Beware of puppy mill purchases

The third Saturday in September is Puppy Mill Awareness Day. This year it will fall on Sept. 15.

According to, an estimated 15,000 puppy mills in the U.S. force dogs to produce multiple litters to supply most dogs sold in pet stores, online, and through newspaper ads. Dogs can live in overcrowded, unsanitary cages often lacking ample food, water, socialization and care.

Many moons ago, when Ed, and I had been married a little over a year, we decided to add a dog to our family.

Financially, a dog from a breeder was not in the cards. We knew to avoid puppy mills, so we decided to go the rescue route.

On a Friday night after dinner, we stopped at a pet store to pick up a few essentials for the dog we would be adopting at a local animal shelter.

As we walked to the back of the store where the dog beds were located, we heard barking. Behind a glass window was a room with about six dogs of various breeds in wire cages.

Ed and I were immediately drawn to a female miniature schnauzer. We had both grown up with the breed. Maxie was my family’s schnauzer and Fritz’s was Ed’s.

A sales clerk saw us looking at her and before we knew it, he had the small puppy in his arms and was headed our way.

We looked at each other.

“Ah …,” Ed hesitated.

Before I uttered a word, the pup was in my lap.

She was a little hyper, probably from being cooped up in a cage. But the clerk was having none of it and impatiently tapped the pup’s backside.

The puppy buried herself into my lap. Protectively, I put my arms around her.

Without skipping a beat, Ed asked how much she cost.

“ She’s half off — $250,” the clerk responded.

Half off or not, that was a lot of money when only one of us was working and the other was still in graduate school.

We looked at the pup still curled up in my lap. One of her cropped ears was slightly larger than the other. Her docked tail was longer than Schnauzers’ tails should be. When she sat up she leaned to her left side.

Ed whispered in my ear, “Puppy mill?”


We knew that befuddled mess could have socialization as well as health issues. And we fell in love with her on the spot.

For the next several months, we lived on hot dogs and boxed mac and cheese. Mocha, as we named her, was worth every undercooked noodle and burnt hot dog we ate.

That dog was wicked smart. Mocha figured out that she could walk under my wheelchair’s crossbars. Not once did I run over a paw.

She loved to cuddle and slept next to Ed from the first night we brought her home.

We were lucky. Our puppy mill dog had few health issues and adjusted well to other animals and humans. In her later years, she welcomed into her home a stray cat, Bailey, as well as a human sister, Jordan.

Mocha lived almost 14 years and was a wonderful family member. But we made a promise to stay out of pet stores that sold dogs from questionable breeders. Two dogs later the promise is intact.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Pets

Springfield’s Rocking Horse gets $50,000 to help kids impacted by drugs
Springfield’s Rocking Horse gets $50,000 to help kids impacted by drugs

A Springfield medical health center will receive new money to help local kids who have lost a parent to drugs. CVS Health distributed a $50,000 grant to Rocking Horse Community Health Center Friday morning that will be used to help Clark County children who have been impacted the most by the opioid epidemic. The money will also go to help children...
CHEERS! The Dayton Art Institute Oktoberfest mugs are a coveted collectible
CHEERS! The Dayton Art Institute Oktoberfest mugs are a coveted collectible

Handcrafted mugs created by regional potters have been a sought-after collectible since Oktoberfest at the Dayton Art Institute began in the 1970s.  The earliest mug in the DAI’s collection, from 1974, is made from glass and features a printed DAI logo. In the years following the mugs were mass produced until the idea to use local potters...
What cats see when they look in the mirror
What cats see when they look in the mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Abby, our 16-year old cat, thinks she is. When Abby could no longer jump up on the kitchen counter to eat from her bowl, we searched for a place she could easily reach but Teddy, our Lab, could not. We placed the queen bee’s bowl in front of a large mirror on the master bathroom&rsquo...
Are household disinfectants making kids overweight? Study finds possible link
Are household disinfectants making kids overweight? Study finds possible link

Obesity affects nearly 1 in 6 children in the United States, according to new data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State of Obesity report. And new findings from the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveal there may be more contributing to that stat than overeating. Overweight children are approximately five times more...
Seven-Day Menu Planner
Seven-Day Menu Planner

9/23 Family Sunday Enjoy family day with your own Roast Chicken (5 to 7 pounds), mashed potatoes, gravy, peas with pearl onions (from frozen) and mixed greens. For dessert, drizzle creme fraiche or half-and-half over bread pudding. Plan ahead: Save...
More Stories