from puppy mills every year.
Females are usually bred two times a year. As the mothers of these puppies are severely malnourished and exhausted, they don’t produce enough milk. Hence why some puppies die within a few days of being born.
The puppies aren’t properly weaned and are usually ripped from their mother too early. This results in poor socialization, depression, and even desperation for both pup and mom.
13. Puppy mill statistics reveal that 93 dogs were killed in a homemade gas chamber in 2010.
A kennel owner in New York made a homemade gas chamber. In it, he killed five to six dogs at a time in a whelping box with piped exhaust fumes being pumped into it.
The owner claimed to have killed the dogs following an inspection that required him to test and treat his dogs for Brucellosis.
Unfortunately, many puppy mill operators see the animals as nothing more than products. If they end up costing them more than they are making, they just “get rid of them.”
14. Puppy mills facts reveal Missouri had the most problem puppy mills for 8 years straight.
Even though the HSUS had reported many puppy mills, Missouri continues to lead in the number of problem puppy mills, with 30 making the list in 2020.
Runners up were Ohio with 9 and Kansas and Wisconsin with 8, each.
15. The sad facts about puppy mills and pet stores include about 300 USDA licensed puppy brokers in the US.
Many people are to blame for the deaths of puppies and the abuse of dogs in puppy mills and not just the operators and the general pet stores that sell them.
Puppy dealers, or dog brokers, are virtually the middleman that resell the puppies bought from puppy mills to pet stores.
Pet stores benefit the most as it saves them time and provides them with a wide range of puppy suppliers. In contrast, puppy mill operators are happy as brokers usually buy off all the available puppies.
16. Puppy mills also produce animals that are used in labs for animal testing.
Facts on puppy mills state that many people don’t even realize that they also produce animals for animal testing in labs. Such facilities depend almost entirely on puppy mills for their supply of dogs (and sometimes cats) needed for testing.
One small win is that the Richland Center City Council officially passed the first-ever ban on research puppy mills and cat and dog experimentation in the country.
The new law bans experimental breeding and cats and dogs’ transportation outside of Richland Center for experimentation.
17. Pet stores and puppy mills facts reveal that dog brokers pay between $50 and $150 for puppies from puppy mills.
Puppies are priced as low as $50 (per puppy) when sold to brokers that then transport these poor animals across the country and offer them to pet stores.
Pet stores then purchase the said puppies for as little as $200 to $400 per puppy and then sell them to their new owners at prices of up to $1,400.
In essence, by buying puppies from pet stores, you aren’t only supporting the abusive puppy mills. You’re also supporting the entire food chain that lives off of forced breeding, bare-minimum living conditions, and the death of numerous animals.
18. Facts and statistics about puppy mills reveal that around $80,000 were spent in Snohomish County due to puppy mills, unlicensed breeders, and animal neglect.
The majority of the funds were spent due to a single puppy mill that required housing for 50 rescued dogs at Everett Animal Shelter, costing the county over $41,000.
Yet another case cost an additional $26,000 due to an unlicensed breeding kennel. Overall, $170 is the daily cost of sheltering these animals for the first 10 days. The costs go down to $20 per day after that.
19. About 2.04 million puppies produced by puppy mills are sold each year.
(American Grooming Academy)
Shocking facts about puppy mills reveal that there is still little awareness of what goes on at puppy mills. Despite many animal rights groups’ best efforts.
We mentioned female dogs and the abuse they endure. Yet, male dogs are far less valuable and easily replaceable — hence why they are treated far worse.
All the while, animal shelters are overflowing and are forced to euthanize many dogs, including purebreds.
Amish Puppy Mills
Before we continue with our last set of puppy mills statistics, we need to mention a gruesome fact.
The Amish community experienced a lot of backlash from animal activists after revealing that many make a living off of puppy mills.
This, however, is not the case with all Amish families, contrary to popular beliefs orchestrated by the media. Many Amish breeders take good care of their animals or earn money through other businesses besides puppy mills.
20. Puppy mill statistics show that dog farming plays a big part in the Amish economy.
(The Puppy Mill Project)
This is the dark side of Amish communities that many people aren’t even unaware of.
The majority of puppy mills are located in Shipshewana, Indiana; Holmes County, Ohio; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All populated with large Amish communities.
Puppy mills in these areas can have anywhere between 10 to 1,000 dogs, all of which will most likely spend their entire lives in cages.
21. Claims are that 20% of all puppy mills are Amish puppy mills. Yet, a fast fact check reveals that this claim is almost impossible to confirm.
It’s a well-known fact that puppy mill conditions are quite miserable. But, did you know that most puppy mills are located in parts of the country where Amish communities are predominant?
We can only speculate that they run a good 20% of puppy mills. It’s impossible to confirm this claim as most of these facilities aren’t regulated.
Not to mention that the USDA does not collect specific information about the individuals who run puppy mills — such as their religious beliefs.
22. Statistics on puppy mills reveal that one Amish puppy mill owner sold 1,293 puppies in just one year.
(Michigan Puppy Mills)
The records show that these sickly puppies have made them an estimated $290,000.
Federal inspections revealed that the farmer has had many violations since he started this abusive business in 1992. Yet, it hasn’t been closed down.
Some of the violations include inadequate sanitation, improper watering and feeding of the animals, overcrowded cages, and lack of pest control.
23. Statistics about puppy mills show there are four areas in animal breeding that the Amish take part in.
In a book called “Nature and the Environment in Amish Life” by David L. McConnell, there is a full chapter called “Tinkering with Creation.” It gives alternative business ideas involving animals for Amish families.
Aside from running puppy mills, it is also suggested that many Amish breed exotic animals and birds (even zebras), whitetail deer, and horses.
This leads us to wonder what the general conditions are on these breeding farms knowing their puppy mills’ conditions and the lack of regulation.
24. Puppy mills facts reveal that the Amish run more than 98% of puppy mills in Ohio.
(Bailing Out Benji)
Researchers dug deep, far, and wide to show the number of USDA licensed puppy mills in states with high Amish populations and how many are run by Amish families. The numbers are staggering.
As of 2016, 97% of Indiana’s puppy mills are Amish-run. In Pennsylvania, 63% of all puppy mills are run by the Amish. In contrast, other states with high Amish populations, such as Iowa, reveal that Amish families run only 22% of puppy mills.
To clear up, not every Amish is involved in this, but there are states where they are the majority.
25. What happens to puppies in puppy mills?
Suppose they survive the first couple of days after being born to a malnourished dog that usually has a hard time feeding them. In that case, they continue their short life in the puppy mill in deplorable conditions.
Once weaned before it is naturally safe to do so, they may travel for days crammed together in trucks to auctions or directly to pet stores.
Suppose they have survived this far. They are purchased for a higher price by everyone down the chain, only to potentially die or fall ill due to many health conditions puppies from puppy mills often suffer from.
26. How many dogs die in a puppy mill?
Whether directly or indirectly, operators of puppy mills kill thousands of dogs every year.
Puppies usually die shortly after being born.
Female dogs are allowed to live as long as they keep bringing new puppies into the world. If they stop reproducing, they are either killed or sold off in auctions with price tags as low as $1 each.
However, the vast majority of these animals die due to malnourishment, lack of vet care, and disease. Or they continue to suffer the long-lasting effects of the way they came into this world.
27. What percentage of dogs come from puppy mills?
Many aren’t aware of this puppy mill information, but as many as 90% of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills.
What’s more, many retailers aren’t aware or interested in the conditions these puppies are bred. They just take the breeder’s word that the dogs are healthy and happy.
28. Are puppy mills illegal?
In many cases, puppy mills aren’t illegal, but should be. Why?
If you’ve been paying attention thus far, it is pretty self-explanatory. Not only are they poorly regulated, but the dogs are also treated as livestock. They are often killed when they no longer serve a purpose.
Not to mention that animal shelters are overflowing. Thousands of animals are euthanized each year due to a lack of space and financing; many of them are purebreds.
With so many animals already looking for a place to call home, there shouldn’t even be a need for massive puppy mills.
29. Is PetSmart a puppy mill?
No, PetSmart isn’t a puppy mill.
Stores like PetSmart, Petco, and Pet Plus Natural offer the possibility to adopt a pet from a shelter while in their store.
However, there have been rumors and information on how they buy the puppies they sell from mills.
30. How do you tell if your dog is from a puppy mill?
There are many telltale signs of a puppy mill dog, but the most common ones include:
- The breeder/seller doesn’t know or doesn’t want to share information on the puppy’s parents.
- They won’t let you see the kennel.
- They offer multiple breeds.
- They don’t require you to sign any papers.
- They offer you puppies that are too young.
- The puppy didn’t get any shots.
31. How to stop puppy mills?
If you were wondering how to help stop puppy mills, the answer is relatively straightforward and simple.
You can become active and join various organizations that push for more regulation and more severe punishment for breeders that abuse animals.
Or, you can simply opt to adopt rather than buy your next puppy. The more people become aware of what goes on behind closed doors at puppy mills, the fewer the pet stores that require their services.
Unfortunately, so many people are drawn into this vicious cycle of massive pet breeding and abuse.
The above-mentioned puppy mill statistics should be more than enough to encourage you to take action and make the right decision. In other words, considering adoption the next time you need a new furry friend.