Sadly, North Carolina does not currently have a law that bans puppy mills or backyard breeders. While there are certainly responsible breeders in the state, puppies offered for sale at pet stores, through classifieds, at flea markets and by neighbors could be cause for concern. Many of the animals offered for sale through such means could have been raised in horrendous conditions. They could be medically or behaviorally unfit to be adopted. That's why, for most consumers, the better choice is to adopt a dog from your local animal shelter or humane society.
Here are some facts about puppy mills you should know from The Puppy Mill Project, a nonprofit organization:
A puppy mill is a breeding operation that breeds dogs for profit, prioritizing financial gain over the health or well-being of the dogs. If a breeding operation breeds for profit and sells to pet stores or to consumers over the Internet, it is not a responsible breeding facility. While puppy mills may vary in size and conditions, any breeding operation that places profit over the health or well-being of the dogs can be accurately described as a puppy mill. We will never use the term puppy mill, commercial breeder, or puppy farm to describe a responsible, reputable breeder.
If a pet store claims it buys only from "licensed breeders," this doesn’t mean anything more than that the breeders are licensed to sell to pet stores and that they meet the USDA’s minimal standards. The USDA’s standards for care of companion animals are extremely minimal, and these standards are not adequately enforced. Pet stores will often tout that their puppies only come from the best USDA-licensed facilities, yet the conditions in USDA compliant facilities are often far below what most people would consider acceptable for companion animals.
Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for commercially-bred puppies. Pet stores are necessary to sustain and perpetuate the puppy mill industry. It is imperative to cut off the end of the supply chain to decrease the number of puppy mills. Further, pet stores are complicit in consumer fraud. Pet stores often misrepresent the true origins of their puppies and mislead consumers into believing that they are purchasing a responsibly and humanely-bred puppy. Focusing our educational and advocacy efforts on pet stores is an extremely effective way to fight puppy mills.