“How Much Is that Doggie in the Window?” The Truth Behind Puppy Mills
From Tori Tyree. Questions? Leave a comment or email Tori at [email protected]. Her column on pets runs biweekly.
It’s not a secret that I’m a bit of an activist for animals. I was 10 years old when I first protested a pet shop that sold dogs. Puppy mills have been a known evil for as long as I can remember and yet just the other day a close friend of mine couldn’t wait to show me this cute pet shop she found. ” Just wait until you see the cute puppies! ” Apparently all it took was the look on my face for her to realize she had said something wrong.
How is it possible that 23 years later, there is still someone who doesn’t know better than to buy a dog from a pet store? I figured that if there is somebody who knows me so well that doesn’t know about puppy mills, there are several of my readers that don’t know about puppy mills as well.
What Are Puppy Mills?
The Humane Society of the United States defines puppy mills as “mass breeding operations” and, as you can imagine, the bottom line is only about money. Dogs are housed in smaller than adequate cages, usually crammed in with several other animals at a time and cleanliness is not a priority. Female dogs are often bred as frequently as nature allows which means they are almost always pregnant.
The newer generation of puppy mill owners have figured out that people are leery about buying from a pet store, so they have moved on to the same commercial avenue most businesses go: the Internet.
Puppies are taken away before they are properly weened so that the mother dog can start another litter. Some pups are not sold so that they can be the new stud dog and are often times bred back to their own mother or siblings. Once a female is no longer able to breed she is either euthanized or abandoned.
Occasionally these breeding facilities get raided or shut down after multiple violations. Shelter workers that take in these dogs have told me they usually are completely scared of simple things like walking on the ground because they’ve never felt grass, or towels to sleep on because they’ve never had bedding. Again, “mass breeding” is a business where the more dogs you create, the more money goes into the big business pocket. It’s not about the health or comfort of the animal.
I am not writing this article to make you completely depressed, but it’s important to know that these places still exist. The newer generation of puppy mill owners have figured out that people are leery about buying from a pet store, so they have moved on to the same commercial avenue most businesses go: the Internet.
Beautiful websites are filled with pictures of healthy animals, and happy rolling puppies. Don’t be fooled, though, just because a breeder will “ship you a puppy” doesn’t mean they are a legitimate breeder. Just recently a woman in Missouri was acting as a rescue group online with “adoption fees” of $250-$800″. As it turned out, she was simply selling the puppies from her own breeding facility!
Here is a very important fact to remember. There is no such thing as a reputable breeder who will sell to a pet store, or to you over the internet.
If you and your family are ready for a dog and have looked at all the rescue sites, visited your local animal shelter, contacted all the pure-breed rescue sites and still come to the conclusion that you would like a dog from a breeder then remember this checklist.
A reputable breeder will do these things:
- Asks you to come to them so that you can meet the puppies and see both the mother and father of the litter.
- Discusses possible genetic problems with the breed and gives you documentation that the parents and grandparents have not had any symptoms that could have been passed down the line.
- Has you sign a contract that states you will return the dog to them if you are no longer able to keep your pet.
- Shows you the breeding area and the area where the puppies have been living.
- May not always have puppies available, but will contact you if they become available.
This list is not complete, but is a bare bones minimum of what you should know. A complete checklist is available at The Humane Society of the United States website.