I know that folks generally know what a puppy mill is, but they truly are heartbreaking and we need to make sure that everyone understands how deplorable the conditions and operations are.
No reputable breeder sells their dogs to a pet store. If you purchase a puppy from a cage in the mall, it is from a puppy mill and by purchasing it, you are supporting them doing this:
These breeding dogs are being kept in pools in a breeders bathroom. Twenty four hours a day 7 days a week.
This is Lizzy Tish. She was so malnourished that she couldn't support one puppy, she was dumped and we rescued her.
If you were at our Gala this past weekend, you may have seen Omega on our before and after board. She was unrecognizable....thankfully...in her after picture.
It’s hard, if not impossible for some people to walk in to a shelter and pick out a dog to take home and adopt. But things are changing and it’s time to make everyone aware of pet overpopulation (a discussion for another day) and the horrific reality of commercial breeding operations which are allowed to continue. If you are buying from a pet store, you are helping keep these atrocities in business. Someone once told me that they buy from a pet store because they feel sorry for the dog and they don’t know what will happen to it if they don’t take it home. If you don’t buy this dog, who is likely sick with something like distemper, parvovirus or worse, then the mill will hopefully go out of business! Tell everyone you know, everyone you see, just keep it quiet if you are in the actual store because if the employees notice you, they can have you escorted from the premises. Not that I would know from experience or anything.
Granted, finding dogs at pet stores is getting more difficult as the public is becoming educated about the sad shelter situation in our country. Close to 4 million dogs are surrendered or picked up and taken in to shelters and rescues every year. Sixty percent of those dogs face euthanasia. Rescues and Shelters scramble to find homes and save as many as they can, but they are busting at the seams. Backyard breeders have turned to avenues like Craigslist or the local newspaper, but good Samaritan’s may also take this route to prevent a dog from being euthanized. Here’s the problem. Last year a man was charged with 29 counts of animal cruelty because of the massive number of dead animals found on his property. He had obtained at least 29 animals by responding to “free to a good home” ads on Craigslist. Another woman is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of animals that she obtained from “free” ads all while claiming to be an animal shelter. She took them home, shot them and dumped their bodies in a lake behind her house. Dog fighting circles use free Craigslist dogs as “bait dogs” for training their own dogs to fight, or they train those dogs to be fighters as well. Sometimes if the dog is purebred and not neutered, he or she will be picked up by a backyard breeder and destined to spend the rest of his or her life caged, malnourished and unloved breeding machine. Just like pet store puppies, these dogs typically have severe behavior problems that require weeks, months or years of dedicated training. Believe that these people will tell you whatever you want to hear to make you think that they are responsible good pet owner. They will make up stories, bring children and even elaborate about previous pets.
Commercial breeders (puppy mills) are also the majority suppliers for so called “designer dogs”. Puppy mills are quick to capitalize on canine fads and these new crosses between breeds are a lucrative one. Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever/Poodle cross) and Puggles (Pug and Beagle cross) started about 10-15 years ago and now you can find Goldendoodles, Jugs (Jack Russell/Pug), Labbes (also called mini-labs because they are crossed with Beagles), Chorkies (Chihuahua/Yorkshire Terrier) and on and on. A dog that doesn’t shed? Only if it’s hairless. They are typically overpriced and inconsistent in both looks and health. The “breeder” being able to accurately predict, adult size, body type, color, coat type or temperament is right up there with the chances I can find a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people-eater. Many people think that by crossing two established breeds together, you remove the health issues that are common to that breed, however after seeing these dogs in veterinary offices over the last decade, it is clear that they are still prone to all the health problems of their parent breeds. There are no guidelines, rules, testing or certification to prevent the inheritance of genetic disorders, good temperament or general overall health.
Most puppy mills churn out more than one kind of breed, so mixing them whether on purpose or accidentally is simple. These “breeders” use the internet and magazines to beef up their “store front” deceiving and misleading people looking for a healthy, happy pet. You have no way of knowing unless you go to their kennels and see the puppies, the parents, and the living conditions in person. Missouri, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma are notorious for puppy mills. Tell your friends, family and anyone who will listen. To find out more about how you can help and get more information, go to the Humane Society of the United States at www.hsus.org.
Dogs are a serious responsibility and the decision to get one should not be an impulse buy. If you haven’t given serious thought to how a dog will fit in to your life, wait. Do your research and read, listen and ask questions. Know what could go wrong and what to expect up front. Veterinarians, friends, family, books, rescue and shelter groups and reliable internet sites like the Humane Society, SPCA, etc. are all great resources and with all that at your disposal, you too can be a good responsible pet owner!