Watch Out For Mini-Mills
Just about everyone is familiar with the term, "puppy mill."
When you hear that phrase, most likely you think of a squalid farm off in the South or Midwest, with sickly mothers confined to cages, breeding litter after litter for the pet shop market.
Sadly, such places do exist, and they get a lot of publicity when they're exposed.
However, there's another kind of puppy mill that's harder to recognize. They're what I call "mini-mills:" unscrupulous breeders who may not fit the usual puppy mill stereotype, but in the end, share the same philosophy: the reason they are breeding dogs is to make a buck.
What's especially dangerous about these mini-mills is it can be very difficult to tell one from a reliable breeder. A lot of these bottom-feeders are good at making themselves sound responsible: their web pages are pretty, with all sorts of reassuring text pasted from other sites, and they know how to say the right things on the phone. They'll tell you how much they love their own Newfies, and how they'll only sell to carefully screened prospects... everything they know you want to hear.
But cruise the Internet and you'll find accounts like these, on a popular Newfoundland forum:
I was on (a breeder's) website just yesterday and saw that she has 13 breedable female Newfoundlands listed. I know for a fact that this particular person does not breed for anything other than to produce Newfoundland puppies, and ships all over the U.S. and advertises all over the Internet, Dog World, etc....
Her website looks good till you do the math.... realize she has never shown any of her dogs, they never go anywhere off the property just for fun... The dogs are breeding stock; if they don't produce then they are sold/given away. Just talking to this person over the phone you would think she is a wonderful breeder and you are going to get a wonderful puppy from her because she LOVES her Newfies. Yes, she works hard, but she is just working to produce puppies for money.... nothing else.
There is one in our neck of the woods who has a very nice, appealing website. She sounds fine on the phone ... comes off as being knowledgeable to the uneducated person. Talks about her "co-breeder" and makes everything sound rosy. What she doesn't say is her "co-breeder" is a puppy mill in the Midwest.
Note a common element: "her website looks good" ... "a very nice appealing website."
As I said before, don't be fooled... anyone can make themselves look good on the Web.
What's the risk in dealing with one of these outfits? Consider these three separate accounts, posted on a consumer protection web page, and all dealing with the same breeder:
I purchased an 11-week-old Newfoundland pup from ______________ and it arrived with a broken hip and four broken metatarsals. I asked her what to do about the dog and she basically said it's my problem. This breeder is very very bad to deal with. I would not recommend her to anyone. I am pursuing my claim legally now, not for the money but for justice for this poor dog.
I bought a puppy from her and was sent a sick puppy who, months later, is still being treated by my vet for an intestinal virus detected by my vet the day he arrived. The puppy also arrived with kennel cough. I still have not received my papers. These are facts that I have the vet receipts to verify. Very bad experience. Don't be stupid like me, do your homework. Fortunately for my puppy he is getting the medical attention he needs and is going to have a good, happy life.
We purchased a Newfoundland puppy for 1600 dollars. He had a bad case of mange. For those of you that don't know what that is, it is a parasitic infestation in the skin. He was bleeding from his legs and he was crying all day. We immediately took him to the vet and he said this puppy has had mange. He also said this is something he had for a while, and not something new. The dog being sick was one problem - the other problem was that the "breeder" had now become unreachable. Several emails were sent but no response. What's weird is that the whole time we were in contact about purchasing the dog she was very easy to get in touch with.
That's just one example. Here's a report on a different mini-mill, from the Newfoundland forum I quoted above:
When I bought my first dog, I was pretty confident that I had found a good one. She lived in the next state over and sounded wonderful on the phone. She said all the right things. When I got there to pick up my pup, they were living in kennels (she had nine bitches and advertised as having three) and were obviously unsocialized. We had seen our pup once before and he had acted okay- not overly friendly, but tolerant. This time when we went to pick him up, he was fearful and shy. We took him anyway and later came to find out all kinds of awful things about this breeder. Right away our pup had health problems and after a few months started biting people. Sadly, we couldn't keep him.
Talk about heart-breaking, huh?
It's hard to believe-- and very sad to think-- that such kennels exist in the Newf world, but they certainly do.
So how can you tell one of these mini-mills from a reliable breeder? If you can't rely on a breeder's web page, and have to be skeptical of what you hear on the phone, how the heck are you going to tell the bad apples from the good ones?
Don't get discouraged; there's ways it can be done. But first, one more warning.
Next: Don't Check References
The Proper Attitude
Take Your Time
Don't Rely On The Internet
Watch Out For Mini-Mills
Don't Check References
The Most Important Question
More Questions To Ask