When consumers are looking for a puppy, it’s typically because they want to have sole influence to shape the puppy, or because they don’t want an older dog who comes to them with proverbial ‘baggage’.
Unfortunately, many consumers purchase their puppies from pet stores and on-line sources and have no idea that the puppy they are getting is a puppy mill puppy which may already be damaged.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 99% of all puppies sold in pet stores and on-line come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are the scourges of the pet industry and their existence has been long hidden from the public. While pet rescue organizations have been battling these operations for years, Oprah Winfrey was the person largely responsible for bringing puppy mills and the risks to puppy mill puppies to the public eye.
Puppy mills are facilities where dogs are factory farmed; one mill can produce thousands of puppies annually. Puppy mill puppies traditionally do not receive healthcare, never leave their cages, and receive virtually no human contact.
Why should I care?
1. It’s not humane.
Puppy mill breeding dogs are sentenced to life in a cage without human contact, exercise or health care. They do not leave their cages…even to go to the bathroom. They are bred continuously, and when they can no longer reproduce they are almost always euthanized.
The puppies these breeder dogs product are fortunate enough to escape as they are the commodities, but life as they know it isn’t pleasant, nor is it conducive for good health and temperament. The only thing puppy mill puppies know about life is contained within the confines of their cage and this can create fear, and phobic behaviors. The overcrowded, dirty conditions and lack of medical care further assists in the spread of disease. When the puppies are between 5-8 weeks old, they are sold to pet shops and puppy brokers who in turn, sell them on the Internet and in newspapers.
2. Emotionally and physically damaged puppies
Between 3-5 weeks of age, (the primary socialization period for puppies), emotional tendencies develop in pups. This is when they learn about bite inhibition, emotional temperaments are set, fear of strangers emerges, and they start to respond to sights and sounds. While socialization can be effective through 12 weeks of age, many behaviors and tendencies are already set by week 5. When puppies are not properly socialized, they typically become adult dogs who are emotionally frigid and fearful, or the opposite- grossly over reactive with high anxiety. In both cases, fearful aggression is likely to emerge as the dog matures. This probably isn’t what you had in mind for your new family member.
3. Puppy mill puppies tend to be sick
Puppy mill puppies are prone to be sick with illnesses that may present within days and others which may not present for a year or more. As long as a breeding dog can be physically breed, they are bred, despite illness, temperament or selective breeding techniques. Sick breeding parents produce sick puppies and the filthy and overcrowded conditions that these dogs live in, creates a whole host of additional illnesses that can be transferred from dog to dog.
Consumers have to be educated about what they are buying from pet shops and on-line sources. Many online sources claim to be breeders when they are really puppy mills or puppy mill brokers in disguise. Learn how to differentiate between a puppy mill and a professional breeder.
Puppy mills are a multi-million dollar industry because they hide their business in places where consumers cannot see them and they prey on consumer’s ignorance of their breeding tactics. Based upon the Humane Society’s 99% figure, we implore you to never purchase a pet from a pet store or from an online source. It’s up to you, the consumer, to uncover the truth about the puppy you might be buying. Choose wisely, the quality of your life and the puppy’s life depends on it.
What can I do?
Many professionals in the pet industry have made “putting puppy mills out of business” number one on their task list. The most effective solution however is to stop buying their products.
Healthy and properly socialized puppies can be found through a professional dog breeder and through your local animal shelter and breed rescue groups.
If you’d like more information on puppy mills and what you can do to stop them, here are campaigns and associations to consider:
- Best Friends, Pets Are Not Products Campaign
- American Humane Association, Help us Shut Down Puppy mills
- The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Fight Animal Cruelty/puppy mills
- Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Stop Puppy Mills Campaign
- The Humane Society of the United States as seen on the Oprah, Puppy Mill Episode (Warning! Video content is not appropriate for children.)
© Paws in Training, Inc. 2009
FOR INFORMATION ONLY