Nearly 700 dogs were seized in the largest puppy mill raid ever in Tennessee. Puppy mills are large scale breeding operations that produce large numbers of puppies under questionable to horrible conditions. They typically raise dogs under intensive conditions, such as in cages in barns. There may be little attention to the quality of parents, with the goal being production of a large number of puppies, not production of healthy, happy and safe household pets. These conditions lead to increased risk of health problems, carriage of infectious diseases that can be transmitted to people and behavioural issues related to lack of proper care, inbreeding, poor veterinary care, lack of socialization with people and little attention to breeding appropriate parents. The high rates of infectious diseases can lead to excessive and inappropriate use of drugs like antibiotics and antivirals. Some puppies receive multiple rounds of drugs while passing through puppy mills and pet stores. Overuse of antibiotics and important antiviral drugs like Tamiflu is a major concern.
Unfortunately, puppy mills (and smaller poor-quality breeding operations) are widespread, especially in some US states. Puppies from these operations can be sent across North America and sold through newspaper ads, internet ads and pet stores.
Puppy mills exist because there is a market for the puppies. I’ve never understood why people often spend incredibly large amounts of money for dogs of questionable background, marginal health and potentially raised in inhumane conditions. Why buy a puppy that might have originated from a puppy mill when you can get a puppy (probably healthier) from a humane society or reputable breeder? Great dogs are awaiting adoption at humane societies. Otherwise, get to know the breeder. Good breeders make sure that their dog is appropriate for you, and you are appropriate for the dog. Places offering multiple breeds, that always have puppies available upon demand and don’t ask a lot of questions about potential buyers are a concern and could indicate that the puppies are being raised in puppy mill-like conditions.