Getting Answers: What is a puppy mill?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Humane Society of the United States says Ohio ranks second in the country for the number of puppy mills. The organization released that information in its annual "Horrible Hundred" report, which details the puppy mill problem across the nation.

What brings up another question. What is a puppy mill?

The Humane Society defines a puppy mill as a for-profit breeding operation, where the dogs' needs are not being met. This includes the need for adequate shelter, sufficient food, and clean water.

The Humane Society estimates there are about 10,000 such puppy mills in the United States. Many of those puppies are then sold to pet stores. That's why animal advocates recommend that if you're in the market for a certain breed of dog, you do your homework before picking a breeder.

"Research good, reputable breeders that are breeding because they love their breed and they're trying to improve and sustain the quality of their breed," said Cleveland Animal Protective League President Sharon Harvey.

That's what Zack Vosso did before choosing a breeder. He and his wife wanted a mini golden doodle puppy. He says they compared different breeders, checking into their backgrounds before settling on one.

"Google nowadays can tell you so much about breeders, pretty much everything," said Vosso. "We did some research, looked at previous dogs that had come from that breeder, and did all the background checks possible to make sure that breeder was up to par and what we stood for."

Animal advocates recommend you check out the location of the breeder, ask to meet the parents of the puppy, and request to see where the puppy was born and raised. Those measures will also be helpful to determine if you're buying from a reputable breeder, instead of a puppy mill.

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