Puppy Farms Are a Form of Animal Cruelty

Animal Cruelty

The month of April is designated as prevention of cruelty to animals month. There are numerous types of animal cruelty.  In this post we discuss puppy farms or puppy mills.

Puppy Farms or Mills as a Form of Animal Cruelty


puppy farms

Courtesy USHS

You have probably heard the term “puppy mills” pretty often.  But do you really know and understand what puppy farms and puppy mills are? What about the origination of puppy mills?  Jessica Remitz writing for Pet 360 offers this insight.

Puppy mills came into existence in the U.S. after World War II, Menkin said, as an opportunity for farmers to make money in the face of widespread failures. As pet store owners began to realize their business would increase as a result of putting puppies in their windows, the demand for puppies increased rapidly, causing them to turn to these farmers on a regular basis for their animals. Unfortunately, the conditions under which puppies were bred and being raised at these facilities was often mediocre at best.

‘At that time, they were converting old fridges and rabbit cages into dog crates and frames,” Menkin said. “These farmers were encouraged by the USDA to raise puppies as a cash crop … and were doing it by decreasing their overhead costs and increasing their profit.’

As time went on, the demand for pet store puppies continued to rise, keeping puppy mills across the country in business from the 1940s through today. While there is no legal definition of a puppy mill, the ASPCA defines puppy mills as “any commercial breeding facility that puts profit ahead of the wellbeing of the dog,” Menkin said. Because such facilities have been successful, the conditions under which many dogs live in at puppy mills continues to be less than ideal.

‘Dogs are kept in overcrowded conditions, with tiny cages stacked on top of each other and wire flooring that can be detrimental to their paws,” she said. “Females are bred at every heat cycle to make as much money as possible and produce as many puppies as possible.’

Unfortunately the puppy “farming industry” has only increased.  If you want to learn more we encourage you to visit the National Mill Dog Rescue website as well as their Face Book page. The video posted below gives you a bird’s eye view of the horror and the transformation.

Puppy Farms in North Carolina

Lest you think the state of North Carolina is immune from this shameful condition of puppy farms, think again.

Here’s a video of 300 dogs and puppies rescued in Caldwell County in June 2011.

In February 2013, more than 60 dogs were rescued in Sampson County.  In October 2013 more than 100 dogs and other animals were rescued in Pender County, North Carolina. The Humane Society of the US along with local and nearby organizations participated in the rescue. In November 2013 more than 40 dogs and 75 other animals (horses, cats, mini-horses, bunnies and chickens) were rescued from a puppy farm or puppy mill and cruelty site in Gates County.

In March 2014, a similar story with 60 dogs, this time in Hertford County.  A similar situation in Iredell County was addressed in March 2014.  The HSUS, Iredell County Animal Services, Guilford County Animal Shelter, Iredell County Sheriff’s Department and Humane Society of Iredell County rescued these 55 dogs.

In June 2014 over 50 dogs and puppies were rescued from a puppy mill or puppy farm operation in Rutherford County.

In October 2014 the USHS, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Iredell County Animal Services, Cashiers Highlands Humane Society  and Humane Society of Charlotte participated in a rescue of more than 50 dogs and cats from an internet seller in Rutherford County.

We’ve barely touched the surface with these facts, but we think you get the picture.  So what can we do about puppy farms you might ask.

  • Educate, advocate and legislate
  • Educate yourselves and others with the power of this information
  • Make sure that folks know not to buy from a “breeder” that ships their dogs
  • Be wary of pretty internet sites of happy puppies frolicking across green meadows
  • Be aware that a license from the USDA does not indicate a quality operation
  • Be aware that registration with the American Kennel Club does not necessarily mean the seller is a reputable breeder
  • Be aware that breeders who love one or two dog breeds and breed them to better the breed typically lose money, not make a profit
  • Explore the local shelters, local rescue organizations and breed specific rescue organizations when you want to add a dog to your family
  • Be aware that shelters often have full breed dogs of all ages available
  • If you are insistent that you buy from a breeder, fully explore their background and qualifications, visit the kennel and ask to see the male and female parents
  • Be aware that reputable breeders will have you sign a contract agreeing to return the dog if you decide not to keep it
  • Please choose to adopt
  • Get to know Harley and get to know #HarleysDream
  • Get to know Lil Olive, Lee, the One and Only, Nori the Iggy, Leo Puppy Mill Survivor and Sophie the Shy Mill Girl
  • Meet Teddy, Zoie, Harley Jr and Princess Ava Bisou
  • Visit Safehaven Small Breed Rescue
  • Checkout NC Voters for Animal Welfare to educate yourselves on how local and state politicians feel, act and vote on matters regarding animal welfare
  • Contact your local, state and federal officials and legislators and be the voice for the animals

Beth Leatherman Harwell is one of the owners of a Lake Norman area pet sitting business, Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC.  She owns and operates the pet sitting business along with her husband, Billy Harwell.  Beth is a retired licensed clinical social worker and Billy is retired from the USAF.  Together, they coddle your pets when you cannot.


Happy National Puppy Day

 National Puppy Day

National Puppy Day is March 23

All the puppies we have ever known seemed to think that every day was made to celebrate them and that every day was National Puppy Day.  And why not???they are so adorable!!!  If a puppy has recently joined your family please be sure to enjoy those early weeks and months. Soon… they will be a distant memory as those sweet pups mature.

To make certain you are meeting your puppy’s needs take a look at this checklist we have adapted from multiple sources.

  • Take your puppy to the vet of your choice within 48 hours of bringing him home. It’s important to get your puppy started on appropriate vaccines beginning around 6 weeks. This link provides a list of area vets.


  • trooper in the woods

    Trooper on the trail

    Ask your vet for recommendations about flea, tick and heart worm preventives. When we adopted Trooper he was heart worm positive. Going through treatment was painful for Trooper and for us. Treatment is always painful for dogs. Heart worm medicine used for dogs is not safe for cats. Heart worm prevention is key.


  • Consult with your vet about the optimum age to have your cats and dogs spayed or neutered. Irresponsible owners allow unplanned and unwanted litters to be produced daily. The only way to prevent pet overpopulation and the resultant high rate of pets being euthanized is to have your cats and dogs fixed. Just do it!!!


  • Take your puppy to new puppy classes. Seek a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a list of positive reinforcement trainers we recommend.



  • National Puppy Day

    Dirty Trooper in the dog shower

    Learn what grooming requirements are necessary for your puppy. Matted fur is very uncomfortable for your pup. You can do routine maintenance at home by brushing your dog every few days. Some dogs can easily be groomed at home but others do better with the services of a professional dog groomer.


  • Be realistic about house training. It’s not a quick process. Set yourself and your puppy up for success and be prepared for a full year of close and careful management. Remember that a puppy can generally “hold it” one hour for every month of age. If you work be sure to enlist the help of a neighbor, relative or your local professional pet sitter. The minimal cost at this stage will save you money in the long run and prevent misery for your pup.


  • Provide toys for your puppy and interact often to build that all important bond.

Choose Adoption

The primary reason we celebrate National Puppy Day is to promote the adoption of orphaned, owner surrendered or homeless puppies and to make the public aware of what puppy mills are. We encourage you to adopt from your local shelter or rescue organization or from a breed specific rescue organization.  If you choose to buy your puppy please buy from a reputable breeder.

A reputable breeder does not ship their puppies and does not advertise on Craig’s List or similar outlets.  A reputable breeder will not breed the female dog every heat cycle. A reputable breeder will have one or both of the parents on site, will know the health history, will test the puppy for vision and other health issues and will provide adequate veterinary care for the dogs and puppies.

To learn more about puppy mills please visit the National Mill Dog Rescue.