Puppy Mills. We’ve all heard the term. We’ve watched in horror as news reporters show different rescue groups pulling matted and diseased dogs from small wire cages, where they have spent the majority of their lives. These dogs have never known the gentle, loving touch of a human. All they know is loneliness and suffering at the hands of the people who see them only as a way to make money by forcing them to breed over and over again.
Puppy mills usually house dogs in very small and unsanitary conditions. The dogs do not receive adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. These dogs do not receive treats, toys or exercise. The cages they live in have wire bottoms to minimize the amount of clean-up the puppy mill owner must do. Because of this, the dogs’ paws are often bleeding and severely injured. Often, these cages are stacked one on top of the other with the urine and feces of the dogs above going into the cages of the dogs in the lower cages.
More often than not, when a breeder dog reaches the age of 4 or 5, it is considered not to be useful anymore and is killed. Some of the luckier ones are taken by rescues groups. However, sometimes the lack of socialization makes them aggressive and unadoptable.
Due to the horrific conditions in which these dogs are kept, puppies from these facilities are often in poor health, and because of so much inbreeding of the dogs, a lot of the medical problems are hereditary and will show up in later years, such as hip dysplasia. They are also prone to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Puppy mill puppies travel far to the pet stores that will sell them. Cramped quarters on these long journeys cause stress and in some cases, the puppies arrive at their destination dead.
In recent years, state legislatures have passed new laws aimed at eliminating the worst abuses at puppy mills. New laws include limits on the number of breeding females, requirements that facilities be licensed and inspected, and requirements that dogs be given proper veterinary care. Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia passed puppy mill laws in 2008, and 10 states passed laws in 2009 to crack down on abusive puppy mills.
Puppy mills have been around for decades. They continue to thrive because they prey on unwitting people who are smitten by adorable little faces of the puppies in pet store windows and on legitimate-seeming websites.
There are too many homeless dogs and puppies in the United States. Puppy mills only contribute to that figure. Instead of buying your next puppy or dog from a pet store or from an online breeder, consider visiting your local animal shelter and adopting your next furchild. Maybe if the demand for pet store puppies disappears, puppy mills will soon be a thing of the past.
This post is dedicated to Crystal, a former Puppy Mill Breeder Dog who went to the Rainbow Bridge on February 16, 2012…….much too soon. Thank you to Bonnie and Ray for giving her the love and care she so deserved in the last years of her life.