Puppy Mills, Part One!

A guest post from Monika McDonald

If there’s one thing that raises the blood pressure of an animal lover, especially a dog lover, it’s a puppy mill.

I am very grateful for Monika to have sent me this piece, and for it to be her first guest post.

Here it is!

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Puppy Mills

By Monika McDonald

Puppy Mills…a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Elsa, a Standard Poodle who probably lived 4 years or more in a mill, was rescued from a Northern Colorado puppy mill along with 8 other Standards (you can  read her story at the link). She was basically feral, shy but very sweet and curious and showed signs there was a lovely sweet companion beneath the matted filthy hair.

Recently I was given the opportunity to write a guest post for Paul at Learning from Dogs. Hold on to your hankies while I share some of the more disturbing facts uncovered from various sources. After much negative media coverage concerning large-scale dog dealers (i.e. breeders and brokers) failing to adequately monitor humane treatment for the animals under their care, the United States Department of Agriculture conducted an audit in 2010, some findings of which are noted below. Although Elsa was rescued through the local poodle rescue organization, I’m also featuring another group, the National Mill Dog Rescue group, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It is estimated there may be as many as 15,000 mills throughout the country, with a large number located in the heartland of the US. Simply put, puppy mills are dog breeding operations that put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs.

They can be a large or small operation, licensed by the USDA or unlicensed. It should be noted that in order to sell to a pet store, a breeder must be licensed, though many violate that requirement. According to the USDA, breeders…breed and raise animals on the premises whereas brokers negotiate or arrange for the purchase, sale or transport of animals in commerce. Puppy mills may house anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dogs, however smaller does not necessarily mean better.

Elsa was rescued from a very small mill with the same horrific conditions as the large ones. Puppy mills are everywhere, but a large concentration is located in the Midwest. Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the United States. Amish and Mennonite communities (particularly in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania) also run a large number of puppy mills.

Breeding parents spend their lives in 24-hour confinement in cages often stacked on top of each other. Protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather is rare and dogs live in filthy, unsanitary conditions receiving little or no veterinary care (some puppy mill owners often provide veterinary care without anesthesia or vet training). Female dogs are bred every heat cycle and are killed (or offered at auction) when they can no longer produce litters. Puppies are often taken from their mothers too young and can develop serious health or behavioral issues due to the conditions in which they are bred and shipped. Genetic diseases often result from the over-breeding. The bottom line is that puppy mills are all about profits. Any money spent on veterinary care, quality food, shelter, or staff to care for the dogs cuts into the profit margin.

Where are puppy mill puppies sold? Two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in  mills are pet stores, and the Internet. Nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for puppy mills and are essential for keeping puppy mills in business. Both licensed and unlicensed mills sell to pet stores with many mills selling to pet stores without the required license and not held accountable. Puppies are bred in mills and then shipped all over the country. Shipping conditions are inhumane. They can be forced to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and confined in a small space where diseases can be easily transmitted. Many puppies do not survive.

Background Info. In 1966, Congress passed Public Law 89-544, known as the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, to regulate the humane care and handling of dogs, cats, and other laboratory animals. In 1970 the law was amended (Public Law 91-579), changing the name to Animal Welfare Act (with subsequent amendments passed in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1990, 2002, 2007, and 2008). In 2010 the USDA conducted an audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Animal Care unit (AC) who are responsible for enforcing the act (the “Audit)”. Data cited is compiled from that Audit.

Inspections Conducted in FYs 2006-2008

Years

2006

2007

2008

No. of Inspectors

99

101

99

No. of Inspections*

17,978

16,542

15,722

Average Inspections Per Inspector

182

164

159

* These numbers include inspections on all licensees (i.e., dealers and exhibitors) and registrants (i.e., research facilities) under AWA.
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Tomorrow I will publish Part Two of Puppy Mills.

12 thoughts on “Puppy Mills, Part One!

  1. This is a very sad subject. Yes, when I hear of the inhumane conditions it makes me angry. So glad that law enforcement is cracking down on this problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To say the law enforcement is cracking down is rather a bit of an overstatement. Puppy mills continue to act more like a sad game of whack-a-mole with far too many animals being the victim of profit. The only way to truly stop this inhumane treatment is to hit these places at their bottom line.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently watched “Life in the Doghouse” on Netflix which is a fine documentary on a single dog shelter run by two men. It touches on puppy mills also with some heart-breaking examples of older puppies abandoned that ‘don’t sell.’ No question, puppy mills are a scourge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this article! This is such an important topic that everyone should be aware of. My first dog was a Maltese that was rescued from a puppy mill, and she was so scared of new people, it was heartbreaking. Since then I’ve been trying to spread the word about puppy mills, so I was really happy to see this article about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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