How to avoid puppy mills

Though it seems simple, avoiding puppy mills takes time and research. The Puppy Mill Rescue Team believes that education is key and we want to share as much information we can on how not to support puppy mills.

First, consider adopting a dog or puppy. Rescues and shelters have all types of dogs including purebreds and mixes, puppies and adults. Check out our rescue page to find a rescue near you!

If considering buying a dog instead, here are a few tips to avoid being tricked by a puppy mill.

A responsible breeder will:

  • Allow you to visit the area puppy and parents live
  • Only breed one type of dog and know the breed well
  • Encourage multiple visits with your entire family to meet the dog
  • Never sell to a pet store or unknow buyers over the internet
  • Has a contract that requires the return of puppy/dog at any point in time during the life of the life if the person cannot keep/care for him
  • Has a guarantee for health and temperament

Signs of a puppy mill include:

  • No requirements to purchase the dog
  • Will not allow you to meet parents of the puppy or let you see the area they live in
  • Has multiple types of puppies for sale or always has puppies available
  • Being able to purchase online or at a pet store
  • They are willing to ship the puppy to you
  • They allow the puppy to leave mom when under 8 weeks

Want more information? Here are some great places to start!

The ASPCA has a great flow chart to help you recognize if you are dealing with a puppy mill or not.

The Humane Society of the United States has an online check list you can use to review a breeder with. provides a list of key words and sayings to look out for in advertisements for dogs.

If you still have questions, email us at

If you are still considering buying from a mill, look at the pictures below. These are the faces of the prisoners who are creating the puppies for pet shops and online retailers. They are lucky ones though, because they have gotten their freedom through the Puppy Mill Rescue Team.