Extreme Heat Putting Puppy Mill Dogs in Danger

August 1, 2023

An older brown and black shaggy dog with two brown black and white puppies

Video taken during a USDA inspection at Royal Heritage Kennel in Missouri, a licensed commercial dog breeding facility.

“Blistering Heat” “Soaring Heat Index” “Scorching Heat Wave” 

It has been a record-breaking hot summer, especially in the Midwest, and many pet parents are taking special precautions to care for their dogs during extreme heat, such as keeping pets inside in the air conditioning, limiting outdoor time and making sure fresh water is always available. 

But dogs in puppy mills can't escape the extreme temperatures.

Puppy mills are spread out all over the U.S., though they are most concentrated in Midwestern states—the same states that have dominated the headlines for dangerous temperatures. 

Commercial puppy-breeding facilities often keep dogs in inhospitable and cruel conditions, like wire mesh cages stacked on top of each other in structures without air conditioning, or dogs are housed outdoors without adequate shade or water. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for licensing and overseeing these facilities to ensure they follow federal animal welfare standards. According to guidelines, fans, blowers or air conditioning must be provided for dogs in indoor facilities when the temperature reaches 85°F (or higher). That means that breeders housing dogs in facilities with a temperature hovering in the low 80s and no ventilation are still following the law.

The law requires dogs housed in outdoor facilities to have “shelter from the elements,” which means they must have a shelter where they can stand and lie down in the shade. Dogs can still be sweltering in the outdoor heat—and it’s completely legal—as long as they have a small structure that creates shade while the sun is beating down. If animals are kept this way, it is not written up by the USDA, and the facility is still considered “complaint” with the law. 

Despite these very meager and often dangerous guidelines from the USDA, licensed commercial breeders continue to break the law and keep dogs in even worse conditions in the heat. The USDA’s own records document examples of dogs suffering in puppy mills during extreme temperatures:

  1. notorious puppy mill breeder in Iowa abused hundreds of dogs for months on end. Inspectors documented temperatures taken throughout the facility ranging from 91°-97°F with a heat index of up to 125°F. Numerous adult dogs and puppies located throughout the facility showed signs of heat stress, including open-mouth breathing, high respiration rates and tongues extending out of the mouth beyond the teeth. Dogs in outdoor facilities were lying in muddy liquid waste—the only area of shade in the enclosure. 
  2. In a facility in Hartville, Missouri, dogs and their puppies were found exhibiting signs of distress from the heat, lying with their heads outstretched and mouths as wide open as possible, panting heavily and curling close to the water bowl. The temperature outside was 98°F and the temperature in the building where the dogs were kept was 95.6°F. 
  3. A breeder in Hillsboro, Wisconsin, told inspectors that stove vents had been left open overnight in the facility where the dogs were housed. The indoor thermometer reported it to be 146°F that night, and 26 puppies were found dead the next morning. 
  4. In South Butler, New York, the temperature outside was 91°F and the temperature inside the breeding facility was 88°F. The temperature didn’t drop throughout the inspection, and the majority of the dogs were panting in the kennel. The inspectors felt the dogs were overheated. There were 290 dogs in the facility at this time. 
  5. In Uniontown, Kansas, inspectors measured the temperature inside the building where dogs were housed as 88.2°F, and four hours later when the inspectors measured it again, it had increased, ranging between 90.2°-93.2°F. There were 20 dogs and puppies housed in this building who were panting and had elongated “spoon-shaped” tongues. 

Cruel puppy mill operators strive to produce the highest number of puppies at the lowest possible cost. These breeders put profit over animals’ wellbeing, and the USDA tuns a blind eye to the suffering. Demand change and join our Puppy Mill Action Team today! You will receive the latest news and find out what YOU can do to help end the puppy mill industry.