Are You Smarter Than a Puppy Miller?

Photo Credit: Flicker, CC License, crazymandy, puppiesCalifornia recently banned the sale of puppy mill dogs from pet stores, and I hope this legislation becomes contagious throughout the United States. Unfortunately, in addition to selling their “merchandise” to pet stores, puppy millers have a huge online presence where their business is thriving.

The problem is, folks who are newish (and even some who are not so newish) to purchasing puppies fall prey to the allure of puppy mill websites. They see dozens of images of adorable fuzzy faces, healthy and happy appearing dogs lounging on couches in beautiful homes, and puppies playing in yards filled with lush green grass. One need not be super-gullible to buy into all this pretense.

Case in point- my friends who are both medical professionals (they’re not stupid people) are ready to adopt a puppy. They searched kennels online and found one they liked. Emails were exchanged with the breeder and my friends were ready to take the next step. Thankfully, they called me first to get my opinion. I hopped online, spent about a minute on the website and found a dozen or so red flags that shouted, “Puppy Mill!!” I shared this information with my friends, gave them a tutorial on where and how to adopt, and patted myself on the back for putting the kabosh on a puppy mill purchase.

Let the games begin!

Ready to take a little quiz? Read each quote below and determine if you think it came from a responsible breeder’s website or one behind which a puppy miller is lurking. I will provide you with my opinions next week.

Post your responses and your name will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Speaking for Spot or Your Dog’s Best Health (the choice will be yours). Also, let me know if you share this quiz with a friend or two or three or five, and your name will also be entered into the book drawing. The more people who learn to sniff out puppy mills, the better.

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“Our insurance agent has warned against having visitors because our policy could be cancelled should someone get injured during a visit.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“Our ultimate goal as Mini Goldendoodle breeders is to provide healthy, happy, well socialized family pets. Our farm has lots of room to run and a creek to play in! With our kids, our nieces and nephews and extended families, the puppies get lots of love, playtime and socialization. This allows them to be more well adjusted little puppies when they go their new homes.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“I am not being secretive, nor do I have anything to hide by requesting visits to be scheduled. If I’m not going out then I am generally grooming, cleaning, etc. and either me, my house, or my dogs are not in a state in which I care to entertain strangers, usually it’s me covered with dirt and/or dog hair from grooming.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“We warranty your puppy for ten years. No cash refunds, no vet bill refunds, only credit towards new puppy will be awarded.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“Nobody handles a puppy unless it is ‘their’ puppy that they already have a deposit on. The deposit is $350 and non-refundable.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“I do allow you to come and visit if you have a deposit on a puppy. I do not allow my breeding dogs to be touched/handled. You will be able to see how our dogs are housed, exercised and to view the heated and air conditioned whelping houses from my viewing room.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“We offer the convenience of shipping your puppy to you via plane or we can drive and meet you halfway. This way, you don’t have to spend time driving all the way to us.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“We offer financing with 0% interest for six months.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“If there is a specific puppy you want, but you do not want to put a hold down and you start to drive- that is your choice! If the puppy is purchased online ANYTIME PRIOR TO YOUR ARRIVAL, (yes, even 5 minutes), there is NOTHING WE CAN DO! This is the nature of things. It’s the same with cars, boats, clothes, phones, etc…. whoever puts the money down first gets the puppy.”

  1. Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

Under frequently asked questions and answers, the question is, “My new dog is shying away from hands in his face and yelling/loud noises. Has he/she been abused?”

The response is, “No, your dog is just nervous and is shying away because he has probably never been yelled at or hit and it is terrifying to him. Most abused dogs get used to it and hardly react, opposite of what most people think!”

Sending you much gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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