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Oprah on Puppy Mills

Written by PETA | April 4, 2008

Oprah Winfrey is going to be tackling puppy mills on her show today, so be sure to check it out (or Tivo it) if you get a chance. Puppy mills, which keep large quantities of purebred dogs in overcrowded, often shockingly inhumane conditions, are a well-kept secret of the pet-trade industry, and the animal protection community is extremely grateful to Oprah for exposing this major cause of pet overpopulation to a wide audience.

It’s standard practice for puppy mills—which supply animals to pet stores and purebred enthusiasts, without any concern for the millions who will die in shelters as a result—to keep animals in constant confinement, without proper veterinary care or socialization. It’s common to hear stories of puppy mills that are shut down on cruelty to animals charges (I posted about one a couple of weeks ago), but it’s nowhere near common enough—and these sordid operations will continue to thrive for as long as people support them by purchasing animals from pet stores or seeking out purebred animals from breeders.

You can find out what time the show will be airing where you live on Oprah’s site, and there’s more information about puppy mills, and you can learn more about PETA’s campaign to help companion animals here.

Charlize Theron on Puppy Mills for PETA

Commenting is closed.
  • Pit Bull Protector says:

    OH MY GOSH! Finally! Now if only she’ll do a show on Chicago’s bad Pit Bull problem.

  • KaDillac says:

    so what’s up here huh why hasn’t someone done something about the puppy mill issue? you guys are worried about eating meat and millions of dogs are getting abused and sold in pet stores nation wide!!! I am 21 from fort myers florida and i wanna help change this industry that has been conveniently overlooked for far to long!! Kyle DeGroot. one person can only change them self but but people can change the world!

  • Rachel says:

    Hey Maya CVT not all small animals are bred in mills. Ok the ones in petsmart are! But small locally run pet stores take very good care of their small animals like this store near me caller herpetan and this other store called Zookeeper localy breeds their small animal and hey are taken very good care of also to kelly it is not OVER doing it by saying NOT to breed or buy at all cuz your 2 purebred dogs cost 2 mutts their life and it seems like you don’t even care.

  • gen-gen says:

    this is sooo big!! my motheran animals eater god P she never listens to me when i tell her about this kinda stuff goin on in the world she says PETA is being over dramatic and not 2 listen to themwhich of course i do but once OPRAH says somthing she’ll deffenitly listen shes an oprah finnatic

  • Ji says:

    It’s ridiculous how these dogs and puppies are treated… It’s ridiculous how they don’t get fresh food and water.. and those that are hurt or are suffering from diseases… Humans aren’t like this so animals shouldn’t either… I hope these dogs and puppies get treated better and not get killed after the dogs breed.

  • Jayne says:

    I agree with Ms. Lanphar Oprah needs to stick her neck out further. Perhaps if she’d make a visit to the Amish people and see it first hand and not on video she might get off of her couch and do some very real good.

  • April says:

    Well hallelujah the Queen of Talk finally did a show on puppy mills. Animal rights activists have only been BEGGING her to do this for years. What took so long? And for the record why did she buy three pure bred Golden Retrievers I believe from a BACKYARD BREEDER?!? She introduced the three puppies on her opening show in 2005. I’ve been disgusted by her ever since but this makes up for it a little. She needs to more and more often. If Oprah loves animals so much with all her money she should start a spayneuter program nationally for low income people. She’s good at giving away other people’s money namely corporations other than her own. She did a good thing on the puppy mill show but I don’t trust her. She’s a phony hypocrite.

  • Julia Lanphar says:

    I too saw Oprah’s show and since have had only sleepless nights thinking about these neglected and abused animals. Amazingly I had never heard of puppy mills.Now I ask myself what can I do to immediately impact this corrupt and horribly inhumane business. I know it is a small beginning but I have begun sending out emails to friends informing them of this issue and I will begin volunteering at my local shelter.Let us all do what we can to put an end to these hideous practices.

  • Maile Aloha says:

    Annalena I work in a vets office I deal with breeders all the time. Most do not wait until after 2 years to breed their dogs and do not secure safe homes for the puppies. They want to breed in the first heat cycle so they can start selling puppies and make money. Good for you for working at a shelter to help homeless dogs and cats find good homes and for the loving home that you provide for your dog. We view breeders differently. I deal with them on a daily basis where they vaccinate puppies to early to add on to the price selling price and try to dictate and overide the doctors medical decisions for the puppies. Most people who buy puppies from breeders puppy mills and pet stores usually don’t do any research on the breed they are buying and after a year or less and after the novelty has worn off or when the dog turns out not to be of the personality or temperment that they expected will bring the dog in to have it euthanized. And yes maybe population control of humans would be a good idea as well as dogs and cats. Every purebreed dog that a breeder sells is a death sentence for a dog waiting to be adopted.

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:

    Could you please sign this petition to stop puppy mills on Care 2? Thank you all so much. httpwww.thepetitionsite.competition460678104 Thank you all so very much Judith

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Hi Annalena! Absolutely and yours sounds like a wonderful doggie home! Aren’t mixed breeds the best? The main problem with any breeder even really responsible ones is that there is no way to predict who might give up their purebred to a shelter one day. Some breeders don’t neuter the pets before they sell them. When I worked for the MSPCA people would had me the paperwork from the breeder they bought it from. The contract would say to neuter the pet and the owner who was now giving up the cat or dog clearly broke the agreement. I would regularly see purebreds given up with litters even though the breeder blindly trusted people to neuter the pet. Even without a litter people who buy from breeders and surrender pets to the shelter are dooming another cat or dog to death I’ve seen people actually fight over the last purebred dog or cat even though we had over 150 mixed breeds waiting for homes. You are one of the very responsible pet owners so I’m sure you know what I mean. Peace to you and your companions!

  • Annalena says:

    Maile Aloha I am not advocating the purchase of purebreds simply because people like the look of the breed.No the children are not euthanized but they may suffer an even worse fate of neglectabuse or starvation. Should no new children be brought into the world until all of the orphans are adopted. Someone may die from bloodloss because somebody else did not donate blood when they could same for organs marrow etc. Would you call these people murderers? Yes I do work at my local shelter and am horrified daily by what I see.It is hard to take but seeing dogs adopted makes it worthwhile.There is a difference between a puppy mill and a breeder who raises the pups in a warm bed at home breeds the dogs only when they are about two years and secures a safe home for all the pups. I encourage everyone to love a shelter animal if they want a companion. I am saying that we should NOT starve or sacrafice everything. The world is so tangled that many actions can have a negative cost without intention such as a dog being euthanized instead of adopted.And people should make themselves aware of this situation before running over to a breeder.Again I advocate adoption! My own canine companion was an abused shelter puppy. He was traumatized from being locked in a dark basement with little food or interaction for his early life. I despise nothing more than an irresponsible owner. People need to start spaying and neutering and putting some effort into their relationship with an animal. Last week a poodle was dropped off because the family was having their house fixed up and did not want the decor and furniture ruined. Another family brought in a baby dachshund because it did not toilet train as quickly as they wanted. An animal is no small trifle that can simply be discarded. I truly am horrified by beautiful cats and dogs being euthanized.To see them tossed away in garbage bags is horrifying.

  • Karma says:

    Oprah may not be an activist or a true animal lover at least in my opinion but at least she educates those that are ignorant to the world. I was suprised by how many of my friends said they were shocked by what they saw on the Oprah special. They had NO IDEA puppy mills existed. I wondered how they were MY friends After I got over THAT shock I was happy to hear they had been educated. Even though it made me cringe a little that it came from the Big O I know they will never buy from a pet shop. Oprah despite her faults can do great things by just getting a word out. She is a motivator to the unmotivated. I don’t know how she does it she is able to move people and make them think. If she has motiviated or even just educated ONE person from her special on Puppy Mills then that is enough. I believe that one person can make a difference. And maybe that person happened to be watching Ophrah. And maybe they decided after seeing what she had to show they wanted to DO something. Maybe they become the ONE person that brings this cruelty to an end. They are the person that bring a true victory to those that can’t fight for themselves. Or maybe just one couple decides to save a soul at a shelter rather than buying from a Pet Shop. That is enough. At least Oprah did SOMETHING. now if only we can get her on the anti fur bandwagon. Keep on hoping and speaking and fighting for those that can’t….and if Oprah has joined the fight…so be it. There are worse things that could happen. this post is in memory of Karma….a beautiful loving Pit Bull who was adopted at the age of 2 months and died of Juvenile Lymphoma at 1 12 years old. RIP Ladybug!

  • nancy says:

    Hello I watched the show on friday. I was so choked. It’s so digusting to see so many dogs suffering. I cried. I told to myself that I can’t change the situation. But I can make a difference. I’ve decided to give few hours per week to a wonderfull shelter. I was so sad to learn that almost 99 of puppies sold in petshop come from that horrible factory. I won’t encourage petshop anymore. Sorry my english is not my mother langage… nancy

  • Veronica says:

    I know nobody usually reads this far down on the posts but… I really appreciated Oprah’s piece about puppy mills. For somebody who may not have known a great deal about puppy mills adoption spayneuter and similar issues it was absolutely great. I would describe myself as a hardened animal rights person I’ve seen all of the videos and some firsthand experience with very sad animal abuseneglect situations and even I was bawling when they euthanized two dogs on air. For the general public to see something like that is extremely thought provoking. And she went beyond just adopting they advocated for adopting the old and ugly the limping and injured. Yay to Oprah for the great work. And everybody please adopt and snip!!!

  • Maile Aloha says:

    Annalena They don’t euthanize children without homes just because they are homeless. And as for not eating because there are people who are starving is stupid. So we should all starve to death? If you really do work at your local SPCA you should know better than anyone that NOONE should every buy a dog or cat. And if someone is looking for a purebreed that they are available at their local shelter. There is a rescue organization for every breed of dog or cat. Every dog that is bought from a breeder puppy mill or pet store is a death sentence to a dog waiting at shelter to be adopted.

  • Annalena says:

    Hello Kelly and Mya. I agree with you. Puppy Mills are deplorable! I do not think that anyone should ever buy from a pet store with live animalshave you seen the fish tanks with wire bottoms with puppies in them at Pet Land?However not all breeders are worthy of condemnation. There are breeders who are very dedicated to all their dogs. Yes breeding is mostly our human vanity but I do not think every breeder is money crazed and insensitive.Maya I know what you mean about shelters. Many people come in looking for a pretty purebred only to return them next week. There are plenty of delightful dogs and cats that are just as nice as the purebreds in my shelter with fantastic personalities.My sweet pooch is a mixed fellow.Dog shows can also be rather sad I hate seeing the dogs treated like ornaments!

  • Carla Pinnelli-Marsh says:

    After adopting a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri I am so grateful that Oprah did that show. I could barely watch with tears running down my face. Waking up in the middle of the night thinking about all those horrible people running those awful inhumane places. Those poor animals. Why aren’t they illegal? I don’t understand.

  • kelly says:

    Annalena people who BREED AND TORTURE DOGS TO MAKE MONEY are a very big problem those are puppy mills! and anyone who buys from pet stores or online is SUPPORTING THAT TORTURE. There is something very wrong with those people!

  • Linda Marx says:


  • Maya, CVT says:

    Annalena hi there! I don’t think that purebred dog owners are the issue I think it is more where they get them from. The shelter I worked at like most shelters had 30 to 40 percent purebreds and there are dozens of breed rescues where one can adopt a purebred. Sadly people would come in and ignore mixed cats and dogs because they were gaga over the purebreds given up by breeders and people who adopted from breeders but got bored with the pet or moved and couldn’t keep them any more. Out of 7000 cats at our shelter more than half were euthanized and those 50 to 60 percent represented all the stray cats. Not one single stray cat was adopted from our shelter. That’s because people could not resist the siamese persian maine coon all adopted at the shelter leaving the mixed breeds and strays to be destroyed. The original shelters were for stray cats and dogs sadly now they are dumping grounds for breeders and folks who own purebreds but don’t want them any more. So if someone has a purebred from a shelter or breed rescue of course we love them! And I’m sure PETA loves them too! We just wish that people would stop breeding them and dumping them at shelters so that the poor strays would get a chance of being adopted. Peace!

  • Annalena says:

    I watched the program and cried as well. I work at my local SPCA and can relate to the situation. However it is not fair to attack people with purebred dogs. You can not blame people who have their own children when there are so many children in need of homes and love some of whom may die due to your choice. How can you enjoy a snack when you know there are people who are starving to death while you eat? You have to draw the line somewhere.Unless you work every moment to give to others what you have you can not call others evil for chosing a purebred dog. Yes I think people should adopt from shelters but purebred dogs are not the major issue here. It is people not spaying or neutering their pets and overall not giving a damn about animal welfare.It is people who dump their pooch at a shelter for an accident in the house or simply because they are bored. I know plenty of people with purebred and shelter dogs.

  • Ginger says:

    I thought I’d never say this but THANK GOD for Oprah. xD

  • Alan Serlin says:

    I hope she does a followup show or more to see what effect this info had on the people looking for a best friend. I ofcourse think shelters are the best place to go. God bless her the guy on the show for doing Something !

  • Christine says:

    THANK YOU! I have been waiting for something like this to arise. I worked at a pet store which bought from puppy mills EVERYTHING SAID AND MORE IS TRUE ABOUT PET STORES and this needed to be heard nation wide aswell as internationally. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Stefany Calkins says:

    It is great that Oprah finally did a show on the abuse behind puppy mills. But there is so much more. Since she is a dog lover I often wonder why she hasn’t done a show on animal testing vivisection the fur industry abuse in circuses or the abuse behind factory farming. The thing is that people have not seen pictures or videos on these issues. If Oprah showed these pictures and videos on these subjects a lot of people would be in shock. Some people just ignore these issues and pretend that it doesn’t exist so they could go on contributing to the problem. BUT IT DOES EXIST…all over the country. We should cherish all animals on this earth. After all IT IS JUST “US AND THEM”.

  • carolyn says:

    this Oprah episode was beyond devastating!! when they showed the shelters and the dogs being put down I just bawled. That many dogs and cats being put down a year in a shelter just horrible. why should the animals suffer and die because their ignorant owners did not get them Spayedneutered?

  • Lynn Ann Matthews says:

    i watched that and it broke my heart.

  • kelley says:

    I created an account for myself on Oprah’s website so I could mention just what you said Kelly. I mentioned that she SHOULD have questioned where the papers come from and why the AKC fights mandatory spayneuter. I am glad she showed animals being euthanized due to overpopulation. This is what people need to see. I got into an argument with a coworker a few years ago because her cat was not neutered. I said she should have to spend a day killing animals then maybe she would understand.

  • Gerry Ardigliano says:

    Do not get your hopes up about Oprah. She is not the slightest bit of an activist her past has shown this. Remember that after she won the beef trial 10 years ago she let this industry on her show again twice WITHOUT presenting the opposing view. Her whole life is about completely NOT bucking the status quoa. She sticks to SAFE causes that does not infringe on the profits of other millionaires and billionaires like herself. Simply there is so much that she does NOT care about its pitiful.

  • Holly says:

    Its sickening. I live in Pennsylvania and did not realize there were puppy mills close by run by the Mennonite and Amish and others. Thank You Oprah for taking up this cause. But dont stop with dogs and hamburger Please stop wearing fur’s Oprah.

  • Diana Hanson says:

    We need to make a law to stop pet mills and stop the pet stores taking in the pets and be ay for doing it.

  • Tamara says:

    I dunno I saw the Oprah piece. For some reason I think it was “glossed over”. But maybe that is because those of us who deal with this or work against this everyday have seen the images and know what it looks like and what is going on. I would like to hear the perspective of someone other than Oprah who didn’t know much or anything about this. There were some images I will never get out of my head though. When the animal control officer walked the dog to the room for “euthanasia” God I hate the cutesy terms it is killing plain and simple. “PTS” is even worse. Anyway when the dog got to the room he just stopped and refused to go in. I have read so many times the doomed dogs always do this. To see it was something different. Also how they weighed the dog muzzeled the dog prepared the needle… Then according to the animal control officer the dog’s body was put in a “body bag”.. Excuse me but those looked like TRASH BAGS to me not “body bags”… I have seen photos of piled up dogs not in bags but to see a dog have to go through the process of being killed. That is something I will never forget. And really I am one of the “lucky” ones I don’t have to see this or do this everyday…

  • Lindsay says:

    I have never cried so much watching one of Oprahs shows. It’s so great that she decided to show the nation what really happen in puppy mills. I just don’t get it how people can do that to dogs it’s horrible. I really hope this episode will make a difference! I also agree with doing a show on fur it’s badly needed.

  • lynda downie says:

    Bullydawg yF Jaclyn and Judith you guys have summed up my thoughts on the issue.

  • HannaBanana says:

    Oprah wears fur? NASTY She’ll still rule in my book if she doesn’t wear fur. Sad. Puppy Mills are depressing. I love the dogs at the shelter…I have been wanting to volunteer but I’m worried I’d take them all home….crap I should go anyway.

  • Tamara says:

    Lexi while you are putting those flyers in pet stores that sell dogs and cats… please put them in stores that sell ANY kind of animal. Those little furries gerbils hamsters etc. and BIRDS are bred in mills as well. I am not sure about reptiles are they millbred or mostly wildcaught? Either way is bad. There are birds little furries reptiiles ferrets…every kind of pet store animal is in a shelter and has a rescue devoted to their kind. Those animals would appreciate your compassion also. And you arent’ looking very hard if you say puppies are not easy to find in shelters. What shelters are you looking in girl? They are mostly puppies! Especially this time of year they are starting. There are also those free sites like Craigslist just TEEMING with puppies. Open your eyes. You can get one free from there. You don’t find many PUREBREED puppies but there are puppies galore in these places. Believe me. Where are you looking?

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Oprah is a great woman but not a great environmental or animal advocate. I beleive that Martha Stuart is the real hero in that crowd. She has had many amazing articles about animal care in her magazine Living. One article was about protecting your furniture the article very eloquently stated why cats should NOT be declawed. She also had ways to protect native birds and other articles encourage people to adopt from shelters. Oprah sadly is inconsistent especially with the environmental movement. Her dynasty and magazine have been slow to change and I think that if we examine closely we will see many contradictions. As Judith said the fur is one of them. Not condemning it is the same as approving of it.

  • Maile Aloha says:

    To Lexi You have a lot of nerve to write a comment on the Peta site. The two puppies you bought cost two dogs that were waiting to be adopted from a shelter their lives. So you are evil and irresposible. I work in a veterinarians office and everyday I see people who paid a whole lot of money for their purebred dogs who do not take care of their dogs or complain about the cost of veterinary care and opt out of vaccines medication and other necessary veterinary care. I have also see irresponsible owners who buy their dogs only to give try to sell them give them away or come in to have them euthanised just because they are not puppies anymore and are not cute. Or when the novelty wears off. With all the money that you spent on buying your dogs you could have adopted a perfectly good dog from the shelter and donated the rest of the money to charity.

  • kellyy says:

    Knock knock! Hello Lexi! Anyone home?? Those pet store puppy mill puppies are often AKC registered. And the puppy mill puppies are getting sold for often thousands of dollars. And AKC people are in PA opposing rules for the puppy mills. The AKC has puppy mill bloood on their hands. And they convince the weak and stupid to support their activities.

  • lizc says:

    I’m sorry but you cannot call yourself an ‘animal lover’ of which OW apparently does.. if you wear fur.. !! or is it she just likes fluffy cute spaniels and just dogs and coudln’t care less about the poor foxes and minx and raccoon dogs and all the ohters ? aferall..they’re animals too?..aren’t they? Dear Oprah.. PLEASE WOULD you SHED the FUR?????? if you love animals ie. all of them.. as you say you do.. you wouldn’t support the ghastly brutal fur trade!

  • Michelle says:

    I think it is so sad that this is brought to attention now. Why not years and years ago. Just looking at the commercial for today’s show was pathetic. The look of shock not only on Oprah’s face but the audiences. How can people be so ignorant. I have no plans on watching her show as I was well educated on this brutality years ago. At least….finally maybe this will push people to “wake up” and take action.

  • Rex's Mom says:

    I never watch Oprah because I am probably in the minority but I dont particularly like her. She is everywhere! I am so tired of seeing her on tv all the time. BUT I did watch this show because she does have a huge audience. It was a very sad show and I did have tears in my eyes. But that man who had the billboard put up so Oprah could see it really made me angry when he said that they have no problem with reputable breeders because his organization doesn’t get their dogs. Any breeder reputable or not still steals the chances of millions of dogs who are euthanized in shelters every year. The Humane Society is a good group but in some cases they promote hunting. I heard years ago that Oprah would give her friends fur coats for their birthdays. I hope she will rid her closets of furs and maybe PETA could send her some tapes of what happens to animals who are either bred on fur farms or trapped in the wild.

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:

    I never watch Oprah but at least she is going to talk about this with Lisa Ling. I also wish she would stop wearing fur. But thank goodness this is getting the attention it so badly needs.

  • Lexi says:

    I think its great that Oprah is taking on the ugliness of puppy mills. They are disqusting. I have never bought a pet at a pet store…all my cats are shelter cats but I do have two purebred dogs….a Sheltie and a Havanese. There is nothing “wrong” with getting a purebreed…usually they cost so much that irresponsible owners would never spend that kind of money on a dog they didn’t intend to take care of. As usual Peta takes things to far that’s why many people will not listen to what Peta has to say because they have no respect from the public when the public sees how they take everything way to far. The AKC isn’t the monster that its being portrayed as. The States are the problem…..its a huge problem here in PA…we need to get those letters out to our state reps and show our outrage for the lack of laws they have regarding any type of animal abuse. Don’t forget to boycott those pet stores….I put fliers in places when I find one that sells puppies or kittens. I just leave the fliers in places in the store where other people will see them and realize the horror behind all those “cute” baby animals. But please don’t think that those of us who own purebred dogs are evil…for me I wanted puppies and unfortunately puppies aren’t easy to find at the shelters. Do what you can to help the animals but don’t get all over what other people choose to do if they are responsible pet owners. Sometimes Peta just goes to far for the average person to get behind the cause.

  • kelly says:

    The AKC makes its money from puppy mill registrations. And oh yes they also sell microchips to puppy mills I just found out. So the AKC opposes rules and laws for breeders to protect their puppy mill associates. Puppy mills need to abuse dogs to decrease costs to profit the most and AKC needs as many registration fees as possible. So AKC says that breeders should be able to hide not have licenses not get inspected not get vet treatment for their dogs. What a business. Any wonder the puppy mill situation goes on?

  • Jaclyn says:

    This is huge.

  • yF says:

    I wish she would do a programme on fur !! unless.. lest not she’s a fur wearer herself.. gulp! which I was led to believe a while ago.. why this programme would be IDEAL!!.. her adoring fans are primarily women are they not? jsut Oprah to utter the words’.. ‘hey women.. listen up.. lets’ stop the suffering.. no more fur.. go faux.. ‘ she’d have them all scrabbling off to the nearest faux fur shop or hanidng in their furs as donation to the nearest animal charity org .. PLS Oprah.. educate your fawning audience.. eps the women!!! NO MORE FUR!!! Fur is dated.. fur is last decades look.. fur is FAUX PAS !!

  • karla says:

    People are sick for doing that to dogs. I think people who run puppy mills deserve to be stuck in a crate and driven insane. Dogs need love and to be taken care of. If people stopped breeding dogs like crazy and had their dogs fixed then there would be a much better chance of all the homeless dogs being adopted instead of put to sleep when no one wants them. Its so heartbreaking to live in a world with so much animal cruelty. People need more of a heart more love towards animals.

  • BullyDawg says:

    WooHOO! Man for those of you who have been under a rock the last 15 years this is HUGE exposure for this cause. I mean it’s OPRAH. The same woman who ten years ago did an expose on beef and mad cow and said she’d never eat a hamburger again and then got sued by the Cattlemen’s Association because she’s so influential! Unfortunately that whole thing also gave us Dr. Phil but hey ya gotta take the bitter with the sweet sometimes!