What Is A Puppy Mill?
A puppy mill, in the most concise sense of the term, is a breeder who mass-produces puppies in environments where the parents are locked in small wire cages. They freeze in the winter and swelter in the summer. Instead of walking on grass, they spend a lifetime walking on painful wire in cramped cages. Instead of collars or bandanas, they wear rusted livestock clips in their ears or chains with USDA tags embedded in their necks. Often, these dogs are “de-barked” buy shoving a steel pipe down their throat to rupture their vocal cords, which often cracks their back teeth and breaks their jaw, all performed in unsterile conditions and without anesthesia. Other dogs undergo more than a dozen caesarian sections, all performed by the commercial dog breeders, without anesthesia.
The factory farming of man’s best friend is an ugly business. Each step of the process is harsh, inhumane and unspeakably cruel. From the time a female dog comes into her first heat cycle at six or seven months of age, she is bred unmercifully. Producing two litters a year for eight years, she will spend her entire life isolated from the outside world. Kept along with hundreds of other breeding dogs in rows of outside hutches or hidden away in dark barns. Deprived of the most basic of veterinary care, she can suffer from untreated bite wounds, pneumonia, heat stroke, ear infections, blindness, malnutrition, splayed and swollen feet, periodontal disease and mange. Undeserving of a name and referred to only as a number, after eight years of service a breeding female is often starved to death or led into a dark cornfield and shot once she can no longer produce puppies for market.
The numbers are staggering when it comes to sheer numbers of mills in each and every state. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the number of registered puppy mills exceeds 10,000 nationwide and it’s estimated that Missouri has 30 percent of all the puppy mills in the country with 200,000 breeding animals producing 1 million puppies a year. Even more disheartening, the HSUS estimates that the number of adoptable dogs euthanized in shelters at 2 million a year.
The inhumanity toward our most beloved pets, the family dog, must end. And it will end when we stop buying dogs and start adopting them at our local shelters. If you purchase a puppy, rather than adopt, you are part of the problem instead of part of the solution, no matter how good your intentions are.
How Can You Help?
- Don’t buy from a pet store! 98% of all puppies in pet stores are from mills, not local breeders. REGARDLESS of what the pet shop employee tells you.
- Make adoption your first option. Check your local shelters for a potential pet. There are many dogs waiting in shelters for good homes – and 25% of them are purebred! Or, look for a dog with a breed rescue group. Scan the internet for breed-specific rescue organizations.
- Know how to recognize a responsible breeder. If you absolutely must buy from a breeder, make sure you are buying from a responsible, humane breeder, who cares about his or her dogs. Spotting a humane breeder from a puppy miller is usually rather simple, and you can read more about that HERE.
- Internet buyers beware! If you buy a puppy based on a picture and a phone call, you have no way to see the puppy’s home or meet her parents. Also, those who sell animals on the internet are not held to the Animal Welfare Act regulations – and are not inspected by the USDA.
- Share your puppy mill story with the us! If you have – or think you have – purchased a puppy-mill puppy, share your story. Every bit of evidence can help to get laws passed banning puppy mills.
- Speak out. Write to your local and state legislators. Encourage him or her to support laws that protect animals.
- Tell your friends. If your friend is planning to buy a puppy mill puppy, spread the word and inform them of the cruelty of these facilities. Tell them about the wonderful dogs in animal shelters.
- Think globally. Use the internet (Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etc.) to speak out about puppy mills!
- Act locally. When people are looking to buy or adopt a pet, they will often ask the advice of their veterinarian, groomer or pet supply store. Ask the owners if you can leave flyers with them. You can download flyers to print .