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Puppy Mills

on April 9, 2013

Puppy Mills

After the First World War in the late 1940s, people had a lot more disposable income. At the same time farmers in the Midwest were seeking alternative crops. People had lot of extra money, and a growing supply. The result was the development of the commercial puppy business.

People began breeding dogs for all sorts of reasons. Some do it as an “agricultural commodity” to solely make money. Unfortunately, many puppy farmers had very little knowledge of animal care, and started out with very little money and poor housing conditions. These “breeders” sell puppies to brokers, who sell them to pet stores.  They had little care for the health or conditions of the dogs, or about the housing and care they provide. They housed the dogs in the rabbit cages and chicken coops that they already had, gave the dogs very little socialization because they didn’t know it was needed, and they often couldn’t even afford to pay the vet costs. The problem is, to make a profit, commercial breeders must cut corners. Dogs are kept in cages all the time, with the minimum legal space allowed (six inches larger than the dog on all sides), females are bred as often as possible, and when they are no longer able to “produce,” they are discarded. It is no life for man’s best friend.

Many people do not realize that almost any pet sold at a pet store is from a puppy mill. Many states have banned the sale of domestic animals (cats and dogs) at pet stores, Michigan being one of them. States like California and Illinois continue to sell puppy mill puppies.

It may come as a surprise to you that of the biggest puppy mills in the United States, are in a sense “in cahoots” with the USDA and the AKC. Though Cruel and inhumane, puppy mills are legal and often licensed puppy mills have been regulated by the federal government since the 1960’s. Breeders who sell puppies to pet stores must hold a USDA dealer license, and many states also require breeders to obtain a license to have a dog breeding kennel. However, the standards they must adhere to are little more than requiring food, water and shelter. It is perfectly legal for licensed breeders to own several hundred, even over one thousand dogs, keep all dogs in cages for years at a time, and to breed dogs as often as possible, and to churn out as many puppies as possible.

As for the American Kennel Club, the AKC’s main source of income is the money they get from having a litter ‘registered’. A good breeder will register maybe 2 or 3 litters a year. A puppy mill will register 200 to 300 litters a year. So puppy mills give the AKC a lot of money. Last year the AKC had a ‘deal’ where if you register 10 litters the 11th litter is free. Who breeds at a volume high enough where a deal like that helps? Puppy mills. The standards set forth by the government are not meant to ensure a good life for dogs; they are meant to impose the only bare minimum of care requirements.

Puppy mills sell several million puppies every year. Another way to say this is that millions of people are buying dogs from puppy mills each year, and none of them had any idea. Puppy mill owners count on people falling in love with their puppies, either in the pet store or through adorable photos on the Internet. As a good rule of thumb, if you cannot meet the parents of the dog, assume it came from a puppy mill. IF the pet store is selling dogs from reputable breeders (unlikely but possible) they’d at least have contact info for the breeder, and you could go check out the place, see the conditions, and meet the parents. Many people get their dogs from classified ads in the newspaper. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, and if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than where the place where the dogs and puppies are raised. Puppy mill breeders also have great-looking websites all over the Internet to sell puppies directly to the public. Beware of any site that sells dogs, especially if they offer to ship puppies to you. No matter how convincing the site is, the reality could be tens or hundreds of dogs warehoused for breeding. They will even say they are not puppy mills right on the site, but you can’t be sure unless you see for yourself. Never, ever buy a puppy online.

The puppy mill epidemic in our country is ever growing and the only way these helpless animals can be saved is if a change is made, and fast. Adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group; never buy from a pet store, remember that 25% of shelter animals are purebreds. Write your elected officials to outlaw puppy mills. Urge them to demand that the USDA enforce the Animal Welfare Act, and please; educate others about the cruelties of puppy mills and the importance of adopting from shelters. 


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