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In Uncaring Hands - Puppy Mills

By Mary Anne Miller

Commercial dog breeding facilities is a fancy word for a puppy mill. Part of a commercial dog breeding industry that is highly profitable to the owner, puppy mills are places of great suffering, and inferior care. Prolific in the United States, specifically in the Midwest; it is estimated that over 5,000 puppies get shipped from these facilities every week.

The adult dogs are forced to live in cages, crammed together never being let out except for breeding purposes. Often more than one dog is forced to live together in these rabbit hutch-style cages, living amongst bodily waste, with no human or veterinary intervention. It is a miserable existence, one that does not even qualify to be called a life.

The larger, more profitable facilities are hidden on large acres of land far away from the public eye. The transport of puppies is done under the cover of darkness, in semi trucks/trailers arriving to truck these puppies to pet shops and pet brokers across the United States.

Before these pups can be transported, they need to be silenced. A trailer full of noisy puppies would draw attention to the load. Liquid sedative is poured down the throat of these puppies until they are unconscious. They are stacked in the trailer, laid out like cords of firewood, one on top of the other. The cargo is placed behind their bodies in the trailer effectively hiding the crime.

Upon arriving, many puppies are dead, either from to much sedative, or being crushed to death by being in the bottom of the pile. These puppies are tossed into the garbage written down as “acceptable losses.”  The survivors are either sold to pet stores, or pet brokers. Ads will show up on the Internet and local papers advertising purebred puppies for sale.

For the smaller puppy mills, the transport conditions are just as severe. The pups are often crammed into the backs of pickup trucks for transport, having to endure unbearable heat in the summer, and in the winter survive the bitter cold.

These are puppies from females that have been over-bred, (bred at first heat, then every six months after) receiving minimal veterinary care, low-quality food, lying in their waste for weeks/months on end. These puppies are born in misery on a breeding ground ripe for diseases and congenital defects. When the puppies wind up in pet stores, many pet store owners will vaccinate these puppies every week. So they could present them to the public as an epitome of health.

The worst offending states are; Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

In 1990 the frustrated Humane Society of the United States called for a boycott of puppy buying from these key states. The campaign garnered national attention

The HSUS has been gravely concerned with puppy mills. Under their further efforts, in August 2001, seventeen states enacted a law known as the “Lemon Law;” If a sick puppy is purchased; this law allows the new owner of the puppy to receive reimbursement for veterinary bills from the establishment where the puppy was purchased from.

According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council it is estimated that 3,700 of the nation’s 11,500 pet stores are involved in this activity. The shops sell 300,000 to 400,000 puppies a year! 

The problem has been growing to the extent that there are now non-profit organizations dedicated to puppy mill rescue. Staffed by caring individuals, they have at the ready, numerous foster families waiting to take any puppies found living in these conditions of squalor. Many of these families know full well that puppy mill rescue must come sooner than later, as precious lives hang in the balance. Numerous puppies and dogs rescued from raids do not make it. But while they are living in foster care, they will know love and receive veterinary intervention for the first time in their lives.

So how do you know that the puppy you are purchasing comes from a caring breeder and not a puppy mill?

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau. See if the pet shop has complaints on their record.
  • Stop purchasing from pet stores and private individuals if these people can not adequately provide the right papers: A Breed Registry Paper, not a certificate of health.
  • If the owner says the puppies are from out-of-state, ask to see the interstate health certificate.
  • Write letters about the puppy mills, to your congressman, local authorities, editors of your local newspaper, and the USDA whose job it is to monitor these places and inspect them, making sure they are up to standard quality care.

There are warning signs: If a private seller will not let you see all the dogs, or let you into the house. If you hear dogs in distress, or are conscious of noxious odors coming from the house.

A reputable breeder will let you interact with the mother and the father as well as the puppies. If you suspect anything, please report the location to the local animal control. You can also contact the dog clubs in the area, some of the members will know if puppy mills are operating.

Until the public stops demanding purebred puppies from pet stores, this puppy mill industry will continue to thrive. In the meantime, the cost is great for the puppies and adult dogs, hapless victims forced to live in this harsh, uncaring environment. Before you purchase a purebred puppy, make sure the puppy comes from a reputable breeder and not a puppy mill.

Visit http://www.hsus.org/ace/11797  to obtain more information and find out how you can help.


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