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Posted on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Michigan woman on a mission to end puppy mills everywhere

By Lorrie Shaw


flickr photo courtesy of Bruce McKay

Could you ever envision having your own dog living in a small cage with little or no room to move around, much less an area to defecate, with no contact from humans, nothing enriching or fun to do as a way of life?

Of course not.

But, that is life for a dog in a puppy mill. They lack veterinary care, excercise, a normal life. Sometimes, there are hundreds of canines stacked in small cages side by side, on top of one another.

The noise. The smell. The environment. Can you imagine how it must feel to be in that situation?

So, with Saturday designated as Puppy Mill Awareness Day nationwide, the question is: ‘Why do puppy mills exist?’

Pets are big business; there is a vast consumer demand for dogs — especally designer dogs — and that has created a very lucrative market and has allowed puppy mills to flourish nationwide. A female dog can produce up to four litters per year, and, depending on the breed of dog, litter size can vary. The people who run these facilities capitalize on that, breeding the females as frequently as possible, with no break between litters.

Puppy mills, though they have no legal definition, simply put profits above the welfare of the animals.

Some puppy mill operations are large, others are not so large —  small mills can exist on properties that you wouldn’t suspect. And, some of the individuals who are operating these seedy breeding facilities do so in inconspicuous places, like their own backyards, flying under the radar, so to speak. These are sometimes referred to as ‘mini-mills’.

Puppy mills with upwards of a thousand dogs that you might have read about in the news are rare in our home state; most of what has been discovered in Michigan have been the mini-mills. In fact, the largest puppy mill in Michigan that was discovered and busted housed more than 200 pets, according to Pam Sordyl, with Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup of Southeast Michigan.

But, that doesn’t mean that these small mills are any less of a problem. They are still unethical and need to be weeded out.

“Consumers have a list of requirements, like a specific breed mix that is popular, or that the dog be hypoallergenic, and that is helping to give the the puppy mills a reason to produce more dogs,” remarks Sordyl.

Some of the breeds that are commonly produced by puppy mills are YorkiePoos, Daisy Dogs (various mixes of Shih-tzu/Bischon/Poodle), Puggles, and two that have gained immense popularity in recent years: the Goldendoodle and Labradoodle.

“Pure bred dogs are easy to get because the market has been saturated,” Sordyl adds. “The designer dog market is booming.”

The biggest problem, aside from the awful conditions that these puppy mill dogs are being forced to live in, is the overall well-being of not only the mothers, but the offspring that results from using sick dogs to breed: puppies that are infirm. Disorders can result, usually hereditary, affecting the heart, immune system, the eyes and more.

Illnesses are common; distemper, upper respiratory infections, diarrhea, heartworm, not to mention parvovirus. The ramifications clearly go beyond the physical for some: canines who grow to clearly have behavioral problems due to poor breeding, less-than-ideal husbandry practices and lack of proper socialization.

These puppies are plucked from their dismal living conditions; scared, sometimes too young — and shipped off to pet stores, sold online, or even sold by putting up flyers that we all see on bulletin boards. They're marketed, like a commodity, as sound, loveable pups that are ready to meet their new families.

Many unsuspecting families find themselves in a very difficult situation when their new puppy needs extensive medical care, or worse, when they don’t survive the illness that they are afflicted with. What kind of recourse does a pet owner have in that case? Read more about a proposed Lemon Law to protect pet buyers by clicking here.

A 2009 study done by Puppy Mill Awareness looked at 83 counties in Michigan, and 1,800 kennels were reviewed. Out of 639 confirmed breeding kennels, 25 of them had more than50 dogs. Additionally, 927 facilities were ‘unclassified’: private kennels, and it’s not known what activity is occuring. (Some may be a household with several dogs who find it more cost-effective to apply for a kennel lisense, rather than individual dog licenses.)

There are five licensed commercial kennels in the state of Michigan.

Some of the licensed breeding kennels have been involved in animal abuse or seizure cases, often with 50 or more dogs in each kennel.

Puppy mills in the state of Michigan can sometimes escape the boundaries of the regulations in some counties due to loopholes in the law. For example, in Barry County, one case alleged that one registered kennel had 10 more dogs than the 140 dogs that they were allowed. The problem is that they actually had 232 canines in total — 82 of those being puppies under 16 weeks old.

Dogs in that county that are under 4 months of age are not counted under provisions of the permit that was issued to the facility. You can see how easy it can be for instances like this one to slip through the cracks. Zoning laws in some outlying areas are more lax, making it easier for these unscrupulous breeders to keep things under wraps.

The ability to go unnoticed doesn’t always pan out for some. In 2010, 31 whippets were seized in Washtenaw County that were believed to be part of a backyard breeding operation. An anonymous tip helped that case.

Prospective pet owners can be empowered to not only avoid buying a dog from a puppy mill, but to be the eyes and ears — an advocate for these animals with a few simple guidelines:

  • If you see activity that you think might be suspicious, contact animal control, as well as your local zoning department to see if a faciliity is cleared to operate in that capacity. Local police, and of course the Cruelty and Rescue Department of the Humane Society Huron Valley are also there to help.
  • Don’t buy from pet stores, or from online sources. Some pet stores are actually supplied by puppy mills, and with an online source, it’s easy for people to pawn off puppies born into less-than-desirable situations. In most cases, pet stores will not (and do not have to) disclose information about where the puppy got its start. As Sordyl says, “Adopt, don’t shop! There are so many homeless pets, who are quite wonderful, that are waiting at your local shelter.”
  • If you want a pure-bred, Sordyl gives sage advice: If you can’t see the parents of the puppies, that’s questionable. Responsible breeders come highly recommended and are usually more than happy to show off the parents — and normally legislate their clients carefully.

Sordyl, who is director of Puppy Mill Awareness, says that the grassroots effort to end puppy mills is growing. She started the meetup about three years ago and a group of 60-75 people are active online, with 40 or so who are active in-person regularly, conducting “Adopt, Don’t Shop!” demonstrations outside pet stores that are supplied by puppy mills, and educating the public through other outlets, like social media.

By writing letters, talking constructively with pet store owners — even trying to get them to opt for holding pet adoption events instead, she has been successful: a handful of stores in Michigan have pledged to not sell puppies, including those in the Ann Arbor area.

Sordyl is also part of the National Puppy Mill Project.

For information on Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup, including becoming a member, click here.

Lorrie Shaw is lead pets blogger for Catch her daily pet adventures or email her directly.



Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

Does this surprise anyone? How do you think tropical fish stores get tanks full of Neon Tetras? Surely not from the clear water streams of South America where they originated! Forced breeding of animals is considered "normal" in our society. Why don't we just outlaw the commercial breeding of any animals and only allow it to happen in the private environment. If you want an animal go get a rescue animal.

dog heros

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

Forced breeding???? Another problem that people that know nothing about raising animals are trying to dictate to people who are the experts on what is normal. Have you ever seen a female in the 2-3 day period in the approx 23 day cycle she will stand for a dog? Have you ever seen her on the other days when the male is wanting but she will have nothing to do with him? Forced breeding..........NOT.........just another animal rights misinformation to further lies.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 10:28 p.m.

If all you got from the article was that female dogs can or cannot have 4 liters a year, your an idiot. The point of the article is to make the public aware of the atrocities in puppy mills. Does the article say all breeders are bad and corrupt? No. Does the article say all breeders should be stopped? No. What the article does say is that as consumers, we need to be aware of where our pets are coming from. Didn't Americans unite to boycott companies that used child labor? Why is so difficult to see that these dogs are in deplorable conditions and that puppy mills and irresponsible backyard breeders need to be stopped? If these people provided adequate accommodations for their breeding stock, this wouldn't be an issue. Educate yourself. Watch rescues conducted by th ASPCA, the north shore animal league and other rescue groups. What they find is disgusting and heart breaking. Imagine never touching solid ground or grass. Never feeling a kind hand or the wind in your hair. Imagine being covered in filth and not having enough food. Imagine you were a puppy mill dog. If a human being was kept in these conditions, people would form mobs and make sure this was stopped. Why can't we do the same for mill dogs? Ghandi said that the greatness of a nation can be assessed by how it treats it's animals....can't we be a great nation that cares mire about lives than the bottom line and the all mighty dollar?

dog heros

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

For some groups the raids are big business for shelter groups especially if they get ratings. I know for a fact that many of the videos are staged for the purpose of making money. Shelters usually take videos after a raid and after they have kept dogs confined so long they poop in their kennel and after the raiders have trudged in dirt to mix with overturned water bowls looking like feces. Then the raiders submit their video and scripts to the media who blindly reads it and donations come flowing in. These dogs that were in such deplorable conditions are usually up for sale in a couple of days bringiing in more money and then they present the raided owner a bill for inflated boarding costs. Videos don't show how much attention these dogs get, it is just words spoken by people that have a motive, MONEY.

dog heros

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

The problem with incorrect information is that it is used to further negative images. Describing 'puppy mills' as females being bred back to back their whole lives and saying they can have 4 litters in a year is a much more horrible picture than the truth which is about one litter a year with a 6 - 8 month rest period in between IF someone does breed back to back. Unfortunately the bad kennels are used by animal rights to imply that all large kennels are like the bad ones based on number of dogs and even scarier is that those large numbers to describe bad kennels are quoted as lower and lower by animal rights which now in many places include people that have litters that are in no way shape or form a business. These lower and lower numbers are encompassing more and more people whose hobby is a sport with their dogs. These lower and lower numbers defining non-businesses as business are forcing people who breed to preserve their breed for the true love of the breed out of existence.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

Wow. I'm amazed that the comments about the "facts" seem to be rampant. Where are the naysayers reputable sources? The article is not ant breeding at's anti puppymill and backyard breeders. Doesn't the article mention what to look for in a breeder? Someone commented that thousands of dogs are bought to the US annually? Really? Where is this happening exactly as I have NEVER seen this mentioned on the news. As for the comment that says Ms Shaw is making puppy mills seem like the imaginary boogey man, watch some of the documentaries or rescues done by reputable rescue groups and tell me that all of the mistreatment and abuses in puppy mills don't exist. The naysayers comments are probably written by mill owners and backyard breeders.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

The importation of puppies from other countries is a well documented fact and an impending public health concern. Puppies in third world countries while abundant, clearly have the capability of spreading diseases not often seen here in the US. The issue I believe, is not in the lack of dogs available to potential adopters, but in the lack of desirable dogs, meaning &quot;puppies&quot;. Kind of makes you wonder about the values we teach our children, don't you think? Those same puppies will become the cast off adults of the future, since these puppies often have behavior issues that are difficult, if not impossible to manage. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The northern states also import dogs from the southern states to help with the redistribution of stray dogs. The southern states seem to have a more casual attitude towards dog ownership then those of us in this part of the county. It's a complex issue that will not be solved by finger pointing or blaming. I think if you do a web search you should be able to find plenty of information on both practices.

Vet Barmes

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

It is clear that animal rights groups such as HSUS and PeTA do not want you to own any animal or eat meat. But the majority of people do want animals in their lives and do eat meat. It is well known that the human body needs VB12 in the active form found in meat. There is an inactive form that comes from some plants, but it does not perform any function in the body. This new philosophy of equating animals with humans puts our own species at risk. The human body can make its own VB12 for a few years and then it will crash. Since each person's body is different this causes a misperception of health when inside your organs are slowly dying. This new philosophy about the role of animals fosters a false assumption that humans do not need to eat meat. We don't need to over eat, but infants, pregnant women and growing children need this protein and without it they will be permanently damaged, if not dead. Without VB12 your brain does not think rationally and we witness this daily in this move to remove animals from our food chain and use. Facts are facts and the philosophy being used to promote the exaggerated myths surrounding puppy mills is reckless and dangerous to our entire society, if not the children who are our future. This woman is out to designate the responsible breeder as a mini-mill clearly a negative term with no basis in fact. It is a direct attempt to end all breeding despite the fact that 12 million people look to replace their pet every year. As for finding a healthy dog from a shelter you are completely out of luck as they have no return policies. As a vet I am tired of the these so called rescue groups scamming the public into believing that a wild dog makes a good pet. Far from it especially these animals they bring in from Puerto Rico, Thailand and China where rabies is rampant and tropical parasites abound that can cause blindness or death in children. IT is the greedy animal rights groups who are the problem. Soon there will be no more pets.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

To link PETA and humane societies is absurd. The former are over the top zealots who, with their outlandish tactics, actually accomplish little except alienation of possibly sympathetic others from otherwise worthy goals. Humane societies ( which are mostly independent of each other) are doing &quot; in the trenches&quot; daily actual allevaiting of suffering....and our local one , the HS-huron Valley, is the best in the state and one of the best nationally. They have no official position whatsoever on 'meat eating&quot; ( and wouldnt ,since they feed their animals with standard meat-based pet products).

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

Barnes, I don't see where anyone stated that responsible breeders are mini-mills, nor where it was inferred that all breeding should stop. Ethical breeders are certainly needed, no doubt, and I respect their efforts. In order to keep healthy, strong bloodlines alive and well is key. Thanks for your input.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

I am a huge proponent to end Missouri's largest puppy mill abusiveness ever. The voters passed a really great law a year ago November to end the abusive treatment of dogs in puppy mills only to have it gutted by corrupted politicians in their house. The owners of puppy mills pretty much bought their way out of having to do what this law stated they needed to do before this law came into effect. Now I am using Facebook to tell Missouri politicians you and everyone else can't override what the voters said needed to be done. Now ASPCA wants you to go and sign the petition, even if you are outside this state to sign and tell them no. For every cause that ASPCA has, I vent on Facebook. Trust you me, I am using my computer to get rid of and puppy mills. O by the way, the pet store on Ecorse, in Ypsilanti? Is a huge puppy mill distributor. Been cited numerous times. Glad to hear someone else is doing the same. Thank you for this article.

Marilyn Wilkie

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

In reading these comments it appears to me that there are a lot of dog breeder/sellers on here who are worried that their cash cow may go away. Why aren't they turning their anger toward the puppy mills that Ms. Shaw is talking about instead of her?

John Q

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 7:56 a.m.

It's a not so uncommon occurence that children fear the Bogeyman who lives in the dark beneath the steps leading to basement. Turn on the light switch, though, and the bogeyman disappears. Preying upon such fears, borne of ignorance, by purveyors of fiction in the genre of horror can be quite profitable. A well-known example would be Author Stephen King. Just enough reality to keep the reader interested and then jumping off into flights of fantasy which send a &quot;thrill up ones leg&quot;. Ms Shaw's Bogeyman is not just hanging out in the dark. He is breeding dogs beneath your basement stairs, as well. The citations she offers are steeped more in science fiction than hard biological facts. Hardly reputable sources, but rather cybernetic shills supported by organizations claiming to be of a charitable nature, yet under close review by the IRS. A review which is about to uncover a disgraceful scam of an unwitting, yet empathetic public. Her references are postings on the internet which do not fare well under scrutiny by scientific authorities holding reputable credentials. ANY breed of dog which cycles through estrus four times a year would be a veterinary novelty destined to be described in a worthy journal of scholastic note, not in an obscure footnote cast out in cyberspace. The wise reader would not believe that Stephen King's &quot;Cujo&quot; truly existed if back up references were given citing the publication of Mary Shelley's &quot;Frankenstein&quot;, or would they?

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

No sort of Bogeyman, in the least, John Q. Reputable sources provided the facts, albeit a minute part of the post. The truth is, mini-mills do exist in Michigan. They have been discovered and reported on. The point of the piece was puppy mills, and one individual's effort to change what she sees to be a problem. The fact that they exist is certainly something to seriously consider.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 7:09 a.m.

The anti-breeding hysteria here is truly disgusting. To the author and some of the commentors, all breeders are so-called &quot;mills&quot; and need to be stopped. One commentor even suggested banning all breeding for 10 years (probably permanently if that person had their way). That is just one generation for most breeds of dogs....way to see them go extinct! We already have &quot;rescues&quot; importing thousands of dogs into the US each year to meet the demand for pets. Some areas of the US, like the New England states, have shortages of adoptable dogs and need to import them. Puppies are smuggled into the US by the hundreds of thousands each year. Plenty of documentation about that online. Look for the ABC news article from 2007 &quot;300,000 imported dogs raise rabies concerns&quot;. Sick dogs don't sell; and many states have &quot;puppy lemon laws&quot; to protect consumers who purchase a sick animal. However, lemon laws do not protect you from a sick shelter animal or an imported dog with rabies or parasites. Now, how about a little biology lesson here. Dogs are technically considered to be a subspecies of the grey wolf (&quot;Canis lupus 'familiaris'). Wolves only have ONE litter per year, in the spring. Domestic dogs, however, often are able to have more than one litter per year....but only because the conditions are favorable. Food is plentiful and with the veterinary care most dogs receive they are in excellent health. Their reproductive cycles have shortened a bit to less than a year....usually about every 8-9 months. Some of the more primitive breeds maintain a once per year cycle. But there is no way any breed has four litters in a year! That is just absurd. It's about as believable as thinking that we have those bogey men &quot;puppy mills&quot; on every corner.

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Lassie, I never stated that breeding needed to be stopped. I simply interviewed an individual who is active in addressing an issue that she finds troubling and presented documented facts. As far as mini-mills on every corner, no one suggested that, but they do exist in Washtenaw county. They have been reported on and prosecuted. Once again, I just presented some facts. Thanks for your input!


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

Take a look at what China is doing. ASPCA International stopped a truck load of dogs that where headed to the slaughter house. These were someones pet that was taken out of their yards. Documented on ASPCA website. They were saved and returned or adopted to other loving families. Chihuahuas were flown to New York to be adopted from San Francisco where there were too many of them. ASPCA flies these animals to where they are most adoptable. I also feel if you get a sick animal, why return it? Have the owner help pay for its recovery. Otherwise that animal is destined to be euthanized. Sad but true. We did get a rather sick puppy. But you know what? We took it to the vet, took care of and did not ask anyone for money to heal it. You get what you pay for and as for animals coming into this country? I haven't heard anything about that one. Need to check it out on ASPCA website and snopes.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 4:21 a.m.

Wow! I'm appalled! Almost half the comments are complaints about &quot;accuracy&quot; and &quot;fact-checking&quot;. Some breeds CAN have that many litters a year, but that isn't even the issue or topic of this article! Puppy mills are inhumane and if you want a specific breed you can go online and find them without resorting to breeders. I wanted a cattle dog so I went online and found someone that went to all the &quot;kill shelters&quot; in the area and adopted all the cattle dogs she could and set up a &quot;cattle dog rescue website&quot;. She and others like her make a huge effort in helping people find the kind of pets they want and lessening the crowd at shelters. Why so many posters feel the need to nit-pick at irrelevant details of these articles never fail to amaze me (and disappoint me, our society has become so negative!)

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

Did you find that there are a lot of breed-specific rescues, Kathryn? That's an interesting concept. What are the rescues seeing as far as numbers of breed-specific pets being available?


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

I'm always amazed at the outcry people have over stories such as these. For all you meat eaters, do you not realize that the conditions that most &quot;farm&quot; animals have to put up with are infinitely worse than these? It's time to wake up. If you want to denounce cruelty, denounce it fully. Otherwise, keep your hypocritical statements to yourself.

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

You bring up an interesting point of view, Mike. Thanks for your two cents.

John Q

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

And you?! Munching on the unborn young of defenseless soybeans? Slaughtering heads of Romaine lettuce that can't fight back or run from danger? Pick on something in your own kingdom, Eat rocks!


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

The author did not check her facts. Talk to a vet. It might be possible for a bitch to cycle 3 times, but NOT to have 4 litters a year. Lets look at the math. There are 12 months in a year. Jan 1 the bitch comes in season. It takes 10- 14 days before she can get bred. so Jan 10 she is bred. 63 days later she has her puppies. That puts it at about march 10. Pups must be nursed and raised by mom for 8 weeks. No female canine ever comes in season while nursing pups and the uterus must have time to recover from whelping. So we are at May 10 at least for pups to be raised. The bitch will need at least 1 to 2 more months before the uterus is ready and come in season again. At the earliest, and highly highly likely she would come in season again in June. Then end of june get bred, have pups end of Aug and not be ready again for breeding before December. This will NOT happen. No female would come in season 4 times a year or have 4 litters a year. Physically and numerically impossible!! Period. A female possibly could come in season 3 times a year if she came in Jan 1, June 30 and Dec 30 - 1 in a billion chance of that. So please do your research a little better before writing some emotional dribble against &quot;puppy mills&quot;. commercial breeders ARE inspected by state licensed authorities, they do have to provide vet care and no dog would ever reproduce profitably if they were kept in the horrible conditions you discuss. Their bodies would not survive malnutrition, lack of fresh air, exercise, water, etc and they would not come in season or whelp puppies. I do not support large scale breeding for myself, but there is nothing illegal about it, those breeders pay their taxes and license fees and they are entitled under American law to make a living. Stop humanizing animals and using junk science


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Got to ASPCA website. They cite fact after fact on the sad state of affairs the Missouri Puppy Millers do to their animals. Might not want to be sober after you get to the end.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

What a joke this post is. It's obvious you don't know the first thing about these organizations. Inspection by state authorities? You gotta be kidding me. I worked at a puppy mill for four years, and the conditions described here aren't the half of it. And if you think someone being entitled to do something under law suggests morality, I would encourage you to reexamine the civil rights movement.

Deborah Stoll

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

&quot;A female dog can produce up to four litters per year and depending on the breed of dog, litter size can vary.&quot; Really?? I have literally been &quot;in dogs&quot; for 50 years. My parents were breeders of small dogs, mine are somewhat larger. I have never, in that 50 year time frame known a female to cycle every 3 months. However, given that Ms. Shaws sources were correct and it is physiologically possible for one of the Toy breeds to come in heat that often, I still highly doubt that 4 litters a year would be feasible. Think about it. A normal heat cycle is 3 weeks, ovulation is around day 10, gestation from ovulation is 63 days. The puppies are born, cared for and need to be weaned before the female can again cycle. Based on my calculations the female would need to ditch her puppies at around week 2 to come in season and then start over... repeatedy, to make that 4 litter a year statistic a reality. Not likley; and not all souces are correct. As someone else pointed out in earlier comments, the best breeders will &quot;not&quot; have both parents on site. I spend a great deal of time, effort and money to select a sire with the correct combination of health, working ability and looks to compliment the female I will be breeding. That selection often means that the sire of my litters may not only be many states away, they may not even be in the same country. When I educate people who are looking for a puppy, one of the red flags I discuss is a breeder who has both parents on the premises. In my mind this signifies someone who is doing a breeding of convience, rather then a breeding to further to goals of the individual breeding program, what ever those may be. No one supports puppy mills, good breeders least of all. However, there are some outstanding people out there working hard to breed good, healthy dogs with solid temperaments. While I would never discourage anyone from adopting through rescue or your local shelter, a pure bred dog sho

Deborah Stoll

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

The sentance in question is: If you can't see the parents of the puppies, that's questionable. I appreciate that this is a quote from another individual, but &quot;to see&quot; in my book, means direct visualization. I expect that that would be the common understanding by most people. If I breed my female to a male 1/2 way across the country you are not going to see hm. You can certainly learn about him, see his pictures, perhaps some videos and even speak to his owner, but you most certainly won't see him. At the very least, the sentance is misleading. At the worst you are directing people towards the very people your arguing against buying puppies from.

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

Deborah, Please read the post again: it did not state that the sire and dam should be on the same premises. &quot;If you want a pure-bred, Sordyl gives sage advice: If you can't see the parents of the puppies, that's questionable. Responsible breeders come highly recommended and are usually more than happy to show off the parents — and normally legislate their clients carefully.&quot; My guess is that the owner of the sire wold be equally proud to tout the quality of their dog, given the chance. After all, they are one half of the equation, so to speak. Isn't part of dealing in puppies from good stock being able to give verifiable info about the stud to clients? Thanks for speaking up!

Eric Johnson

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

Ms Shaw: If you had invested time in fact checking, you'd have found this statement.... &quot;Small breeds tend to cycle more regularly than the larger breeds. Three and occasionally four heat cycles per year can be normal in some females.&quot; Implying that this is indeed rare rather than normal. Each pregnancy would take 62 days plus the time needed to at least raise the puppies through weaning. This would require more time in a year than 4 cycles could allow. This aside from the fact that your very own citation implies that this is rare. Further, I would run from any breeder that has both the female and the male. I want to buy a puppy from a breeder that took time and effort to produce the best breeding possible...even if it meant shipping the bitch cross-country to get to the best male possible. Any breeder who has both the male and female and routinely breeds them is exactly the kind of breeder I wouldn't go near.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:34 a.m.

What's wrong with puppy mills? I'd rather have a 4week old puppy from a mill than a 1 year old from an abused home. Sign me up for the Mill dog every day of the week. Like I care about the habitats of the bitch. If puppy mills were so bad, the government would have shut them down a long time ago.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Part of the problem with &quot;mill&quot; dogs is that they may be genetically deficient. Very often they have significant health problems. There is no way for potential owners to verify the health of the parents.

Lorrie Shaw

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

joe: You raise a valid point, that dogs who are unable to live in a family's midst because of their serious behavioral issues, especially aggression, should not. I agree. It's not safe. I do wonder about the objectivity of some rescues when placing dogs that they have brought into their organization: Are they able to honestly and effectively evaluate canines that have behavioral issues that they are considering for adoption? Do the people who are considering adopting from these organizations know what they are doing? The answer that I see firsthand, is &quot;yes&quot; - mostly. In rescuing dogs, one has to look at many facets of the prospect., and in this day and age, where there seem to be more and more abused animals, one can only hope that everyone, and every organization is being honest with themselves. So, those who are considering a re-homed dog need to ask really good questions, and have some good knowledge themselves about dogs. I know that there are lots of dogs that have been in dire situations and that have successfully been &quot;rehabilitated&quot;, if you will, by highly qualified behaviorists/trainers where HSHV is concerned. They do a great job, and best of all, they are honest with themselves about whether or not a dog that comes to them can be placed successfully in appropriate homes. Your concerns are absolutely valid - especially where dogs and kids are concerned - and everyone ought to have that mindset. If you're not sure that a dog that has had some abuse issues previously can't be re-homed successfully, you might want to check out the success stories that HSHV has helped to facilitate. As always, thanks for the thoughtful engagement. It's valued.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 10:42 a.m.

It's interesting to see so much fervor over this issue. It's almost like most of the people who care about this have never seen real human pain (my biggest point on your articles). I'm not pro-mill, but at the same time, if I need a dog for my kids and can't find someone who's giving away unwanted puppies, then I'd choose a mill dog everyday over a shelter dog. Sorry, but no matter who many crazy dog person tears a beat doberman pinscher gets, that created monster is not getting anywhere near my kids. Where I grew up, they didn't take chances with abused animals, they were put down fast and with a gun. The abuser still got the full punishment of the law, but there wasn't this gamble with the dogs that nice abused animals can still make good pets. So, give me the non-abused puppy mill dog.

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

joe - You actually bring up some interesting points. 1.) There are so many abused dogs: Why is this still happening? and 2.) Why the puppy mills haven't been shut down. In the latter point surely, it's like a lot of things. Perhaps it's the concept of the lack of regulation, as well as federal, state and local municipalities not having the same rules. I do appreciate you bringing that up, as I do all of your comments.

Pam Sordyl

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Thank you Lorrie for covering such an important topic. Two-thirds of U.S. households have companion animals, so this is something near and dear to many families. With one Michigan puppy chain alone selling 100 puppies a month in the Detroit area, people are bound to know someone that has been a victim. I see many victims in the pet trade. Most often I meet families who have been traumatized by losing their new pet and then left burried in emergency vet visit bills. Often times I do get to meet the puppies with illnesses- the survivors, usually very lucky to have found a home. I rarely meet the breeding dogs themselves. This is why I worry so much. There are so many hidden in basements, barns, shacks, sheds, ..'prisons' that we can only worry about. Since Michigan doesn't have a huge concentration of mega mills as Missouri and Iowa, many people just don't know. Hopefully, this Lemon Law will shine a big light on those leaving man's best friend in the dark.

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Radical thought. Outlaw all breeding of pets for profit for a 10 year period. There are enough unloved and unwanted pets in this country already. Make pet adoption the only way to obtain a pet. So called &quot;hobby breeders&quot; are in it for the money. Their dogs often end up in humane societies and with breed rescue organizations as well as those from puppy mills. They do not require that their dogs be neutered or spayed. I know post this will anger many, but so be it.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

I bought my Alaskan Malamute from a reputable breeder, who had me sign a contract that I would have her spayed.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

That is why you should never purchase a pet at a pet super store.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

We have one rescue and one from a woman who was a responsible breeder. Otherwise, don't ever adopt a rescue. Why? Because they will love you forever and then you will realize how much they know they are in a forever home. Will adopt another rescue when it comes time. Cherry Hill Humane Society has some lovelies looking for a forever home.

Dottie Everett

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

&quot;A female dog can produce up to four litters per year, and, depending on the breed of dog, litter size can vary. The' I'd like to know what female dog could produce 4 litters per year!!!! the author of this article needs to check out All of her so called facts! some bitches do come into heat 2 times a year, many come in every 9 months so a bitch will produce ONE litter per year, or maybe 2 in 18 months. Check it out with any veterinarian.

Lorrie Shaw

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

Dottie: I thoroughly fact checked everything in writing this post; I pride myself on that. Most females come into heat every six months (and season doesn't bear anything on inducing it), yes. However, according to two reliable sources, canines can have an estrous cycle four times per year, and as I understand it, small breed dogs have more of a predisposition to do that. Ironically enough, as I discovered in my research, that is what most puppy mills specialize in - toy and small breed dogs. They're popular, compact, and easier for those dealing with the puppy mills to transport, of course. Here's an additional link that you might find interesting: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Ann Dwyer

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> This link from the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition says that certain breeds can have 4 litters a year.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

It makes me sick to hear about people spending hundreds of dollars for some designer, toy dog when so many animals are homeless or in shelters looking for homes.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Quite frankly, female dogs are NOT capable of producing 4 litters a year. Female dogs generally have 2 estrus cycles a year, approximately 6 months apart, although this can vary by a month or so. Regardless, four litters a year is simply not medically nor scientifically possible. &quot;Backyard breeder&quot; is something that is often also misconstrued. Many very responsible hobby breeders do NOT have kennel facilities but rather choose to raise their dogs in their homes. Not every breeder is a puppy mill nor a backyard breeder. Not all breeders are going to have both parents on site. Many responsible breeders will use outside males - often from great distances - who most complement their female, and do so to improve the breed. The sire will often NOT be available for the puppy buyer to meet. Numerous responsible breeders have websites, and there is nothing wrong with that. Responsible breeders have the duty to provide healthy pets - and responsible breeders do this. Puppy buyers have the duty to research their purchases.

Lorrie Shaw

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

ap: From my research for this post, yes, there are some bitches that can have an estrous cycle up to four times per year. So, it's totally possible for as many litters to be produced. Canines typically have their estrous cycles biannually - but that is not set in stone. In fact, as I understand it, some large/giant breed dogs might come into heat less often, maybe every 16-18 months. Comparatively, there's been some talk that if a dog is a small or toy breed, they are typically the ones who are used in puppy mills. Here's a couple of reputable links to refer to: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Thanks for your comments.