16 Ways to Stop Puppy Mills

Person smiling and holding a small dog, along with a Puppies Aren't Products Best Friends bag

Puppy mills raise animals in factory-like, inhumane settings, where the animals have little human interaction and run the risk of developing significant behavioral and medical issues. Even though more and more people are taking a stand against them, the U.S. still has thousands of licensed and unlicensed puppy mills. So what are some ways to stop puppy mills? Here are 16 options that anyone can do to help fight this cruel industry.

Adopt your next pet

If you have your heart set on a puppy or a particular dog breed, don't support puppy mills; instead, please choose to adopt. We guarantee that the perfect adoptable pet is waiting for you at one of the thousands of shelters and rescue groups across the country — and they're not hard to find. First, visit your local shelter. If you don't find the right pet there, visit petfinder.com. You can also find a dog of a particular breed by contacting a breed-specific rescue organization. To find breed rescue groups, do a search online: enter your location, the name of the breed you are looking for, and the word "rescue."

Don't buy a puppy online or from a pet store

If you buy a puppy online or from a pet store, you are most likely supporting the puppy mill industry. These are the two ways that puppy millers sell millions of dogs each year, along with newspaper and online classified ads. If you intend to buy a puppy, do your homework to know where puppy mill dogs are sold so that you can avoid them.

Take action against pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs

Ask pet stores to consider switching to a humane business model: one that promotes adopting instead of selling puppies from breeders. Many pet stores have already paved the way and are offering dogs for adoption. If the store chooses not to change, you can hold peaceful rallies to help educate the public and change store policy. 

Support legislation that regulates breeders

To help change your city, county, and state laws, sign up to receive advocacy alerts from Best Friends Animal Society. We make it quick and easy for you to support laws in your area that fight puppy mills. Go to Best Friends' Legislative Action Center to sign up.

Become an expert on the subject

Get familiar with how the puppy mill industry works by looking through Best Friends' puppy mill resources. You can watch breeder video footage, read USDA documents, and learn how to research pet stores in your community.

Know the existing laws

Many states have laws that regulate retail pet sellers. To find out how your state stacks up, see Best Friends' States With Humane Pet Sales Laws map.

Join the Best Friends 2025 Action Team

The Best Friends 2025 Action Team is composed of grassroots volunteers who are organizing in their own neighborhoods to advocate for pets. Be a part of this compassionate movement by joining a local team of animal advocates or starting your own today.

Call for stricter laws for pet stores and dog breeders

Contact your city, county, state, and federal officials, and ask them to take these issues seriously. Read Best Friends' resource on contacting officials to help you compose a message and contact the right people. Keep your call, letter, or email brief, respectful, and to the point. You might not receive a response, but know that these communications are counted and can really influence legislators.

Speak out in your community

Write letters to media outlets about puppy mills and breeders who keep their animals in unacceptable conditions. Note how many ads for dogs, puppies, kittens, and other animals there are in your newspaper's classified section, while animal shelters overflow with homeless pets.

Donate to Best Friends' puppy mill initiatives

Your donation will be used to fight puppy mills and to give former puppy mill dogs a chance to have what all dogs deserve: safety, good care, happiness, and love from a family of their own.

Elect animal-friendly officials

Before any election (local, state, or federal), ask candidates whether they would support laws regulating commercial breeders and what they would do about puppy mills in the community.

Report bad pet stores

If you or someone you know bought a puppy from a pet store and the puppy turned out to be sick, take action to make sure this doesn't happen to other animals and customers. Report the pet store that sold the sick puppy to different entities, including the Better Business Bureau, your state’s attorney general’s office, your state’s Department of Agriculture, your animal services department, and the local media.

Infiltrate the ads

In your newspaper's classifieds section, you probably can find numerous ads that sell puppies. To plant the idea of adopting instead, place classified ads promoting your local shelter or breed rescue group.

Raise awareness and/or donations

Host an awareness-raising or fundraising event in your community. To educate the public about puppy mills and/or raise awareness and funding for local rescue groups, some options are to organize a walk, volunteer at your local shelter, conduct a bake sale, or set up a table at local events and hand out information.

Spread the word

Educate your friends, family, and co-workers — especially those looking to obtain a pet — about the cruelty of puppy mills and the joys of pet adoption. Share adoption websites, such as petfinder.com, and breed rescue websites with people who are looking for purebred dogs.

Don't give up

The fight against puppy mills and bad breeders has been going on for decades. Things won't change overnight, but we are making progress and each little change helps. If you educate just one person about the horrors of puppy mills or convince just one person to adopt rather than buy a pet, you've made a difference. Join us and take a stand against puppy mills. Life in these “factory farms” is no life at all for dogs.

Learn more about puppy mills at bestfriends.org/puppymills.