DES MOINES, Iowa — In a recent study Iowa was ranked number one in the nation for puppy mill violations.

Puppy mills are commercial breeding operations that have hundreds of dogs that are kept in inhumane conditions.

Joe Stafford, the Director of Animal Services at the ARL Iowa, said that most of the worst offenders are on the southern border of the state.

“A lot of these facilities are located along the southern border of Iowa and the northern border of Missouri. That’s not to say they’re not elsewhere. I think it’s a very conducive place for these activities meaning the regulations that exist, the way that those regulations are being enforced is lacking so they find it an easy place to do business,” Stafford said.

The best way to avoid supporting puppy mill operations when buying a pet is to buy a pet from a local reputable breeder. Check their reviews online and see in person how they treat their animals.

Adoption is another way to make sure pets aren’t being mistreated.

Stafford said that the way to change the high rates of puppy mill violations starts with the public speaking up.

“The way that we as citizens can drive that change is to let our voices be heard. This is an issue where individuals can and have made a difference by speaking up. Whether it’s to federal legislators or state legislators or local legislators and saying this is not okay. This is not acceptable, this is not conducive to what we believe as Iowans and pet owners and lovers, this is not what we want to happen in our state,” Stafford said.

To learn more about how to avoid supporting puppy mill operations or how to adopt a pet visit the ARL’s website.