Ask Dr. Chris

International Puppy Mills On The Rise?

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Here’s a disturbing story from a recent client visit…

No one can resist the face of an English Bulldog puppy. Recently, one of my clients decided to buy two English Bulldog puppies!

Oh boy!

She called because the puppies had just been flown from the “breeder” in Florida and were sick.  When they arrived, it was clear they had some problems.

One of the puppies appeared quite ill with a purulent nasal discharge, cough, fever, lethargy and a poor appetite.  The other had sores on its feet and a skin infection on the underside of his abdomen and chest typical for dogs raised in wire cages or dirty enclosures.

These puppies were in pretty rough shape and we had to do what we could to get them back to health.

As I was going through their paperwork and vaccination history, I noticed that the health certificate and rabies vaccination certificate were in Spanish. Upon further inspection, I found that these precious fur babies had actually been shipped from Ecuador to Miami, 3 days before they were shipped to Pennsylvania.

This “breeder” appears to actually be only an importer but how could anyone know that based on an internet ad?

The second puppy with the skin lesions on the pads and underside had typical changes seen in puppies that are kept in dirty wire cages. It is common for puppy mill operators to stack one cage on top of another out of sight of the general public. Laws have been enacted in many states in efforts to reduce this practice. Of course, we have no control over the conditions in other countries.

Since English Bulldog puppies are in high demand and people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for them, it is not surprising that International puppy mills would grow to meet this demand.

Importation of dogs appears to be on the increase and my client had no idea that her puppies were coming from outside of the United States.

After 2 weeks and several visits to the daytime practice and one visit to the emergency hospital, the puppies are doing well.

It’s scary to think that as we try to improve conditions in the United States, importation of dogs from overseas is increasing because people are fixated on owning a certain breed instead of adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization.

Next time you decide to get a puppy, please consider all your options and avoid online and pet store sales. These are almost always puppy mill dogs.  If you have a story to tell about a similar experience, feel free to comment below.

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  1. Avatar Of Christa



    I got a full breed Yorkie from a breeder online. But before I got the dog I drove to meet the breeder to see what type of conditions the dog was coming from. My dog Sassy came from a very good breeder. She was not a puppy mill. Everything was clean the dogs were well taken care of. Sassy has no problems. I am an advocate of adopting. I have two rescue cats that I have had for 14 years. Love thm to death. But I wanted a small dog because I live in a apartment. Shelters usually don’t have small dogs. I do plan to adopt a big dog when I move into a house. Don’t shame people because they want a dog from a breeder. People who do that though need to do their research and not have the dogs sent to them. Go meet the breeder. Mine was a 3 and a half hour trip two times. Once to meet her and once to pick up the dog. I straight up told the breeder that I want to make sure you are not a puppy mill. She didn’t get offended she understood.

  2. Avatar Of Ashley



    Completely agree. This is a typical story of internet, or pet store puppy mill dogs. My husband and I decided we wanted to add a second baby to our family but we really wanted a Boxer so we waited months before we were ready, then searched for only 4 weeks, going to different humane societies, Boxer specific rescues, and animal control. Just after 4 weeks, we found a perfectly healthy, 3 month old Boxer girl mix at animal control. Aside from a little medication from the kennel cough, she is absolutely perfect!
    Just because you are anxious to get a dog, DOES NOT mean that you have to rush and feed into this absurdity of puppy mills, if you really love dogs you would die if you saw how these puppy mills operate.
    We are so happy that we adopted little Elenore and her and my 4 year old Schnauzer are best friends.
    Adopt don’t shop!

  3. Avatar Of Susan



    I would like to know what happens to the puppies from the mill when they don’t get adapted??

    • Avatar Of Holly



      When a puppy loses its “cute” stage of looking like a puppy the owners of the puppy mills do one of 3 things. A. Turn it lose in a wooded or remote area B. Kill it. C. If they are running low on female dogs that are bred or running low on males to get a female pregnant the owners of the puppy mill will keep the puppy.

  4. Avatar Of Doris Hamilton

    doris hamilton


    I do not feel sorry for you I feel sorry for the dogs you should have adopted not shopped

  5. Avatar Of Beverly Thalman

    Beverly Thalman


    I got my English Bulldog from Florida. Bullcanes…. She came with coccidia, hip dysphasia, demodectic mange and something else that added to her loose stool diarrhea. Took a lot of time and money. First vet didn’t even check all her skin problems for mange. One vet wanted to operate on hips and knees. She ended up getting aspirated pneumonia at 4 years old and I had to put her to sleep. Her trachea was the size of a cats. I pray everyone make sure you know the breeder, once you bring them home it is impossible to just return them. Bully’s are expensive ($2000.00) and vet bills high. Last illness for pneumonia alone was $2000. Do not just order from Internet. That’s how I got Izzy. Do your homework. Only buy if you can see where they were bred and see parents. Mine came with vet certification too. What a joke.

    • Avatar Of Holly



      You are a joke. You are saying make sure you know the breeder. Maybe, just maybe you should consider adopting. If you adopt you are saving a life and supporting a great cause. If you support the breeding of animals instead of saving animals then you have the wrong idea. Adopt, Don’t Shop.

      • Avatar Of Mike



        Holly, I agree with your sentiments that adoption is a wonderful alternative to buying a dog. I have 4 adopted dogs myself. However, you can be a little more sensitive to others feelings. It may help your cause more than telling someone that they are a joke. See I was involved in a rescue that turned out to be less than a reputable organization. There are bad rescues out there just as there are bad breeders.

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