The Harsh Reality Behind Corporate Pet Store Practices And Some “Backyard Breeders”
Many people know the term “Puppy Mill,” but few people truly understand what a puppy mill is or what happens there. The ASPCA defines a puppy mill as “a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.” Essentially these dog breeding facilities are built and operated for the sake of profit and usually disregard the well being and health of the dogs themselves. This article will help shed some light on the topic of puppy mills and their inhumane practices against all dogkind. WARNING! This next paragraph contains graphic descriptions of the inhumane living conditions of puppy mills and is not for the faint of heart.
The Harsh Truth
Imagine being born in a cage so small and overcrowded with other animals that all you can do is sit or sleep. A cage that isn’t regularly cleaned, so you’re forced to sit and sleep in your own urine and feces. Now picture that this disgusting overcrowded cage is outside and exposed to extreme weather conditions such as overbearing heatwaves or below freezing temperatures. You’re constantly malnourished due to a lack of food and water. You have been ripped away from your mother only a few short weeks after birth. You might have even watched your fellow littermates become sick with no medicine or doctor ever coming to help. Imagine watching your fellow cage-mates drop dead from these horrific living conditions as their bodies linger and decay for days on end only a few feet from you where you lay in your cage. This nightmarish portrayal is what it’s like for dogs and puppies living in puppy mills. This is their reality. To learn more about the horrors of puppy mills, check out the Human Society website.
The biggest problem with puppy mills is the animal cruelty. Most puppy mills have a very low quality of care for both the breeding dogs and their offspring. The kinds of living conditions mentioned above are not only inhumane, but can often be deadly. To make matters worse, the puppies are usually separated from their mother shortly after birth so they can be put up for sale. This way, the mother can continue breeding. These puppies are shipped off to pet stores or private sellers at a very young age and therefore don’t get the opportunity to learn and develop important social and behavioral skills that are usually taught by the mother. The breeding mothers often suffer an even worse fate as they are given very little recovery time between births. Also, they must endure both the physical and emotional trauma of giving birth to a litter and then having them taken away after only a few weeks, just to repeat the process again. This process continues over and over until the mother can no longer bear puppies and is then outright killed as she is no longer profitable to the puppy mill owners/operators. These living conditions are not only inhumane, but can be detrimental to the overall well being of a newborn puppy. Being subjected to these horrific conditions and circumstances can cause permanent damage to a puppy on a physical, mental, and behavioral level which often stays with them throughout adulthood. Puppy mills are a very traumatic place for dogs. The consequences of being subjected to this experience can often be irreversible.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States alone. Out of these 10,000, only about 2,000 are licensed by the USDA. It’s also estimated that these puppy mills produce a whopping 2.15 million puppies a year in the U.S. So where do all these puppies end up? There are typically two places.
- Pet Stores: We’ve all seen the cute puppies in the windows of pet stores. Although they are irresistibly adorable, there’s a good chance they came from a puppy mill. Most pet stores, both corporate and locally owned, operate on a “supply and demand” basis. Rather than waiting on a trained and licensed dog breeder, many pet stores will resort to puppy mills as a consistent and inexpensive source for their “product” a.k.a. puppies. Many pet stores claim and advertise that they do not work or affiliate with puppy mills, however the majority of these pet stores find a loophole by working with a broker or “middle man” who does work directly with puppy mills. The truth is that most consumers don’t see where the cute puppy in the pet store window actually comes from. They are usually quick to ignore or not realize that the adorable puppy they’re purchasing is from a puppy mill.
- Dog Breeders: A dog breeder is in fact a good place to get a puppy if you’re looking for a specific breed of dog. However, there are so many illegitimate dog breeders out there that it can be difficult to differentiate the good ones from the fake ones. With the convenience of online shopping it’s even easier for puppy mills to sell puppies to unsuspecting buyers by posing as dog breeders. From Craigslist to Ebay there are fake dog breeders all over the internet just waiting to sell abused and mistreated puppies to people who typically don’t know any better. If you decide to purchase a puppy through a dog breeder, be extra cautious in regards to the legitimacy of that breeder.
What You Can Do
Although not all pet stores use puppy mills, many of them do. It can be very difficult to discern who does and who doesn’t get their puppies from puppy mills. The best way to avoid supporting puppy mills is to adopt from local animal shelters like the ASPCA. There are thousands of dogs and puppies at animal shelters across the country that desperately need a good home and family. That’s where you come in. You may not find the exact breed, age, or gender of dog you wanted, but I guarantee you will find a loving, caring, and beautiful dog or puppy that will make a terrific new addition to your family. If your interested in adopting a dog, check out our previous article entitled Adopt A Dog Month.
Make A Difference
Even today many people continue to ignore or refuse to believe the cruelties that occur at puppy mills. Some people even try to justify buying a puppy that came from a puppy mill by claiming they “saved” that puppy from those horrible and inhumane living conditions. But the sad truth is that those people are only supporting the business. Puppy mills are horrible, inhumane places and buying a puppy from one will only continue to keep these terrible operations going. You may have “saved” that one puppy, but what about the other litters in months/years to come. Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution! Avoid pet stores and “backyard breeders” (I’m sure you have a general idea of who we are talking about here). Adopt from animal shelters or at the very least do your research to find a reputable breeder if you must have a particular breed. With awareness comes change. I hope one day we can all do our part to put an end to puppy mills once and for all!