Looking through the pet shop window at a bright eyed little puppy, the last thing most people think about is animal cruelty and many wouldn’t know that by buying that puppy they could be supporting it. Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass produce dogs for a profit. Because of this the welfare and health of the dogs often become last priority. Pet stores want to get their dogs for a low price so they can sell them for a bigger profit and in order to do this puppy mill owners don’t spend little on housing, vet care and other necessities so they can sell cheap. Many of them stay in business by selling to local pet stores and online websites. Most of the mill puppies sold from pet stores and online even come with false papers and seemingly real records.
The conditions in there puppy mills is horrifying. Hundreds of dogs crammed into stacked kennels and forced to live in their own filth. Some of these dogs have lived a kennel for so much of their lives that when they are rescued they don’t even know how to walk on solid ground. Many have sore and wounds from the cages. In severe cases the dogs have been bred so many times that some of the puppies come out without eyes or limbs due to over breeding. When parents are over-bred genes can become defective and cause
abnormalities. If the puppy mill is not caught these dogs are usually killed because they cannot be sold. Many of the rescued dogs are also sick and extremely thin and most have matted hair due to their living conditions.
Most puppy mill breeders usually sell to pet stores through a middle man or broker. NO pet store will admit buying from one and many will tell you they don`t using the middle man as a cover. Some people might feel ok about buying the puppy thinking they “saved” it but what they need to remember is that most of their money will go back to support the puppy mill they came from. Even though most mills are located in agricultural states like Missouri, Kansas, and South Dakota, they are sold to pet stores all over the country. The real victims of are not only the puppies who aren’t lucky enough to make it out alive but the adult dogs used to breed them. To the breeders they are nothing but machines. Many adult dogs will literally be bred to death, forced to have multiple litters every year. Many of the puppies sold to unsuspecting owners have behavioral and psychological problems, fears and anxiety and many more are sick. Puppies brought home from mills can be infected with worms and parasites or even have kennel cough or even more dangerous parvo.
So why aren’t their laws against it? There are, but they aren’t working. In 1966 The Animal welfare act was passed by congress, outlining minimum standards for dogs, and other animals being bred for “commercial “or “resale” purposes. But breeders who sell directly to the public are not affected. Enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture large scale “commercial” breeders are required to have a license and undergo inspections. But too many of these puppy mills have passed inspection with horrible conditions. Missouri’s “dirty dozen”, were selected as some of the worst licensed kennels in the state based on the number of violations the kennels have received. Remember all of them are licensed by the USDA, the state or both! But all have numerous violations against the health of their dogs, many with photos to support. The violations include everything from thin coated breeds like grey hounds shivering in severe weather, inadequate or no vet care to sick or dying dogs and even failing to dispose of already diseased animals. One kennel made the list because it stated in a USDA program for vet care that it intended to dispose of unwanted dogs by clubbing them. One hundred and seventy two was the average number of dogs and puppies at these twelve sites. And eight hundred and thirty is the number of pages in inspection violations these kennels had. Yet they are still running! Some kennels like this will drop their license after multiple violations but will just start selling directly to the public legally!! The atrocity committed by legislation that has failed to be carried out properly is sickening and the public is the only way to stop it.
These people stay in business that’s what it is to them, and as long as the public is buying from them they won`t stop! Many well meaning dog lovers have seen the cute little “puppy in the window” not knowing that they could be supporting one of the hundreds of puppy mills in the U.S. There are however many ways to get your new best friend while avoiding puppy mills. Rescue shelters put down hundreds of dogs every year, some even at young ages. Many shelters team up to have huge local adoption days, where you can spend the day browsing hundreds of adoptable dogs from the shelter. No matter what type of dog you want or what age you can find a good place to get your dog. If there is a specific breed you are interested in chances are they have breed specific non-kill rescues devoted to it , with all ages from puppies to already trained adults. Just look in your area and you would be surprised. Many purebred dogs like golden retrievers and labs have rescues devoted to them. Rescue dogs end up there for many reasons, if they were lost or abandoned, or even given by owners who love their pet but could no longer keep them. They can be rewarding and great ways to find a new best friend. A reputable rescue will have non-profit status be sanitary, provide vet care and spay or neuter all dogs and be knowledgeable about each pet.
If you want to buy from a breeder there are reputable breeders around you, sometimes it will be more costly but you are paying for the quality and will avoid future health problems too. If you are interested the humane society provides a list of reputable breeders based on their criteria for a good breeder. Other things to keep in mind when choosing a breeder: a good breeder will not sell a puppy less than eight weeks old. Puppies need eight weeks with their mom before they are ready to leave the nest. Also they should have a health guarantee of some sort and been started on their set of shots and de-wormed. Most good breeders will also require a contract of sale for the puppy that explains what they expect from you as an owner and require the dog is spayed or neutered. They should also be willing to be there to answer questions throughout the life of your dog. Above all you should be able to visit the puppies where they are being cared for and see the mom and the conditions of where they live. They should also be able to tell you how many litters the dog has every year and how long they have been breeding.
This is absolutely a real issue and Public knowledge is the best tool against this monstrous act. More needs to be done about the legislation and enforcement of this industry as well and the public can help with that too. If more people stopped buying from these places we could put them out completely.