What Is A Puppy Mill?

A puppy mill is any dog breeding facility that values profit above animal welfare. One court case, Avenson v. Zegart, cites a puppy mill as “a dog breeding operation in which the health of dogs is disregarded in order to maintain low overhead and maximize profit.”

No. There are many reputable dog breeders in Iowa. Unfortunately, the large number of puppy mills has resulted in all Iowa dog breeders being lumped together and an entire industry tainted. Not all dog breeders are puppy mills, but all puppy mills will claim to be reputable breeders.

No. Many puppy mills are legal, licensed businesses.

The lack of laws, regulations, and enforcement, at both the federal and state level, have allowed puppy mills to flourish throughout Iowa.

Iowa also does not have state oversight of federally licensed commercial dog breeders and dealers. While the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) registers these facilities, Iowa code only allows IDALS inspectors the ability to inspect a federally licensed facility upon a complaint. This has not been sufficient to address and keep puppy mills out of Iowa. The United States Department of Agriculture has also significantly rolled back documentation and enforcement, essentially failing to ensure commercial dog breeders and dealers are in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This has left dogs and puppies at risk and without adequate protection.

Dogs and puppies — animals considered pets and members of our families — are not treated as such in puppy mills. Adult breeding dogs often endure lives without adequate food, water, shelter, space to move and run, vet care, and socialization.

Puppy mill puppies, born and raised in such inhumane conditions, suffer during critical developmental stages often resulting in lifelong behavioral issues, including dominance-type aggression, social fears, and separation-related barking. Overbreeding and a lack of genetic and health testing of adult breeding dogs within puppy mills also result in puppies with genetic defects. And the puppies that also endure the lengthy and stressful transportation routes to pet stores are also at risk of contracting additional illness or disease as they commingle with puppies from various facilities and states.