Puppy mills. I've talked about them before. The dogs are bred nearly to death, puppies are raised in cages, crammed together like badly treated livestock. Actually, that's what they are, they're certainly not beloved housepets or family members. They live in wire cages, eat there, eliminate there and live in filth, seldom having human touch or caring. Certainly there is no socialization. Puppies are then taken away from mothers too young by "bunchers," put into trucks and taken to pet shops. Sometimes they don't make it and die in the truck. Often they're sick and die at the pet shop or soon after they are sold at an inflated price to a new owner.
The price is what they think the market will bear, with markups for the buncher, the pet shop, etc. They are sold for more than a pet quality puppy from a reputable breeder, or for the same price. What you won't get from a puppy mill pup is a chance to meet at least one of the parents, see proof of health screenings before breeding, you won't have a healthy, well-socialized pup well on its way to being housetrained. They have every chance of having behavior problems. In fact, it's the rare puppy mill pup who won't.
Some pet shops are fancier than others and they talk about getting their puppies from "breeders" but look at the registration papers and see where those pups originated. Chances are very good that it will be one of the hearts of puppy mill country.
September 20, 2008 is Puppy Mill Awareness Day. I wish every day were Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Here are two websites where you can learn more about it:
I hope you'll take time to think about this issue, learn more about it. Don't be fooled by the puppy mill, the backyard breeder, or the commercial breeder who claims to do testing and have "socializers." There is nothing like a dedicated breeder, one who does all of the testing, knows their pups well, start housetraining and often simple behaviors like Sit, Down, Stay, Come before the pups go to their new homes. They lose money on every litter. The pups are family members and are matched to their owners.
Most people spend more time learning about cars before buying one than they do about dogs and puppies. Take time to learn and be sure you and your new pup are off to a good start.