I have noticed that over the last week, someone (or a few someones) keeps using that search phrase and keeps coming across this blog. Whether you are a friend or foe, I feel as though I must bring some attention to this!
In Winnebago County, IA, there are technically ten breeders that could most definitely fall into the puppy mill category. Not having gone to visit any of these myself, I can only speculate… I shall do so now.
It is my opinion that, since there are only seven actual towns in Winnebago County, that it is the perfect place to have an operation like a puppy mill. It is pretty secluded and right along the Minnesota border! According to various sources, of the seven actual towns in the county (Buffalo Center, Forest City, Lake Mills, Leland, Rake, Scarville, and Thompson) , Leland and Rake are the only two without citizens that could even be considered puppy mill owners. Those aren’t very good odds.
Now that being said, I want to explain to you where my “sources” get their information. Most people who are licensed with the USDA to breed dogs, tend to have conditions that the regular Joe off of the street would find terrible. This is because they have been given permission to breed dogs and then sell them to pet stores. Now, breeders who sell puppies to pet stores must hold a USDA dealer license, and many states also require breeders to obtain a license to have a dog breeding kennel. However, the standards they must follow are little more than simply requiring food, water and shelter for the dogs. It is perfectly legal for a licensed breeder to:
- Own hundreds, or even thousands of dogs
- Keep all dogs in cages for years at a time
- Breed dogs as often as possible, and to churn out as many puppies as possible
These standards set forth by the US government are not meant to make sure that any of these dogs lead a long, happy life; they are meant to impose the only bare minimum of care requirements. That being said, there are only a few inspectors in each state for the hundreds—sometimes thousands- licensed kennels. So you can find names and information about potential mill owners on the USDA website.
Now, because I have been accused of spreading propaganda, I would like to list off a list of things that send up RED FLAGS. Meaning, when you encounter these things, the breeder might more than likely be a puppy mill.
How can you tell the difference between a puppy mill and a “good breeder”?
In order to make money, a puppy mill operates differently than a responsible, humane breeder.
- The Mill Owner has several breeds of dogs for sale at the same time.
- The Mill Owner offers to ship dogs to new owners, without meeting you first.
- The Mill Owner will not allow customers to view their property or kennel. (OR they will, but you can’t see the living quarters of the adults, you are only allowed into the showroom to see the puppies)
- The Mill Owner does not require an application or references from people buying a puppy.
- The Mill Owner does not ask buyers to return the dog or contact them if at any point in the dog’s life if the owners cannot keep the dog.
- The Mill Owner has a very large kennel. Owning fifty to several hundred dogs is typical.
- The Mill Owner breeds females every time they come into heat.
- The Mill Owner is USDA-licensed so they can sell puppies to pet stores. A USDA license is a red flag that a breeder is in the business to make money.
- The Mill Owner does not screen his or her dogs for genetic defects
These are the facts. I am not trying to accuse every breeder of neglecting their dogs, and I am certainly not condemning every breeder in Winnebago to the puppy mill category. If you can honestly, 1000% say that you give each of your dogs the care and love that it needs, then awesome. But if you can’t, then maybe you need to reevaluate your situation. I firmly believe that there are good breeders out there. Breeders that care about each dog and puppy that puts its paws on their property… It is the other breeders that I worry about. Then ones that never let the paws touch the ground.
Again, i welcome any comments on this. Criticism or praise.
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