SAY NO to Puppy Mills – ADOPT DON’T SHOP


*Harley is a Puppy Mill Survivor

Puppy mills are inhumane breeding facilities where the focus is on profit rather than the well being of the dogs.   There is very little concern for the health of the dogs breeding and the puppies they produce. The mothers and puppies are often neglected, left starving and sick, without medical care. Just ask Harley from Mill Dog Rescue . Harley is our Hero today and you can vote for him HERE in the Hero Dog Awards. Harley is a voice for the thousands of breeding dogs still living in puppy mills, and by winning the “Emerging Hero” Award it will draw attention to help further his mission.

TH vote Harley

Harley spent 10 years living in a small cage in a puppy mill before he was rescued and found a loving home. His journey of physical and emotional healing inspired a campaign called “Harley to the Rescue” which has raised the funds to save (and provide medical care for) more than 500 dogs from puppy mills over the past two years. Harley personally goes on these rescue missions; and there is no doubt … Harley is keenly aware of what is happening! There is something indescribable in the way he communicates with the sad and scared dogs.

As a spokes-dog against puppy mills, Harley has educated thousands of people, of all ages, about the horrors of the commercial dog breeding industry. He appeared in our award winning Documentary “Talent Hounds – Rescues Rock!”. See our TV trailer here.


Harley makes public appearances at events and schools where he gladly accepts love and attention from everyone. Harley’s grizzled appearance is a testament to the care and nurturing that he had never received. He had issues: a diseased heart, a mouth filled with rot, a fused spine, a broken tail, gnarled toes, and legs that were deformed. And then there is the missing eye – the result of his cage being power-washed with him in it (an all too common practice in puppy mills). All of these conditions were the result of years of horrendous neglect and abuse.

National Mill Dog Rescue

National Mill Dog Rescue was established in February 2007, in honour of a forgiving little Italian Greyhound named Lily. Theresa Strader, NMDR’s Founder and Executive Director, rescued Lily from a dog auction in Missouri. Prior to that day, Lily had spent the first seven years of her life as a commercial breeding dog, a puppy mill mom. Determined that her years of living in misery would not be in vain, Strader started NMDR, giving a voice to mill dogs across the country.


By seven years of age, Lily was worn out. Commonplace in the industry, she had received little to no veterinary care throughout her life, the result of which, for her, was terribly disturbing. Due to years of no dental care, poor quality food, rabbit bottle watering and no appropriate chew toys, the roof of Lily’s mouth and lower jaw, had rotted away. Her chest was riddled with mammary tumors and she was absolutely terrified of people. NMDR has taken a national approach to their rescue and adoption efforts and they have rescued and placed more than 9,000 mill dogs since their inception in 2007. These dogs are now living as cherished family members across the United States.

TH Teddy Mill Dog

Teddy is another wonderful SpokesDog against Puppy Mills who is working hard to educate people about the cruelty. Teddy spent 7 years in a puppy mill before being rescued and then adopted into a loving home. His years in the puppy mill are reflected in his tattered ears, scarred nose, and crooked walk.

You can VOTE FOR HIM here in the Modern Dog Magazine Contest and help him spread the word.


In 2009, animal rights activist Cari Meyers founded The Puppy Mill Project (TPMP) to raise awareness and educate the masses about this issue and end puppy mills.  According to the TPMP, 99% of all pet store puppies are from puppy mills. Approximately 2.5 million puppies are born in puppy mills annually in the U.S. and more than 400,000 breeding stock dogs are imprisoned in these kennels.


The breeding stock dogs usually suffer broken jaws and rotted teeth due to neglect making it very difficult to eat. Puppy mills are overcrowded with dogs living in small cages with wire bottoms, never having a solid surface to stand on.

Female “breeding” dogs are bred as frequently as possible to turn out profit, then are destroyed or discarded once they can no longer reproduce.  Their puppies are taken away from them prematurely, which may result in a rise of disease and socialization issues. They end up in pet stores across the country and bought by individuals who are unaware of the business they just supported.

Pet stores and online sellers often hide the truth of where their puppies come from and may trick consumers into thinking they are from a reputable breeder to make a sale.


How To Stop Puppy Mills

Adding a new family member to your home is a big decision and proper research is critical. Take our fun Breed Quiz to see your best match and learn about specific breeds in our Breed Library.

Adopt-Don’t Shop! Or if you decide on a puppy of a specific breed, choose a responsible breeder. 

There are many dogs in shelters and rescues looking for their forever homes. Many end up in shelters for reasons outside their control and deserve a second chance with a loving family. They aren’t broken, they can be trained and the love they express despite can be very inspiring as we learned filming our Rescues Rock documentary.


If you choose to get a puppy from a breeder, take extra time to research them. Reputable breeders, recognized by the AKC  or CKC, invest years into maintaining the health and well-being of a breed.  A breeder should have no issues showing you around their grounds, the puppies parents, the vet reports and the paper work.

Read more tips on finding the right pet for your family from The Puppy Mill Project and their efforts to end puppy mills.

*Harley is a spokes dog for National Mill Dog Rescue who’s mission is to RESCUE, REHABILITATE and RE-HOME discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.

Check out Available Dogs from the NMDR

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  • This is just so heartbreaking. That video really had me tearing up. As sad as it is, we have to talk about it and educate to change things. Thanks for sharing.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Yes- I think educating people and putting pressure on pet stores is a great way to make Puppy Mills bad business.

  • Puppy mills are terrible places. The only way we can stop them is by spreading the word. Thanks for sharing this important information. Too many people still don’t know the truth. Harley is definitely a hero!

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I know- thanks to you too. To be honest I was unaware of the extent and horrors until a few years ago when I started researching our first documentary. XS

  • Thanks for spreading the word about puppy mills! Love Dolly

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Pleasure Dolly. I see you and many of our blog pals have been busy helping get the word out too. The more the better! I’m happy to share and add links on related posts. XS

  • I agree with everyone here, education is key to awareness. Thank you so much for sharing this Ted Talks event.

  • Great post! NMDR is such a wonderful organization. When I did my series on puppy mills two years ago, one post focused on them. I follow them all on Facebook and love to see the “Harley to the Rescue” posts, and the NMDR on the road to rescue more dogs in desperate need of help. I just hate that puppy mills even exist, and never will be able to understand the people that can be so heartless and cruel, all to make money.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I agree, it’s so hard to believe people can be so heartless. When I first saw the cages and the results I was horrified. I had no idea. I hope Harley and Teddy both get recognized. We are voting. Thanks for commenting. X Susie

  • An amazing, tragic, important post! Thank you. I hope many people pay attention.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Thanks so much for saying that. Surprised how few of our blog hop pals have clicked or commented yet- hopefully they will. Every comment or view or share gets the message out.

  • As distressing as this post can be, we’ve got to continue to heighten awareness and eradicate puppy mills. I have nothing against responsible and reputable breeders but puppy mills have got to go! Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Yes we agree. We actually love some responsible breeders we know and would highly recommend, but we hate puppy mills. I have usually had rescues ( Kilo now, Isabelle 15 years in Chile and Canada, Cookie in Singapore, Kim in Sydney Aus growing up) but also one wonderful lab from a farm breeder in Chile. I suspect Kilo the Pug could be a Puppy Mill boy as cute looking but not perfect and some severe social issues. Thanks for commenting as every action helps share the message. XS

  • Thanks for the info about Harley. Education like you are providing is the key to eliminating these awful places. As others have said, it’s impossible to understand how people can abuse animals – dogs, livestock – for profit.

  • Aw wow that is just so awful 🙁 Puppy mills are horrid and inexcusable most definitely. Far too many animals suffering simply for the profit of puppies. Horrible……
    Oh, I wanted to ask you guys since you are in Canada as well, are you going to the upcoming K9 Sport Fest??
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  • Thank you for your awareness and ongoing education to the public on the issue of puppy mills.

  • Sue Klosinski 2 years ago

    Anyone who buys a dog unless they are show dogs should look to a rescue first. Rescue dogs have the best temperament

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I agree. I have always had rescues my whole life. Our episode “Rescues Rock” highlights the special bond you have with a rescue- you can see the trailer and stories on the site. However I know some lovely pet, therapy and service dogs from wonderful breeders with great temperaments. I also know a few rescues with major issues. I believe it is very important to do your research and make sure you understand how much time, $, energy etc you have for a dog and choose the right breed or mix. Look first for a rescue, then if necessary a responsible breeder, and then put the time in to positive training and exercise (physical and mental).