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Pets - Puppy mills

Animals affected

Dogs, Cats






Puppy Mills are farms or factories which breed puppies and kittens on an industrial scale at a price well below market value and without any thought towards the animals' wellbeing. They are usually located in Eastern European countries, where there is less control of standards of wellbeing, and they supply the entire Spanish market.

Nobody knows exactly how many Puppy Mills there are in Europe, nor how many animals are transported, but lorry accidents on the motorways and routine traffic controls have brought to light animals coming from Hungry, Romania, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic. Nevertheless, the highest number of known Puppy Mills are in USA, where it is calculated that there are approximately 10,000 of these kennels.

Puppy factories work in the following way: the mothers are kept in small cages their whole life, in industrial warehouses where there is hardly any light, in very poor hygienic and sanitary conditions and almost without veterinary attention. They are continually forced to breed whenever they are on heat, having one litter after another. The puppies are separated from their mothers prematurely and with just a few months of age they are transported in overcrowded Lorries all over Europe. Many die on the journey or arrive sick with diseases like parvovirus, coronavirus, pan leucopenia or hereditary diseases.

Falsification of travel documents of the animals is quite a common practice. The European ruling states that puppies should be over three months before transportation but according to Guardia Civil reports numerous illegalities have been detected, such as transportation in inadequate vehicles or falsification of passports, certificates and veterinary examinations in order to make the puppies appear to be older.

On a smaller scale of breeding purely for business we have what is known as Back Yard Breeding. This is carried out by unscrupulous people who breed the dogs which sell best. They usually have access to several females and one or two males, which they force to mate without stopping until they are exhausted in order to maximise profits. They could be anyone, even breeders with supposed good intentions. They may even treat the reproducing animals as members of their own family. However, continuous breeding for years on end producing litters endangers the wellbeing of animals and fills up abandoned animal shelters.

Also, many breeders of this type are not well informed about the dangers that reproduction of two animals could bring, among other malpractices they don’t carry out tests to detect genetic defects. Although what it takes to be a breeder is questionable nowadays, it is certainly much more than getting two dogs together to make money.

Lastly, when the animals come from Puppy Mills they flood the market, they reduce space available at the shelters and animal sanctuaries.

In Europe only 45.17% of transportation of dogs is legally registered.

According to a study by the European Community in 2014, 20,779 dogs and 2,287 cats were registered in TRACES (a system which allows the exchange of of information about imports and movements of live animals within the EU/EEA, enabling the authorities to issue veterinary certificates). Hungary, Slovakia and Spain are the countries of origin which account for 68% and 71% of trade in dogs and cats.

The legal requirements for the breeding of puppies are the following:

  • Minimum age for traveling. The minimum age for commercial transactions of pets in the EU is established at 3 months.
  • Requirements: vaccination, identification, passports. Must be identified by a microchip of ISO standards 11784 and HDX or FDXB technology, must wait for 21 days before travelling following anti-rabies vaccination (if it is primary vaccination). Passport with all the required sanitary information: at least three months of age, clinical examination carried out by a vet officially authorised by the EU country of origin.

Photo: Copyright 2016. The American Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). All Rights Reserved.


Our action

In Catalonia

  • We give advice to individuals who have bought a sick puppy.
  • We raise awareness about the risks involved in buying animals.
  • We collaborate with the authorities.
  • Together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment we are collaborating on creating an action plan to promote a more respectful coexistence with dogs and cats and good practice in their trade.

What can you do?

  • Adopt. There are also protection associations of specific breeds which have wonderful animals up for adoption.
  • Put pressure on your local pet food and accessories shop to work with a nearby animal refuge and to share news of animals adoptions.

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