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Mental Health of Puppy Mill Dogs

This pup at Silver Lining Kennel seems to be saying, Get Me Out of Here!

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Dalton the chihuahua had been so traumatized that he attacked anyone who tried to touch him.       Those who work with rehabilitating puppy mill survivors have known for years that these dogs have special problems and needs, depending on their individual personalities and past experiences. Some respond fairly quickly to love, steady meals, and a comfortable bed. Others require a great deal of patience and guidance from someone experienced in rehabilitating mill dogs; they can become wonderful family pets but may always have emotional scars and "quirks." A few, unfortunately, are so traumatized that they may learn to co-exist with humans but will never be "pets."

Christy the Westie was so frightened of people that she pushed her back up against the wall and trembled whenever anyone approached her.       In October 2011, Dr. Frank McMillan, under the auspices of Best Friends Animal Society, along with Drs. James Serpell and Deborah Duffy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, released the findings of a landmark study of dogs who are subjected to the isolation and deprivation of mass commercial breeding conditions.

      Lazarus is terrified of people, ignores food, goodies, and toys, and tries to make himself invisible when anyone approaches. Dr. McMillan summarizes: “This study gives us strong evidence that the dogs kept in these large-scale breeding facilities don’t just suffer while they’re confined there, but carry the emotional scars out with them for years, even when they’re placed in loving homes.” His findings come as no surprise, but this is the first study to identify the damaging effects of mill life on canines, and may influence future laws regulating commercial breeding.

Whitey the westie with infected cysts between his toes.       While Wisconsin Act 90/ATCP 16 requires exercise outside of the cage, socialization, human contact, and "enrichment" -- toys -- for dogs in commercial breeding establishments, most "puppy mill" laws focus only on the external environment. It is hoped that this study will help give lawmakers the information they need to incorporate "Behavior and Socialization" into future legislation nationwide.

For summaries and discussions of the study, see:

The study itself can be read here: Mental Health of Dogs from Breeders.McMillan.pdf

       For more on the mental issues facing puppy mill survivors, please see our Puppy Mill Survivors: Caring for Mill Dogs section, particularly the Caring for Unsocialized Mill Dogs article. We also encourage you to click on any photo on this page for the story behind the faces.


 pawprint bullet point   Mental Health of Dogs from Breeders.McMillan.pdf   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Puppy mills-USA Today reports on breakthrough study by Best Friends Animal Society   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point    New Study Shows Dogs in Puppy Mills Suffer Long-lasting, Severe Psychological Harm   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Puppy mills leave lasting emotional scars:    pawprint bullet point     A Clean Puppy Mill is Not Nearly Enough   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point    Caring for Unsocialized Mill Dogs   pawprint bullet point    Puppy Mill Survivors: Caring for Mill Dogs


Coffee the min pin is extremely shy.


WIsconsin Act 90/ATCP 16 Information:

 pawprint bullet point   ATCP 16 Standards of Care (General)   pawprint bullet point   ATCP 16 Standards of Care, Indoor Facilities   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   ATCP 16 Standards of Care, Outdoor Facilities   pawprint bullet point   Transporting Dogs   pawprint bullet point

pawprint bullet point    Act 90/ATCP 16: Facts for Consumers   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   ATCP 16 Plain Language Factsheet (pdf)   pawprint bullet point   ATCP 16 Full Formal Language (pdf)   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   2009 WISCONSIN ACT 90 (pdf)   pawprint bullet point   DATCP Dog Breeders & Sellers Law web pages

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January 2012 adoption event photos © Copyright, 2012, Pat Crean, Flying Spots Photography.

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