Thursday, October 13, 2011

Study Shows Puppy Mills Leave Lasting Emotional Scars

Via USAToday - The psychological damage suffered by dogs living in puppy mills is profound and exists long after they've been rescued, a new study shows.

"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," says Frank McMillan of Best Friends Animal Society, who conducted the research with James Serpell and Deborah Duffy of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. It will be published in an upcoming issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science.

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that lacking normal human contact and living with the pain and discomfort that are systemic in puppy mills leave these dogs with post-trauma-like behaviors. This is the first large study comparing mill survivors to dogs raised in homes.

The study compared owner-reported psychological and behavioral characteristics of 1,169 former breeding dogs recovered from puppy mills with those of 332 pet dogs without the mill history. The dogs from puppy mills showed significantly elevated levels of fears and phobias, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivity to being touched.

"The most prominent difference was in the level of fear," says McMillan. "Compared to normal pet dogs, the chance of scoring in the highest ranges for fear was six to eight times higher in the recovered puppy-mill dogs."

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Written by Sharon L. Peters
Photo via Best Friends Animal Society

Join us this Saturday, October 15 for Blog the Change Day. We are asking Petland USA to stop selling animals in their stores and fire puppy mills!


  1. I have heard of some bad stories with doggies obtained from pet shops that were no doubt born in a puppy mill.

  2. My 11 month old foster pup was from a pet store and born in a puppy mill. She has a licking compulsion. It's cute but can drive you around the bend!

  3. That's one of the things the canine behaviorist that I spoke with yesterday pointed out: the fear these animals exhibit when they arrive at the shelter is simply off the charts. They're literally immobilized by it.

    SO sad...puppy mills need to stop! I'm ashamed that KS & MO are two of the worst offenders, and so thankful we have local shelters that are actively working to counteract it.

    Thanks for sharing the article!