Listing Puppy Mills

I have been accused of listing the web pages of puppy mills on my Norwich breeders web page; it is said that my listing them lends these puppy mills legitimacy and helps them advertise.

It is true that I try to list the web pages of anyone who claims to be a Norwich breeder. For those in the United States, I only differentiate breeders by their membership - or lack of membership - in the Norwich Terrier Club of America (NTCA).

I certainly believe that a puppy buyer should discuss the purchase of a puppy with the breeder; that a puppy purchase should not be an impulse buy. I believe that it is best to contact the national kennel club or national Norwich terrier club to find a breeder.

Many breeders do not have web pages. But the reality is that more and more, people are turning to the Internet as their means of searching for a breeder ... and investigating a breeder.

No one wants to purchase a dog from a "puppy mill". And the Internet is being used more and more as a way to investigate topics - including breeders. That is why I believe that a strategy of just ignoring these "puppy mills" is misguided. If one researches a breeder and hears nothing bad, what conclusion can be drawn?

I believe that responsible breeders should be exposing these puppy mills, not ignoring them.

Now there is no accepted definition of "puppy mill" ... and the phrase is thrown about too frequently by some breeders to disparage other breeders. No one likes to publically say something bad about another person for fear of being sued (technically being sued for slander). But slander can only be proven if what is being said is untrue. If one say something that is demonstrably true, one has nothing to fear from a lawsuit for slander. And the courts take a dim view of frivolous lawsuits; one can always counter-sue for expenses (with a good chance of winning).

So to those who say that I am promoting puppy mills, I say give me something verifiable that demonstrates that a certain breeder is a bad breeder ... and I will be happy to annotate their entry on my web page with that fact.

But if we do not want to say something bad, at the very least we can make it easy for a buyer - while researching a puppy mill - to find better breeders. This is the actual purpose of my Norwich breeders web page. My hope is that a person googling a puppy-mill Norwich breeder will find my web page of Norwich breeders ... and consider other possibilities. I am a firm believer that quality eventually rises to the top.

Breeders who do not take the time to talk to potential puppy buyers are a prime reason people go to puppy mills. Often so-called responsible breeders do not want to talk to someone that does a "cold" approach (an approach without some kind of introduction). I hear these stories all the time ... "I wrote to a bunch of breeders, but only one responded" ... "I tried to talk to the breeders at the dog show, but none had any time for me". (The latter happened to me when I was looking for my first Norwich - and I remember those breeders who gave me a cold shoulder.)

It is also instructive to look at the web pages of so-called puppy mills and then look at the web pages of so-called responsible breeders. How is the puppy-buying public to tell the difference? Both say that their dogs are raised in a loving environment, come from championship lines, come with a health guarantee, etc.

Which ones are the good breeders? Which are the bad breeders? And why?

I believe that the best way to differentiate between a responsible breeder versus the puppy mills and backyard breeders is to look at how many of their dogs are listed in one of the health registries - such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in the United States. Responsible breeders health test their dogs and make the results public; puppy mills and backyard breeders do not. For more details on how to differentiate, I recommend my Ten questions to ask Norwich breeders.

Blair Kelly