The easiest way to define a puppy mill is a dog breeding facility that places the utmost importance on profits, and little to no importance on the health and safety of its dogs. Unfortunately, there are an estimated 10,000 of these facilities in the United States.
Unsafe Breeding Practices
One hallmark of a puppy mill is that they breed their female dogs every time they can. Female dogs need recovery time after having a litter of puppies. They need at least one or two heat cycles before it is safe for them to have another litter but puppy mills don't wait. Puppy mills usually breed puppies as soon as they come into heat. They also tend to breed female dogs too young.
Unsafe and Unsanitary Conditions
Many puppy mills keep their dogs in cages. They don't give them space to move around. Many times the cages have wire bottoms which can harm dogs if their paws get caught, they are left in cages with their own feces. They don't receive any socialization, which is essential to have happy and emotionally healthy dogs.
Reputable breeders make every reasonable effort to breed the best stock because this produces the highest quality animals. Puppy mills have no regard for breeding quality animals. The only thing they are concerned about is making a sale. As long as the puppies look good enough for someone to buy, that is all they are concerned about.
Buying From A Mill
You may think that if you buy a puppy from a mill, you are "rescuing" the puppy. While this may be true, you are also giving money to the mill, which will only further this ugly cycle. The best way to make sure you aren't buying from a mill is to go to the breeder. Ask to see the puppy, as well as the mother and father. Any reputable breeder won't have a problem showing you where their puppy comes from.
Puppy mills are terrible for dogs as well as the people that purchase the dogs from them.