So, you want a dog for Christmas? Well, so do millions of other families: Puppies simply bring so much warmth and delight into a home that it’s hard to imagine life without them once you’ve got one.But in a season when people’s hearts may turn to adding that little furball to your own family (sometimes as an inadvisable surprise gift), it’s important to get your dog in a responsible manner.ShutterstockLooking to buy a puppy this Christmas? Here are some tips to avoid puppy mills.Dogs may seem to be available everywhere: In shelters, in pet stores, on Craigslist and from a nearby breeder. But not all places are equal.It turns out that the sweet puppy you pick up could be riddled with health and behavior problems that might not surface for days or weeks, long after you’ve become attached.One big problem is the “puppy mill.” There’s no legal definition of what a puppy mill is, and there’s no comprehensive list you can check to make sure your new addition doesn’t come from one.MORE: Hesitant to adopt a dog? Here’s how I learned rescuing is a no-brainerElizabeth Oreck, national manager for puppy mill initiatives at Best Friends Animal Society, describes puppy mills as seedy breeding factories “where business takes precedence over a dog’s welfare.””It’s legal for dogs to be bred every cycle as long as they’re able, and they don’t have to be taken out of tiny, cramped wire cages even for a second — a cage only legally has to be six inches larger than the dog,” Oreck told TODAY.com.
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