We recently received an email from the Humane Society of the United States about The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act that will appear on the November ballot in Missouri. I decided to research puppy mills a bit more to write about it here on PetsBlogs. There was a lot of information showing the extent of the problem and I’ll warn you, it’s pretty heartbreaking.
There are seven states that are known as puppy mill states because they have the majority of the puppy mills in the country. They are: Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
Tragically, approximately 40 percent of all pet store puppies nationwide come from Missouri, where nearly 200,000 breeding dogs produce up to a million puppies a year.
Approximately 3,500 pet stores in the United States sell puppies. They sell approximately 500,000 thousand puppies a year. The puppy industry in Missouri has an estimated valued of 40 million dollars a year. Lancaster County in Pennsylvania has a puppy industry valued at 4 million dollars a year.
There are hundreds of thousands of puppies raised each year in commercial kennels. The dogs are kept in small wire cages for their entire lives. They never touch solid ground or grass to run and play. The cages are overcrowded and often offer unsanitary conditions, without adequate health care, food, water or human company. Some of the cages are outside where the dogs are subject to the extreme cold or heat.
Indoor facilities have equally terrible conditions, with ammonia vapors and odors permeating badly aired buildings. The puppies may have immediate health problems such as respiratory infections or pneumonia and some even have genetic diseases that show up years later. The breeding dogs are bred as often as possible to increase profits then put to sleep as soon as they can no longer produce. They never experience the love and compassion they deserve!
Unlicensed puppy mills often sell puppies at six weeks of age, even though federal laws prohibit licensed mills from selling puppies under eight weeks of age. There is federal law, the Animal Welfare Act, and many states have laws that purport to regulate puppymills, but the fact is that those laws are rarely enforced. No states have laws against a breeding kennel legally keeping dozens of dogs in cages for their entire lives, if food, water, and shelter are provided. There are puppy mills that aren’t even regulated or inspected by the USDA, since many of them sell directly to the public.
Puppy mills are the main suppliers to pet stores, even though pet stores often tell customers that their puppies come from local breeders or quality breeders. Puppies that come from puppy mills are often not purebred. Ask to see the paperwork and find out where the puppies really come from. If people refused to buy a puppy in a pet store or from an Internet site, and refuse to buy supplies from any pet store or Internet site that sells puppies, the misery of puppy mills would certainly ease up. Unfortunately, as long as it’s profitable, mills will continue to exist at the expense of the animals.
When you decide to get a puppy, please consider adoption. Animal shelters have an ample supply of puppies, many of them purebreds. There are also breed specific rescue groups for every breed of dog.
If adoption is not for you, do your homework and find a responsible breeder and visit their premises. Never buy a puppy without seeing their parents and where they live!
There are many legitimate ads in local newspapers offering puppies. Go to the home and see the conditions in which they were raised.
Remember that pet stores do sell puppy mill puppies. False claims are not uncommon when the pet stores are trying to make a sale.
Also beware of websites that say great things about their “home raised” or “family raised” puppies. Puppy millers pose as small family breeders online and in newspaper and magazine ads. Just because they say it doesn’t make it true.
If you are tempted to “rescue” a puppy mill puppy by purchasing it from a pet store, just remember you are enabling the industry by putting money back into their pockets to produce more! It’s a futile excuse for getting the pup you fell in love with. The easiest way to not fall in love with that little doggie in the window is to not visit the store! If no one visits, they’re not going to sell any puppies any more.
The Humane Society of the United States is working hard to combat the problem of puppy mills. They are the nation’s leading advocate for legislation to regulate them. They have fought for strengthened provisions and broader enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act. For more information visit http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/.