Unfortunately, puppy mills are still a powerful force in the dog breeding world. They do not care about the care, safety, and health of the animals… just the money that they can receive from their sale. Many of the animals in their care live miserable existences and have never been given the love and care that they deserve. They usually sell sick dogs that have lifelong health issues as well as many behavior issues.  

So how do you find your next family member without accidentally purchasing from one? Here are some ways to avoid supporting this industry.  

Going to Your Local Shelter  

If you are looking for a particular breed, don’t skip the local shelter. People surrender animals there for many reasons, like losing a home, so you would be surprised at the number of purebreds that reside there. Also, when puppy mills are raided and shut down, shelters usually end up with a lot of those animals. They assess their health, provide them with care, and when they are ready, go up for adoption. Looking for a puppy or kitten? Shelters are usually bursting at the seams with entire litters.  

While shelters and animal control are two different entities with different purposes, don’t forget to check there as well. Often after animal control has had dogs in their possession for a while or if they end up surrendered, they will also put them up for adoption.  

Some of the shelters Hungry Hound works with on a regular basis are:  

  • Hobart Humane Society
  • Humane Society of Northwest Indiana
  • South Suburban Humane Society
  • Lake County Animal Control


Reaching Out to a Rescue  

Rescues are on the front lines of retrieving dogs out of overcrowded shelters and animal control. They don’t have “facilities”. Instead, they are a network of people that foster animals in their own homes until they can find them a good home.  

Some rescues focus on a specific breed, while others will take any dog in need. Rest assured, there’s always plenty of animals available. From puppies to seniors and dogs to cats to guinea pigs, you’ll find them with your local rescue.  

And don’t overlook seniors. They are magnificent pets that are usually housebroken and just looking to spend their golden years relaxing in a home that loves them.  

Some of our favorite rescues:  

  • Sunshine Paws
  • Lakeshore Paws
  • Giant Paw Prints Rescue
  • 2x2 Rescue
  • Guardians of the Green Mile
  • Open Arms Animal Rescue


Finding a Responsible Breeder  

Sometimes you can’t find the dog you’re looking for in a shelter or rescue, so you’ll look into a breeder. Responsible breeders are focused on their breed and care about the health and well-being of animals in their care. A good breeder will be a resource for you to have for years to come.  

The key is to thoroughly research the breeders in which you are interested. Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid purchasing from a puppy mill or backyard breeder  

  • You should be able to see their facility. If they don’t want you to come to their home/facility, that’s a HUGE warning sign. The dogs should be kept in clearn, healthy living conditions with regular trips to the vet. Puppy mills NEVER provide that and will usually request to meet them someplace other than their location. If they don’t want you to see where the puppy is raised, DO NOT PURCHASE from this breeder.
  • You should be able to meet the parents. Most responsible breeders are proud of the puppy’s bloodline and the parents of the dog. They will hold AKC papers and be ready and willing to show you their paperwork and let you meet them so you can see their standard of health and wellness as well as the breeding standard. Puppy mills will not allow that to happen since the parents are always in poor living conditions, malnourished and have health issues.
  • There should not be multiple breeds and multiple litters. Again, responsible breeders usually focus on a single breed. If they offer many different types of breeds and advertise “designer dogs” that is a sign of a puppy mill. Also, most responsible breeders have only a few dogs that they breed at any given time. Multiple litters being sold are rare. If they have a seemingly endless supply of puppies, they most certainly are at risk of being a puppy mill.
  • The puppies should be the right age. Puppies should never leave their mother before they are 8 weeks old. Not only are they still getting nourishment from their mom, but they are also learning to socialize with their siblings. Being removed too young from their parents can result in health issues as well as behavior ones. Responsible breeders would never allow a puppy to be taken from their mother before then. They should also have veterinary visit and puppy vaccination records showing their age and the standard of care they have received with the breeder.

And remember, pet store puppies tend to be purchased from puppy mills, so it is best to stay away from them.  

Is this a lot of work? Absolutely, but so is being a pet parent. In the end, the health of your beloved pet and countless other dogs depends on it.