Puppy mills exist for one reason and one reason only—greed.
What is a Puppy Mill?
While there is no legal definition, a puppy mill is commonly defined as a large-scale breeding facility that places profits over the welfare of the animals it is breeding. Often these animals are kept in a lifetime of cruel and unsanitary conditions.
Red Flags of Puppy Mills or Irresponsible Breeders
When purchasing a puppy, keep an eye out for these common red flags to avoid:
❌ Large numbers of animals or always seem to have puppies available
❌ The dog is being raffled as a prize
❌ Not allowed to meet the breeding dog parents
❌ Not allowed to view the home or business facility
❌ Seller has several “designer” breeds
❌ Seller has no interest in the puppy’s wellbeing (type of home it’s going to etc.)
❌ If the puppy being sold is younger than eight weeks old
Green Light for Responsible Breeders
Here are some key things to note when purchasing from responsible breeders to look for:
✅ Vet clinic recommended
✅ Seller encourages house visits before adoption
✅ Seller provides veterinary records upfront
✅ Seller offers training resources
✅ Sellers will only have a limited amount of puppies
✅ Reasonable return policy
Resources for Responsible Breeders
There are plenty of safe resources and rescue groups to reach out to or adopt from. Here are just a few to start:
➡️If you are looking for a specific breed, our recommendation is to go to the local breeders club and interview breeders to verify their commitment to responsible breeding.
Breeding Regulations In Place
In 2011 our sister 501(c)4 organization, Texas Humane Legislation Network, was instrumental in passing HB 1451, which licenses and regulates large scale commercial dog and cat breeders.
The Dog and Cat Breeder Act provides basic protections for tens of thousands of dogs and cats confined and raised in large scale breeding facilities by requiring humane housing and care standards and needed veterinary care. The law is administered and enforced by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and requires periodic inspections and annual veterinary care.
In 2021, after intense grassroots and lobby outreach from THLN and THLN supporters, the Texas Sunset Commission has voted to MAINTAIN the Texas Licensed Breeders Program and continue to stop puppy mills from operating across Texas.
Common Questions About Puppy Mills and Licensed Breeders
Who must be licensed?
Anyone who has 11 or more adult intact female dogs and /or cats and who sells or offers to sell 20 or more dogs or cats in a calendar year must be licensed. The law provides exemptions for certain types of dog breeding, including dogs, bred for herding livestock, hunting , or competing in field trials.
Where can I read the program statute and rules?
View the statute and administrative rules here.
How do breeders get licensed?
Send a completed application and fee. All forms for licensing can be downloaded here. Application fees are $300 if you own 11-25 females; or $500 if you own 26 or more females. Application fees are non-refundable.
How do I file a complaint against a breeding operation?
If you believe someone should be a licensed breeder, but is not licensed, you can file a complaint online by clicking this link here. (If you do not know if a person or company is licensed, use the Unlicensed Activity option.)
If a breeder is operating without a license but meets the requirements for licensure, the business will be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative penalties and sanctions. In addition if you believe there are animal cruelty violations occurring, you should also contact your local animal control authority.
How Do I Report a Suspected Puppy Mill in Texas?
- First, report the suspected puppy mill by contacting the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) at 800-803-9202.
- Second, write about it! Share your story on social media platforms to warn others for the future. Only through awareness and education can we put an end to puppy mills.
What Stops Puppy Mills from Happening?
One of the biggest questions we get is, “Why don’t you outlaw puppy mills?”
We can’t outlaw a business, but what we can do is regulate the business. This is why we have the Texas Licensed Breeder Program in the State of Texas for those animals kept in large-scale breeding facilities.
Currently, HB1451 is law in the state of Texas as of 2011. This law licenses and regulates large-scale commercial dog and cat breeders. Anyone who has 11 or more adult intact female dogs and/or cats and sells/offers to sell 20 in a calendar year must be licensed. If not, a civil penalty will be imposed.
HB1818 was introduced during the 87th Legislative Session in 2021, but ran out of time before the end of session. This bill would have stipulated that a pet store may not sell a dog or cat unless the pet store obtained the dog or cat from:
- An animal control agency;
- An animal shelter;
- An animal rescue organization; or
- A licensed breeder.
To learn more, visit our legislation organization at www.thlntx.org.