What is a Puppy Mill? A puppy mill can be large or small, licensed or unlicensed. A puppy mill tries to maximize profit by producing puppies at the lowest cost possible. The enclosures in which the dogs are kept are often too small and not properly sanitized encouraging the spreading of disease. There is little or no vet care provided to the dogs and the females are often bred over and over again until they are too old and weak to keep having litters. The food provided is often low cost and low quality that does not provide the proper nutrition needed for the dogs to thrive. The kennel often lacks a retirement plan and may in fact use convenience euthanasia on non-producing dogs. There is no socialization of adults or puppies, and the dogs have no meaningful interactions with humans or other dogs and lack that critical playtime they need to thrive.
Do the Amish run all the Puppy Mills? Over the years there has been a lot of media coverage about Amish ran Puppy Mills. While there is some truth that SOME Amish do run Puppy Mills, it is very unfair, and some would say bigoted to assume that all Amish who breed dogs run Puppy Mills. The Amish as a culture have deep roots in animal husbandry and are known for raising some of the best cattle and horses in the country. Over the years the Amish community, like everyone else in the dog breeding industry have been quick to adapt to the changing landscape of animal welfare. Many of the Amish who are now involved in dog breeding are younger and come to it with a passion for both the dogs and their welfare. There are Amish breeders in ICAW who have raised multiple AKC Champions and several celebrities have purchased from our breeders based on the tremendous amount of care that our breeders put into their dogs. 95% of ICAW Dog Breeders are Amish and put welfare above all else.
Do all pet stores buy from Puppy Mills? Like any other industry there are good and bad players. Have you ever gone to a franchise restaurant and had an amazing experience? Then you go to another franchise of the same name and have a bad experience? Pet stores are no different. Larger corporations can be exemplary at care while a small one store operation might not meet the standards of care that we expect. Not all pet stores buy from puppy mills and not all breeders who sell to pet stores are puppy mills. it is important that we encourage those who are doing it right by supporting their businesses and not punish them for the bad behavior of their counterparts.
I was told by an AKC Champion Breeder that a good breeder would never sell to a pet store, is that true? This is a very common misconception, the first being that any AKC Breeder represents the positions of the American Kennel Club as an organization. AKC Breeders come from a very broad and diverse range of individuals who all have their own opinions on what is "good" or "bad". Every breeder has the right to their own opinion, however they do not necessarily represent any particular kennel club, unless they are actual employees of that kennel club. The American Kennel Club in their own words do not agree with any pet store ban or that you can't get a good dog from a pet store. Click here to learn more about AKC's Position Pet Choice. Other organizations have made the statement that a good breeder will not sell to pet stores. This is not a belief held across our industry and is typically pushed by radical animal rights organizations. Not all good breeders are great at marketing and dealing with the public, however they are amazing at ethically raising healthy puppies. They often work very close with the pet stores and turn over the very important process of making sure that the puppy is the right fit for a family or individual.
All purchases at a pet store are impulse purchases, right? This isunfortunately another myth perpetuated by animal rights activists seeking to limit consumer choice. While it is true that some people may fall in love with that puppy in the window and make a rash decision to purchase the puppy only regretting it later, most people purchasing a puppy in a pet store know exactly what they are doing and have put some research into their purchase. It is important to note that a good pet store will always have a "buyer's remorse" policy and will take the puppy back within the first few days while refunding the customers money for any reason. Once a "buyer's remorse" phase has ended, a good pet store will still take the dog back to make sure it does not become a burden on the shelter system, often rehoming the dog at significant cost to the pet store.
Once a breeder is done breeding a dog, they often sell them at auctions, to other breeders, or for experimental research, or worse they drown or shoot them. I've heard they never retire the dogs. Is that true? ICAW Breeders must follow a strict code of ethics. They are not allowed to sell the dogs for research or at auction. They are also forbidden from any type of euthanasia that is not directed by their attending vet. Only the attending vet can make the determination for euthanasia and must be solely out of compassion for the suffering animal. Indiana actually had one dog auction still operating and ICAW Leadership pressured the auction to stop the practice in which the auction house complied. The main customers at the auction were actually dog "rescues". They would purchase the dogs at a very low price, use low cost spay and neuter service and then "adopt" the dog out for a very high adoption fee that could range from $500 to $1500 dollars. Often these dogs were used in social media targeting the very breeders they were acquiring their dogs from. Well intentioned or not, these rescues were actually perpetuating the sale of dogs at auction as these breeders typically didn't have another outlet to sell their dogs in. This in turn put the substandard breeders who were selling at the auction out of business as they had exhausted every other outlet. If a breeder is a USDA Licensee, they cannot hide a dog that was euthanized, as every dog is thoroughly tracked and has an exhaustive paper trail. ICAW is very proud of our rehoming efforts. We work directly with a very select group of rehoming professionals to find that perfect forever home once our dogs are retired. Many of our dogs leave their kennels potty trained, leashed trained and ready for their new environment. They are in the prime of their lives and some people prefer not having to go through the puppy stages with their new canine companion. We also make sure that the already overburdened shelter system does not have to use valuable resources on our dogs.
If a breeder breeds for profit, they are a puppy mill, right? Like any other business, a breeder should be breeding for a profit. By being profitable a breeder is able to invest in veterinary care, facility upgrades, high quality, nutrient dense food, and programming that not only meets a dogs physical well-being, but also meets their emotional well-being. Think about how Ludacris the statement is that a breeder should not make a profit. No other business is held to that standard and honestly it is disserving to say that of breeders. Investments in genetic testing, socialization programs, attending veterinarians are all possible because the breeder runs a profitable business. Saying otherwise would mean the breeder couldn't afford these things that are in the best interests of the dogs in their care.