Maltese and Havanese are very similar, with the Havanese maybe a touch larger/sturdier, (depending on the individual... I have one who is Maltese size)) and a little less intense and yappy, in general, though again, that varies in both breeds.
If the "other" breeder you came across in RI was Royal Flush, run, don't walk. They are a puppy mill, pure and simple.
Pam Sowa (Quick Step) is a show breeder, and does all appropriate testing. There are a number of other good breeders in New England, though no one else has litters expected at the moment that I know of. It is pret
ty typical to talk to some breeders, get on a waiting list or two with breeders that you like, and wait for a puppy from a good breeder. It is really uncommon just to go out and "find" a good quality puppy when you first start looking. I waited a year to find my first one, had identified my breeder and waited 2 years for my second one, and scrambled to make it work out when the third showed up as "the right puppy at the wrong time."
For me calling a large commercial dog breeder a Puppy Mill when it does not fit the definition of a true Puppy Mill is a Conundrum.
A description of a Puppy Mill is where dogs are kept exclusively for breeding and treated inhumanly. They are typically subject to brutal treatment and poor conditions. Dogs are kept in wire cages with wire floors stacked 2, 3 or 4 high. Urine and poop fall on the dogs below. This is done to save space and allow more pets to be kept. The dogs are in poor health, fur is matted with urine and feces. They are not socialized and stay with their birth mothers until they are sold to pet stores around 6 weeks.
In Oklahoma, places like this are illegal and it has been illegal for Pet Stores to sell dogs or cats for some time.
It does not appear to me that Royal Flush meets the description of a Puppy Mill, except they are breeding dogs on a large commercial scale. They actually have a lot of positive reviews, provide six year health guarantees. AKC has inspected and approved their operation. RF do health checks, socializes the dogs and all the other things a smaller breeder does ... except they are much larger and while RF dogs don't live in a home environment, they appear to be in a clean, positive environment surrounded by caretakers.
I did not buy a dog from RF but I did buy Patti from a smaller commercial breeder similar to Tom's situation. They operate a horse ranch and breed dogs for profit. Their dogs are socialized have health guarantees, AKC registered, inspected, provide health guarantee. The are routinely visited by an AKC representative. I visited the operation twice and picked Patti up from there. I talked with the local AKC representative who had positive things to say about the opertation and quality of their dogs. Yet ... this operation has been called a Puppy Mill for a Havanese Group.
My point is this: Even though RF or commercial breeders are frowned up by many/some Havanese Advocates, I think to lump good commercial breeders who care about their dogs and strive to produce good quality pets and call them Puppy Mills ... is troublesome. Not everyone who wants to own a Havanese can locate or find a small Show Dog breeder, even though this is the ideal situation. So where are they going to buy a good quality and healthy Havanese? Hopefully, NOT from a Puppy Mill. Those businesses should be closed and the owners thrown in jail.
This is not a criticism for those who do not like commercial breeders, I just have a problem when they're called Puppy Mills.