Puppy mills are nothing short of a hell for unlucky dogs and puppies. Only concerned with profit, these breeders sell puppies with disease and disorders.
What’s the difference between a puppy bought at a pet store and a puppy adopted from a local animal shelter? They may not look that different, but puppies from pet stores often times come with infections, emotional problems, personality disorders, and life-threatening illnesses.
Puppy mills are large dog-breeding factories, where quantity is put above the quality of life of the animals. The dogs are over-bred, leading to disease and early death. The puppies are separated from their mother too young and are sold often to pet stores through a middle-man.
People most often choose pet stores over animal shelters due to convenience and purebred status of their desired pup. Because breeding is not recorded at mills, and disease is rampant, lineage is usually false, meaning you’re not getting the purebred you wanted. Even if you think you’re saving a puppy mill dog by buying it from a pet store, another will just replace it, renewing the never-ending cycle of supply and demand.
How the Dogs Are Treated?
According to the ASPCA, diseases most commonly reported in puppy mill dogs are: epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, musculoskeletal disorders (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, etc.), Endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism), blood disorders (anemia, Von Willebrand disease), deafness, eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, etc.), respiratory disorders, giardia, upper respiratory infections, kennel cough, pneumonia, mange, fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, heartworm and chronic diarrhea.
Horrific conditions at mills contribute to the disorders and diseases. Dogs are kept indoors in cages and are never let out for fresh air or exercise. They go without adequate veterinary care and usually don’t get enough food and water. The animals are not properly socialized, which should be practiced with all puppies.
Breeder females are bred at every opportunity, according to the ASPCA, and are not allowed recovery time in between litters. Often times, the female is killed when her body is so mangled that she can no longer reproduce.
How Is This Allowed?
The government only regulates breeders that sell to pet stores, not ones that sell directly to the public (such as on the Internet), according to the Humane Society, which also reports that even the mills that are inspected regularly get away with heinous acts of improper care.
History of Puppy Mills
According to the ASPCA, puppy mills started popping up during World War II, and were marketed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a “fool-proof cash-crop.”
While Missouri is the state with the most puppy mills, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania holds the dishonor of having the most mills in any one county. In the 1970s, mill brokers convinced Amish farmers that puppy mills were the “crop of the future.”
On April 15, 2011, Missouri lawmakers reconsidered a previous 2010 public vote to crack down on puppy mills. The Associated Press reported that the legislatures were swayed by breeders who feared they would be shut down.
What You Can Do?
Do not buy from pet stores, no matter how reputable the chain. Animal shelters are the only real way to know whether your pet came from a puppy mill. Most shelters keep health and lineage records of the animals if they are able (if the animal was surrendered, not if it was a stray picked up). Animals in shelters are there to be the companion of a lucky human, not for profit. Even though some mills are raided and the animals placed in shelters, they are given the proper care and socialization that will give them a second chance at making great pets. A lot of shelters post to PetFinder, a nonprofit site that makes finding the perfect furry friend easy.
Don’t buy from the internet. According to the ASPCA, buying a dog over the internet is as risky as buying directly from a pet store.
Spread the word! Tell others about puppy mills. Sharing this information with friends and family will help spread the knowledge of how to really save an animal’s life.
Take a more active role by donating to the ASPCA or the Humane Society or your local shelter. Volunteer at a shelter, or be a foster parent to shelter animals.