Finding Fido – The CFHS Works to Counteract Puppy Mills


Trying to find a new four-footed best friend is serious business! We can’t just walk to the end of our driveway and expect the perfect mate to be waiting there for us like when we were kids. When looking to bring a pet into our lives, we do the research, start the search and then use our instincts to find “the one”.

Finding a pet responsibly is a key ingredient in bringing a new pet home.  Barbara Cartwright, the Executive Director at the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) has seen and heard a lot of new pet stories that don’t have happy endings. From puppy mills to cross-breeding disasters. One of the primary roles of the CFHS is to give prospective pet owners the knowledge and information that is crucial to sourcing a new pet. It’s this kind of valuable information that can help you avoid having to surrender your adoptive puppy or full-grown dog at a later date. That’s what their Finding Fido program is all about.

As Cartwright says, “We want to be sure that when you choose a pet, that you bring home the right dog for you in every respect, and that you avoid buying - often unwittingly - from a puppy-mill”. 

According to Cartwright, one of the most common mistakes people make is shopping for dogs strictly online. She outlines this oh-so-common scenario: “The new owner sees a dog they like on Kijiji or some other site, and makes contact by email or briefly on the phone. It’s then suggested they meet at the mall or some similar public location. The person meets, has a fly-by-night encounter with their would-be ‘breeder’, purchases the dog, takes it home, and falls in love, all in a matter of minutes. Only later they discover they’ve bought a pet that was improperly bred and can have a host of associated congenital, medical and often even serious behavioural problems.” 

Buying from a puppy-mill can be more like gambling on a life-long relationship with a pet that may eventually break your heart, because they can ultimately turn out to be too difficult to handle or too expensive to treat. It’s the kind of painful experience that can forever change your mind about the seemingly simple process of purchasing a puppy.

“Most people don’t know that these puppy mills are out there, but we hear these stories all the time” says Cartwright, “and so do our members”.

Another common problem is sympathetic dog lovers who actually have the chance to visit what turns out to be a mill. “They go to a puppy mill, see the puppies living in poor conditions and their immediate reaction is to want to save one or get it away from those people.” Remarks Cartwright. “These puppy mills rely on this kind of deception and on your sympathy to survive”. A reputable breeder is typically registered with the Canadian Kennel Club, so it should be a red-flag if your prospective breeder isn’t. 

“In Canada we don’t have strong federal legislation to shut the puppy-mills down” states Cartwright. “Not at the criminal code level at least – we’re getting there though.” 

In the meantime, the CFHS through its partnership with Pets Plus Us, and other animal health-related organizations wants to assist Canadian pet consumers by helping them make decisions that cut out the market for puppy mill pups, whose support of these unethical enterprises is completely unintentional. According to Cartwright, that’s the whole concept behind educating prospective puppy owners through the Finding Fido Program. “What Canadians don’t realize or want to think about is that puppies are a market” says Cartwright. “If we cut out the demand, we’ll stop the supply.”

Finding Fido is an initiative to help stop the market for puppy mill puppies through education programs, communication and an interactive website – helping future owners to bring their best friend into their lives in an ideal and safe way. Learn more: Visit