What is a puppy mill?
According to the ASPCA there are approximately 10,000 puppy mills just in the United States. The ASPCA website has a very succinct and heart breaking description of exactly what a puppy mill is:
“A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters. Puppy mill puppies, often as young as eight weeks of age, are sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads and at swap meets and flea markets.
In a puppy mill, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked in columns. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.”
Backyard breeders are almost as bad as puppy mills in that they share many of the same characteristics:
- Motivated by profit with little care for the animals’ welfare.
- Horrific conditions for the poor animals.
- Disposal or abandonment of animals once they are too old or no longer able to reproduce.
- Disposal or abandonment of puppies they are unable to sell.
- Contribution to the overall animal overpopulation issue with consequent high animal shelter intake rates and high euthanasia rates.
The Paws website lists these “red flags” when trying to determine if someone is a backyard breeder:
- The seller has many types of purebreds or “designer” hybrid breeds being sold at less than six weeks old.
- Breeders who are reluctant to show potential customers the entire premises on which animals are being bred and kept.
- Breeders who don’t ask a lot of questions of potential buyers.
- No guarantees-responsible breeders make a commitment to take back the pet at any time during the animal’s life, no matter the reason.
The Fact is That There is NO Reason to Buy a Companion Animal From These Places
Given the following well documented facts, there is NO reason for anyone to buy a companion animal from a puppy mill, backyard breeder or pet store:
- One of the most common reasons people give for buying from a backyard breeder or pet store is that they either want a specific breed of dog, cat or bird or they want a puppy or kitten. News Flash: Rescues and shelters routinely have pure breed animals AND puppies and kittens galore! All you have to do is a bit of research. Many shelters and rescues will allow you to register to be notified when a particular breed of animal comes in. There are breed-specific rescue organizations all over the United States so if you really want a particular type of dog or cat or rabbit or bird or any kind of animal, you may contact the appropriate rescue group. You will not only save a life but you will also save yourself a pile of money. Doing something good AND saving money at the same time? Winner!!
- Another reason given for avoiding adoption and buying instead is the misconception that rescued animals have “issues” and animals from breeders or pet stores come with certain guarantees. Another news flash: Most of the animals who end up in shelters are there because their humans had issues and NOT because there is anything wrong with the animal. One of the most common reasons dogs end up in shelters is because the stupid humans couldn’t figure out how to house train the dog or didn’t realize they’d have to actually spend time with the companion animals!
- We already have a wealth of information regarding the abuses that occur at many dog breeding operations in particular, commonly called “puppy mills” so don’t support these business by buying animals from them. The law of supply and demand dictates that if we stop buying puppy mill dogs, the puppy mills will eventually go out of business. In fact many states have outlawed puppy mill operations and other states are beginning to follow suit. In addition, there is a movement among municipal governments to outlaw pet stores. Check out the extensive information at the Puppy Mill Project and the Animal Defense Legal Fund for a comprehensive list of US and Canadian laws animal protection laws .
- We also know that there far more adoptable animals, including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds and others, than there are suitable forever homes. The ASPCA reports that almost 34% of dogs but only 3% of cats are obtained as pets from breeders. In addition, approximately 6.5 million companion animals end up in US shelters EACH YEAR and approximately 1.5 million of them are euthanized EACH YEAR.
- Obviously, animal shelters, rescue organizations and private rescuers who pull abandoned animals off the street need our help to adopt as many animals as possible to reduce the inexcusably high euthanasia rates at many animal shelters.
Lots of Opportunities to Adopt
When you decide to add a companion animal to your family, go visit your local public shelter, contact local rescue groups and attend the many adoption events which occur around the county each year. I may just be projecting here but of the hundreds of animals I’ve rescued and placed in forever homes over the last 20+ years, it seems that each one understands they’ve been saved and they are happy and grateful to be with their new family. So, get out there, do some research to find your new animal companion and give the precious creature a forever home in your heart and in fact.
USDA Animal Abuse Information Black-Out
On a related note, as we reported earlier this year, in February, the USDA suddenly yanked from its website all information about the treatment of animals at breeding operations, zoos, research laboratories and other places where animal abuse commonly occurs. In response to strenuous objections from animal welfare organization, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services issued a statement explaining the suppression of the information by citing alleged court rulings and privacy laws and saying that the previously available records would now be available only via Freedom of Information Act requests which can take months to years for approval.
In spite of efforts by activists to organize protests of the USDA action and demand that it return the purged information to the website, the federal government has not changed its stance. If you would like to get involved, check out Change.org’s petition to reverse the USDA’s decision.
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