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Imagine walking into a pet store and having puppies give you the saddest looks with their great big teary eyes. Everybody is tempted to take these puppies home because they just appeal and hit every nerve in every way. By spending money on a puppy from a pet store, you support a really ugly industry. This industry is known as puppy mills. A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs (ASPCA).
Puppy mills are easily distinguished by their inhumane conditions and the constant breeding of unhealthy and genetic defective dogs solely for profit (Prisoners of Greed).
Puppy mills make dog’s live very tortured lives. All puppy mills should be banned because of their cruelty to these poor innocent animals. Puppy mills were established in the 1940’s after World War II. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggested breeding dogs as an alternative to wide spread crop failures in the Midwest.
The farmers liked this idea because breeding dogs was cheaper and there was less physical labor involved than in growing crops. They also did not have to worry about the weather. The farmers took their chicken coops and rabbit hutches and repurposed them for dogs and the retail pet industry.
The farmers had little knowledge of the puppy industry and often had very little money to start this venture. They did not know that puppies needed companionship and they also skipped veterinary care for the puppies.
This led to the substandard condition of puppy mills. Retail pet outlets grew so the demand for puppies increased. Major retail stores such as Sears, purchased dogs for their pet departments and pet store chains were born (Wolf). The state of Missouri is the largest puppy mill state in the country . It is estimated that the value of the puppy mill industry to this state is 40 million dollars a year.
The puppy brokers also needed a puppy supply store for the east coast, so they convinced the Pennsylvania farmers that puppies were the cash crop of the future. They gave seminars to teach the farmers how to operate their own breeding facilities. Lancaster county PA has earned the nickname of the puppy mill capital of the east (ASPCA). Puppy mills continue to thrive because they prey on consumers who are smitten by the puppies in pet stores or on fancy websites (Stop Puppy Mills). The reality of a puppy mill is that it raises dogs in cramped, crude, and filthy conditions.
Puppy mills are distinguishable by their inhumane conditions. They also breed unhealthy and genetically defective dogs for profit only (prisoners of greed). Dogs are kept in either wood or wire mesh cages or simply tethered to a tree. One facility in Arkansas had cages hanging from the ceiling of an unheated cinder-block building (PETA). Wire cages are used to minimize waste cleanup. Many of the puppies lose their feet and legs because they are caught on the wire floor and they are cut off as the dog struggles to free itself.
There is usually no heat or air conditioning in a puppy mill. The dogs will either die of heat stroke in the summer or freeze to death in the winter. Food that is fed to the dogs in the puppy mills is usually purchased from dog food companies by the truck load. The dog food contains sweepings from the floor. There is so little nutritional value that the dog’s teeth can rot at an early age (Prisoner of Greed). Dogs that are bred in puppy mills can experience a multitude of problems ranging from physical to mental due to the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of the cages.
Because the puppies are never allowed out of their cages, this can cause dogs to become mentally unstable. It is not uncommon to see dogs barking and running in circles. They have no social interaction with people. They are never given toys or treats. This also makes it difficult for the dogs to become a part of a family. Puppy mill owners fail to remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, which causes congenital and hereditary conditions. These can include diseases such as epilepsy and musculoskeletal disorders such as dysplasia, deafness and eye problems.
The dogs also arrive at the stores with infirmities and diseases such as mange, heartworm, and distemper (ASPCA). Many dogs will get wounds from being bitten by other dogs and the breeders do not even take care of these wounds so they stay open allowing bacteria to enter the skin and cause infection. Life is particularly bad for the female dogs. The mothers spend loveless lives in tiny stacked cages, from which they are never released to eat, play or even defecate. These females receive little or no veterinary care (Stop Puppy Mills). By the age of five, most female dogs can no longer reproduce at the puppy mills.
At this point, they no longer have any value to the owners and are killed by being bashed in the head with a rock or shot (Prisoner of Greed). The mom and dad of the puppies are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive. The result of all of this breeding is hundreds of thousands of puppies with behavior and or health problems (Stop Puppy Mills) In Riverside, Iowa an owner told USDA that he performed surgical procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and declawing the puppies. The owner used no anesthetic agents and he did not sterilize his tools. This owner was also not licensed to practice veterinary medicine or surgery in any state.
All of the adult dogs and puppies had open lesions and damage to ears, legs, and or torsos. If the puppies are fortunate enough to survive the conditions of the puppy mills, they then have to face the dangerous journey across the country to the various pet stores. Hundreds of thousands of puppies are taken from their mothers and sold to brokers who pack puppies into crates and then ship them cross-country to be sold in pet shops. These puppies can travel hundreds of thousands of miles in pickup trucks, tractor trailers, and or/airplanes, often without adequate food, water, ventilation, or shelter.
In Missouri, a trailer was stopped by the USDA. It had thirty three cages that contained sixty three puppies. They did not have adequate water or food. They were later arrested. (Stop Puppy Mills). Since running puppy mills is a business, the facility is designed for profit so they do not care at all about the well-being of these puppies. Some of the puppies are sold via newspaper classifieds or internet sites and are often accompanied by false claims saying “We would never sell puppies from a puppy mill.
They will also say that the puppies are home raised, or raised with kids (Stop Puppy Mills). Many of these puppies being sent to pet stores have never or rarely received the kind of loving human contact that is essential for them to become suitable companions when puppies reach the pet stores, conditions do not even improve. They are still kept in small cages with wire on the bottom. They are still without exercise, love and human contact. They will develop undesirable behaviors and may bark excessively or become destructive and unsociable (PETA).
Many consumers want to purchase purebred dogs even though they may not be educated about the breed or ready for the commitment that puppies require. Movies like 101 Dalmatians and Beethoven or commercials such as those for Taco Bell can cause a jump in popularity for certain breeds. This demand for a particular breed triggers an increase of breeding for that particular type of dog as the puppy mills try to meet the consumer’s demand. When a St. Bernard doesn’t act like “Beethoven” or the Dalmatians are high strung, rescue groups and animal shelters become flooded with these breeds.
At puppy mills, puppies are bred for quantity, not quality so genetic defects and personality disorders are passed on from generation to generation (PETA). With all of these puppies being tortured many would assume that in today’s world there should be a law passed or that the government should have stepped in and saved these poor puppies. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is administered by the US Department of Agriculture. The act has several categories of businesses that handle dogs. One is pet dealers who import, buy, sell, trade or transport pets in wholesale channels.
Another is pet breeders who breed for the wholesale trade, whether for selling animals to other breeders or selling to brokers or directly to pet stores or laboratories. The AWA however does not define puppy mill (Wolf). Under the federal AWA, commercial breeders selling directly to pet stores must be licensed by the USDA. The AWA does not regulate breeders that sell directly to the public. Since the AWA was passed in 1966 it was before the Internet boom and the lawmakers did not see that commercial breeders would have the ability to sell to consumers through the internet.
This allows a loophole for mills to operate without a license and without fear of inspection. The mills are not accountable to anyone for their breeding and care standards (ASPCA). The AWA and many states have laws that purport to regulate puppy mills, but the fact is that those laws are rarely enforced (Prisoners of Greed). In May, 2008, the ASPCA and other welfare groups successfully fought for an amendment to Congress’s Farm Bill. This bill would prohibit the importation of puppies less than six months of age for the purpose of resale.
In September 2008, a bill known as “Baby’s Bill” (in honor of Baby, a three legged rescued puppy mill survivor) was introduced in the House of Representatives. This legislation was to close the loophole that allowed commercial breeders to sell puppies online. It would also require all dogs to be let out of their cages and exercised daily. Unfortunately it did not pass The ASPCA will try again next year to get the bill passed. Certain states are now passing laws to help control the number of adult dogs a breeder may possess. Virginia and Louisiana were among the first states to pass these laws.
As the voting public becomes more vocal in its objection to the puppy mills, legislator support should increase. There are ways that you can fight puppy mills. Start by refusing to patronize the stores and websites that sell their puppies. The biggest thing a person can do is not buy a puppy from a pet store. Another thing to do is not buy a puppy from any place that does not show you records of its entire facility. Ask to meet the mother dog. Consider becoming active and joining the ASPCA to pass legislation that ensures that all animals bred are raised in healthy conditions (ASPCA).
When buying a puppy, consider adoption. By adopting instead of buying, it is a way to hurt puppy mills. Another suggestion is to find a responsible breeder and visit their premises. By visiting the home of a respectful breeder, you can check if the puppies have been provided with a loving and healthy environment (Stop Puppy Mills). Never send Western Union or money order payments. If a breeder or broker says there will be no refunds for a sick puppy, then the puppy is most likely coming from a puppy mill. When purchasing a puppy also pick it up.
Do not have the puppy shipped or meet at a random location (PETA). Puppy mills have been going on since the late 1940’s and they need to end. Poor innocent puppies die every year from malnutrition, diseases, open wounds and broken bones that do not get to heal properly. Since puppy mills are a business, all the breeders care about is the profit they make. They neglect these poor puppies by not feeding them or even giving them love and care they deserve. In 2007, a man named Bob Baker joined the ASPCA as an undercover investigator.
He raided a puppy mill in Buxton, MF, and seized more than 200 dogs. Baker released his findings to the papers. This increased the consumer’s awareness of the dangers of puppy mills. The PETA organization is a big advocate of getting information out about these mills. Many people have gone undercover with video cameras to witness and record these horrible acts. Celebrities are showing their support by making statements through PETA or doing television commercials to raise the consumer’s awareness. Puppy mills are a huge tragedy in this world today that needs to be stopped.
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