Where Does Your Puppy Come From?

Puppy Mills. A lot of people don’t know that they exist, or what they are. Most who do think they exist somewhere else, not in THEIR country. But to stop them, people need to know about them. Some of this will make unpleasant reading, and I apologise for the picture. This is a genuine picture from a Pekinese female rescued from a puppy mill. It needs to be seen, and this needs to be known. (Ed. we have not published the photo as this was an old post from our blog)

Puppy mills breed dogs. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, it’s not. The act of breeding anyway. As a supporter of rescue shelters and stray animals, I encourage adopting a homeless dog or cat instead of buying a bred one, but if you wanted to spend thousands to get the specific breed of your choice, that is your prerogative, and I take no issue with that. I take issue with the conditions of the parent dogs. You see, any breeder worth their own salt would not sell to a pet shop, as they take ultimate care of their animals, and love every one, so they are in perfect condition and free from any behavioural, mental and health problems. They look after the parent animals, who are usually fond pets, and pamper them with love and care; they see the vet when they are sick, and even when they only might be; they have the best food and grooming; they are regularly exercised; their lives are as comfortable as they can possibly be. They have their purebred puppies, and they nurse them until they are of age, and then the puppies are sold. The breeder cares about where they go, and what home they go to, and if they deem you unsuited, they will not sell you the dog. Full stop. Puppy mills are not breeders. They are captors.

A puppy mill has dozens, if not hundreds, of ‘parent’ dogs. More profit that way, you see. Actually you don’t. Nobody ‘sees’ because they are hidden. Why are they hidden? Because they are disgusting. The parent dogs don’t need to be pretty, or happy, or healthy, or loved. They don’t need to be free of fleas, or worms, or washed in any way. They don’t even need to be properly fed or hydrated, or medicated. They don’t need to be able to walk. It doesn’t matter if they are sick. Because nobody sees them. As long as they are producing cute – read: sellable – puppies, they can be sick and miserable. And they ARE. Because it is a profit making industry, and the wellbeing of these animals matter not a whit to their captors. They are forced to breed and breed and breed, sometimes with their own offspring if they don’t have another handy. So the babies, while cute and ‘sellable’, are not necessarily of a dependable temperament. And not just the inbred ones either: often they are taken away from their mama far too early, because they have an order, or because mama is getting sick again and the babies catching it would make them unsellable. Or one of the parent dogs are mentally unsound, or have a genetic disorder. They don’t get exercise or love or decent food or veterinary services. They live a miserable life. For years, all because they make pretty puppies for you to buy at extravagant prices. This is what you are paying for. This is the business that you are funding.

And it’s happening everywhere. UK, US, Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand. Places that have excellent animal welfare awareness, and people care about the conditions of animals. It’s happening, and it’s profitable, all because people DON’T KNOW. I admit that I am biased. I am an animal rescue and volunteer worker, so I know how many homeless babies are waiting and dying waiting for homes, so I don’t like anyone buying animals when they could adopt one. But the BUY vs ADOPT debate is for another time. Right now we have a disgusting industry of torture, and we are not only letting it happen, we are the reason it is happening! They are doing these horrible things so that we have a range of absolutely heart-meltingly gorgeous puppies imploring us to buy them from the pet shop window.

If you think this is an exaggeration, go into a pet shop and ask for the name and contact details of the breeder of one of the animals, so you could meet the parent dogs. It’s a responsible thing to do, just to make sure the parent is of sound body and mind, so you know the puppy you are about to spend months of paychecks on will be OK in five years. See what they say. ‘No’ is generally the reply: you don’t get the certificate unless you fork the money out for the dog. Even if you just want to visit the breeder to see the state of mama: they don’t want you to see the conditions.

Please, dear reader, do not buy from pet shops. You are funding puppy mills. Tell your friends. If you are determined to buy a specific breed of dog, please find a private breeder that you trust: meet them, meet their parent animals, meet the puppies. See their environment, watch how they interact with each other, with the breeder, and with you. Ask how long the parent dog has been breeding, and what they will do when she can’t anymore. Please make sure that for the privilege of you owning that dog you are not committing another to a life of misery.

The following article is contributed by Samantha Walton with the good intention of educating the public as well as pet owners. Many thanks Samantha for your kind thoughts! 

Monday, July 16, 2012