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Red Flags:

Warning Signs When Dealing With A "Breeder"

A skinny little beagle puppy at the WI puppy mill described in this article.
( Click photo for larger view & caption.)

What Is A Puppy Mill?   *   What Can I Do About It?   *   Laws/Legislation   *   ACTION ALERTS!


 pawprint bullet point   Printer-Friendly Fact Sheet (PDF)   pawprint bullet point   Acrobat Reader   pawprint bullet point


       Use our "Warning Signs When Dealing With a Breeder" to help you identify disreputable sources for purchasing pets. If the breeder you are considering exhibits even one of these traits…EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION! You may be getting yourself into an expensive, heartbreaking problem.

 Red flag bullet point   Advertising: Does the Breeder —   

  • Advertise in classified newspaper ads, flyers in stores and on classified sites on the Internet?

  • Use hand painted "roadside" signs to advertise puppies or other pets for sale?

  • Advertise "Puppies always available" or "Puppies Ready for Christmas / Easter / etc.?"

  • Advertise many different breeds for sale?

  • Advertise oddball or specialized varieties or "rare" breeds?

 Red flag bullet point   Sales Venue: Does the Breeder —   

  • Offer to meet you at a parking lot or public place to sell you the pup?

  • Sell puppies at a public place like a dog auction, flea market, yard sale, swap meet or pet store, or out of the back of a pickup truck, car, or van?

 Red flag bullet point   Sales Pitch: Does the Breeder —   

  • Tell you that the "whole deal" can be completed with one phone call or email?

  • Make excuses why you can't meet the parents of the pups?

  • Tell you that the parents of the pups are a different location and he's just acting as an "agent" to sell the puppies?

  • Offer stud service to the general public or sells "breeding pair?"

  • Tell you that he doesn't require spaying/neutering of "pet quality" puppies?

  • Try to sell you a puppy that is under eight weeks old?

 Red flag bullet point   Breeding Site: Do the adult animals onsite —   

  • Appear dirty, poorly groomed or have poor coat quality?

  • Act aggressive, vicious, anti-social or overly fearful?

  • Spend their lives in stacked cages or poorly lit outbuildings, garages or basements?

  • Lack shelter protected from inclement weather or kept from getting too hot or too cold?

  • Have no water available or water that is available is dirty or frozen?

  • Appear either too thin or too heavy or just seem generally unhealthy?

  • Seem to be more numerous than the breeder can properly care for, exercise and socialize?

 Red flag bullet point   Registration: Does the Breeder —   

 Red flag bullet point   Legal Considerations —   

  • Does the breeder demand cash only payment and/or does not have a State of Wisconsin Seller's Permit?

  • Has the breeder been the subject of complaints registered with local humane societies or sheriff's departments?

  • Has the breeder been convicted of a crime against animals (In Wisconsin, see

  • If in Wisconsin, is the breeder licensed by the Department of Trade, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection (DATCP)? Please see: DATCP: WI Licensed Dog Sellers Listing


       In our opinion, puppy millers and back yard breeders should NOT be called "breeders." A more accurate description of these people is PET PROFITEERS. They don't care about the animals — they only care about M-O-N-E-Y. They use and abuse animals for profit, and frequently hold their own customers in contempt. (See Interview with a WI "Puppy Farmer".) If the market dries up for disreputable breeders they will no longer make a profit and will quickly lose interest in the "pets for profit" business.

       Are there good breeders?  A most emphatic YES! Raising sound, healthy, well socialized puppies is difficult work with some very specific demands. Quality breeders care about the animals they produce, and most say that if someone is making money breeding puppies, that person is doing something wrong! ( Please see How to identify a Quality Breeder and Breeders With Pride: Responsible Breeders Speak Out.)


Additional Resources:

 pawprint bullet point   Finding Your New Best Friend   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Before You Buy or Adopt   pawprint bullet point   Guide to Finding a Pet   pawprint bullet point   Red Flags: Disreputable Breeders   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Identifying a Quality Breeder   pawprint bullet point   Breeders With Pride: Responsible Breeders Speak Out   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   DATCP: Essential Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dog or Puppy (pdf)   pawprint bullet point   DATCP: Puppy Shopping (pdf)   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   DATCP: Shopping for a Puppy   pawprint bullet point    DATCP: WI Licensed Dog Sellers Listing   pawprint bullet point   DATCP: Information for Consumers   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT Against a Dog Seller in Wisconsin   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   What Does Breed Registration Really Mean?   pawprint bullet point   Rehoming: Free To Good Home?     pawprint bullet point

What Is A Puppy Mill?
What Can I Do?
Laws/ Legislation


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© Copyright, 2008. The Wisconsin Puppy MIll Project
P.O. Box 926    *    Sheboygan, WI 53082-0926   *

Article Copyright © 1999, by Eilene Ribbens . All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Photo Copyright © 1999, by Elizabeth Meadows. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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