A female dog whines in the back corner of the dark enclosure. She
pants heavily in the heat of the blackened shed, unable to escape
into a cooler location. With the rare beam of sunlight from the
cracks in the walls particles of dust and other debris can be seen
floating in a continued stream throughout the damp air. Ventilation
to the building is almost none and the overpowering odor inside
emanates of stale ammonia, feces, and decay. The female rises on
atrophied legs covered in raw sores and a multitude of flies jump
at her movement. Her nails are overgrown, almost curving under her
cracked and swollen pads. Her stiff movement also tells of severe
hip dysplasia in her hind legs making movement painful. Her eyes,
which ooze pus from each corner have become acclimated to the pitch
darkness of the enclosure and she has become numb to the pain of
hunger. Her ribs protruded grotesquely from her emaciated figure.
Even though she can hardly support her own life, new life is stirring
within her. Four weeks ago she was mated with a male in equal conditions
to herself. Her coat is almost gone from the scaroptic mange that
has infested her exterior coat for months. Her eyes once full of
the sparkle of puppyhood are now dull and lack response to any stimuli,
although at only two year of age she is hardly more than a puppy
herself. Her previous litter weaned only weeks before she was rebred
for this upcoming litter. In another corner lays her kennel mate,
or what is left of her kennel mate. Now reduced to a decaying mass
in layers of old feces. Maggots feed upon the dead body with zest.
Welcome to life in the death camp.
have just been introduced the conditions of a puppy mill. While
almost no one would knowingly support this type of inhumane treatment
of animals, many do so each year buy buying a "product."
Puppy milling is a multimillion dollar business in the United States.
Obviously no one would buy a dog in this females conditions, yet
millions of people buy the product that she and other female dogs
produce each year- puppies.
Who has not been taken in by that adorable puppy sitting in the
pet shop begging you to be bought? One fact that many people do
not realize about these pet-store cuties are that at least 90% of
them are a product of these mass production farms. The term "puppy
mill" is exactly what it is. Most of these "businesses"
churn out puppies like an assembly line. In almost all cases the
goal of a puppy mill is to make money with little or no care about
the welfare of the puppies that they sell. With these types of conditions
it is no surprise that besides holding a hefty sale price this new
pet often comes with extra expenses that can not be seen on the
surface. Most puppies bought from pet stores will develop problems
sometime in their life as a result of poor breeding practices and
unsanitary conditions prior to their arrival in the pet store. According
to a 1990 California study more than half of the out-of-state puppies
bought from pet stores were ill, or became ill, soon after being
purchased. This does not take into account temperamental problems
that also are rampant in many pet store puppies.
largest number of puppy mills are located in the mid-western state,
but no state is immune to these operations. Although the situation
above is a description of one of the most severe conditions that
can be found at a puppy mill, it is a surprisingly common scene
for these production plants. The females are almost always bred
at their first heat cycle of six to twelve months and bred continually
without break between each litter of puppies and the next heat cycle.
The females generally "wear out" by the time they are
four to six years old at which age they are often destroyed. In
some cases only the lucky ones are destroyed with euthanasia and
the unlucky ones, well cheaper methods are used. Often times the
males are kept in equivalently poor conditions as the females. The
dogs are almost always kept in small, cramped cages, often with
wire bottoms, which can cause permanent damage to a dogs feet. Many
times they are kept outside with only a thin piece of plywood as
protection from the elements. Others are kept in sheds with very
poor lighting and ventilation.
Malnutrition is also common. In many cases the dogs in a puppy
mill are fed the minimum to keep them alive and producing. The less
food that has to be bought, the higher the profit margin for the
seller. Often the females are only well fed when they are suckling
puppies. The food is almost always the cheapest that can be bought,
often not meeting the dogs nutritional requirements. In almost all
cases neither males or females receive adequate veterinary care.
Many are not vaccinated properly or wormed to rid them of internal
parasites. Almost no puppy millers bother with pre-breeding vet
inspection or post parturition care. No genetic tests are conducted
on the vast majority of producing dogs. This greatly increases the
chance of the puppy developing a genetic disorder like hip dysplasia
or progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which causes blindness. Although
these genetic diseases do not effect all breeds of dogs, no breed
is immune to genetic problems, that can often be screened for by
tests, but tests cost money that most puppy mills are not willing
to put out.
four to eight weeks of age the puppies are generally removed from
their mother and transferred to a puppy broker. This person is the
middle man between the puppy mill and the pet store. He will often
keep the puppy a short while to "fatten them up," and
then they are shipped off to occupy that little cage in the store
that you see them in. Many puppy mill puppies are shipped great
distances to pet stores throughout the USA in crammed crates without
quality food or water. Most of these puppies are between the age
of four to six weeks of age, because they are so cute at this age,
and easier to sell, but also very susceptible to disease. They are
shipped for as long as a week at a time with inadequate care. Many
of these puppies have also received none or too few vaccinations
before being shipped. They are shipped in large groups and exposed
to other puppies that may also carry internal parasites or contagious
diseases that are passed easily from one puppy to another.
In this puppy's short life it has not experienced very much of
the outdoors. Its experiences with people have been almost all negative,
and it has not been socialized to other dogs either. The puppy may
not have ever been outside of the cage with its mother . It may
not have ever seen grass and almost certainly not the carpet of
a house. It has been taught to relieve in the same place that it
sleeps and eats. This early conditioning can make house training
a big challenge. Most likely this puppy has never been inside of
a house before. What about walking on a leash or having its toenails
clipped? These are things that a pet store puppy will almost for
sure never have experienced, and will be much more difficult to
train when the puppy is eight to twelve weeks old than if the puppy
had experienced them from a younger age. Responsible breeders socialize
their puppies to the outside world well before they are sold to
Where do puppy mills get their breeding stock you might ask? Many
of their dogs are bought at public auctions. Others are bought from
people in duress trying to get rid of their dog in a hurry for a
cheap price. A few are even stolen from their owners. Puppy mills
are often changing the breeds they produce to meet current demand.
Almost all puppy mills breed three or more breeds at once. Puppy
mill dogs are generally purebreds and the fact that the puppies
have American Kennel Club (AKC) papers seems to be a big selling
point to many prospective buyers. AKC papers do not guarantee the
puppy to be healthy or free of defects in any way. In fact purebred
dogs have over 200 identified genetic disorders. AKC papers are
supposed to assure that the puppies are purebred, but even this
is often fabricated. Many puppy mill breeders do not follow AKC
regulations for keeping records in order. The breeder often does
not really know which of their males actually bred each female.
Once the puppies are born the puppy mill owner often registers more
than the actual number of puppies born in order to have extra AKC
"blue slips" to pass out with unregistered dogs that they
sell at a later date. The AKC seems to be very reluctant to ban
a person from registering puppies, even after repeated complaints
from other individuals. In essence, it seems, the AKC is out to
make money too.
Puppy mills are supposed to be monitored by the United Sates Department
of Agriculture (USDA), but too many kennels and too few inspectors
result in many kennels only being checked infrequently. The USDA
is responsible for overseeing commercial dog production, but many
people would agree that its unit is underfunded and understaffed
for them to be effective at doing anything to stop the puppy mill
producer, and even when they see problems they are often unwilling
to act. Even when violations are found the fines are small and kennels
are almost never shut down. If they are "closed down"
this does not generally stop the miller from continuing their breeding,
they just do not register their litters with the USDA now!
Many people turn to pet stores because they do not want a dog to
show. This is not a good reason to continue supporting the puppy
mill trade. Even reputable breeders will produce puppies that are
not destined to enter the show ring. Good breeders are just as concerned
about the placement of a pet puppy as they are for a show quality
puppy. They also sell on spay/neuter guarantees or limited registrations
to ensure that they are not contributing to the pet overpopulation
problem and are also helping to preserve the quality of their breed.
Reputable breeders will help you pick a puppy best suited to your
family and life style. They will also help you through training
problems, temperament problems, and will hold strong on their guarantee.
They are almost all willing to take back a puppy that the owner
can no longer care for. They can tell you about the background of
your dog and often the parents, or at least the mother, is available
to be seen on sight. This will give you an idea of what your puppy
will look like when it is mature. Both parents should be genetically
screened for problems relevant to the breed of the dog. Ask to see
the parents test results. The breeder will know what genetic disorders
are common in their breed of dog. Their dogs should be titled with
working or conformation titles also. Champions several generations
back in the pedigree may look impressive, but they really mean nothing
about the quality of the dog you have in front of you. An honest
breeder will point out both the positive and negative traits of
their breed. There is no breed that is perfect for everyone. How
many pet stores will give you all of this information? Well I have
never been to one!! Why? First of all almost no pet stores have
all of this information, or they prefer not to tell you. Most stores
do not care what happens once the puppy has left either.
There are many things you can do to help stop the puppy mill practice.
The number one thing is to NOT BUY THAT PUPPY IN THE WINDOW!!! It
is difficult to pass up that puppy, but as long as there is a market
for these puppies then they will continue to be produced in the
same fashion they are now. Pet stores generally rely on impulse
buys to sell their puppies. People must demonstrate self control
and rational thought and not buy these puppies. Like all businesses,
the "product" will only be produced to meet the demand.
When you buy a pet store puppy you may think you are saving that
puppy's life, but in fact, you are condoning its mother to one more
litter in "concentration camp" type conditions.
Spaying and neutering your own dogs are another crucial factor.
A spayed or neutered dog is of no use to a puppy mill and will therefor
eliminate a reason for a puppy miller to steal your dog. Also if
your dog is bred, even accidentally, each of their puppies, or their
puppy's puppies have a risk of ending up in a puppy mill breeding
program no matter how carefully you think you screened your puppy's
An even better alternative to buying a puppy is adopting a dog
from the local humane society or shelter. About 25% of the 15-20
million unwanted dogs that are euthanased each year are purebreds.
Breed rescue organizations are also spread throughout the US to
save purebred dogs. Often shelters and rescue organizations can
provide you with a loving pet and you are saving a life too. Crossbreeds
can be just as good a pet as any pure bred dog. Shelters get dogs
of all ages, sizes and personalities and it should be possible to
find one to match your lifestyle.
There are many advantages to getting a mature dog over a puppy.
You can see what your dog will look like without unexpected size,
weight, or coat type. Some shelter/rescue dogs are already house
trained saving you a lot of hard work and dirty floors. Many are
mature and well mannered in houses and have outgrown the chewing
stage. It is much easier to see what a mature dogs personality is
like than a puppy that is ever changing with hormones and growth.
Almost all shelters and rescue organizations require the dog they
place to be spayed or neutered before it is released. This itself
helps prevent to overpopulation problem. Dogs from shelter or rescue
organizations are almost always cheaper to acquire as well. Rescue
organizations are also concerned that the dog fits into your lifestyle
and will try to place a dog with a proper personality for your family.
Now that you know all of the facts about puppy mills, why would
you even consider buying a puppy from a pet store? By passing up
the next cute puppy face in the window you are helping stop this
horrible practice. There are many good places to buy a puppy, but
a pet store is almost never a good one. What else can you do to
stop the puppy mill problem? Well by becoming educated about puppy
mills you are making a good start. By spreading the message and
educating others about these horrible operations you can help also.
Please copy this article and it share it with anyone that you think
might be planning to buy a puppy in the future, or even people who
are not, as remember that almost all pet store sales are based on
impulse buys. Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself
about puppy mills.
The distribution of this article is encouraged by the author. Please
distribute this article, but credits must be maintained.
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