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Puppy Mill Dogs

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

How much is that puppy in the window?  The price is higher than you might think.

Where do all the puppies in the window come from?  The answer is what’s called a “puppy mill”. It’s a huge, money-making manufacturing operation that cares little for the animals themselves. The Humane Society of the United States strongly opposes pet shop sale of puppies and kittens because puppy-mill dogs are the "inventory" of these retail operations.  But the demand for these puppies comes from us consumers more than anything else as we perpetuate the myth of the “pure-bred puppy”. Examine your own thoughts. Do you think a pure-bred puppy makes a better family member and loyal friend than mutt? Why or why not?

The documented horrors of the puppy mill include over-breeding, in-breeding, minimal veterinary care, poor quality of food and shelter, lack of socialization with humans or dogs, over-crowded cages, and the killing of unwanted animals. To an unwitting consumer, this can mean buying a puppy facing an array of immediate veterinary problems, harboring genetically borne diseases and a puppy that may display his aggressive tendencies sooner rather than later. Also, many pet-store puppies are weaned way too early so they haven’t interacted with other dogs and can become mistrusting and fearful. Once home, that can translate into a high-strung, destructive, difficult to housetrain and generally disobedient puppy. Not so cute, after all!

The actual price tag is the highest you’ll pay for that type of puppy and you may think it’s because of it’s great quality or breed or that it has papers or has been well taken care of. Many pet stores are aware of the growing concern over puppy mills and will claim that its dogs were not bred in puppy mills. Some reputable chains do buy their stock from commercial kennels or brokers, but these sources are still in the business to make money, not breed healthy dogs and educate you about pet ownership.  Adding to the already high price tag of your pet store puppy will be vaccinations, worming, spaying or neutering or pet identification chips or tattoos which are all expenses left up to the inexperienced new owner.

If you are still tempted to purchase your new pet from a retail pet store, insist on seeing the breed registry papers which will list the wholesaler’s or breeder’s name and address for you to visit.  An interstate health certificate will also provide a copy of the eye and hip certifications as well as the absence of any genetic breed specific disorders.  Also ask what happens to the puppies and kittens they don’t sell? They won’t want to give you an answer!

Remember, sales people are not expert breeders or veterinarians.  Be sure that if you purchase from a pet store, that you have done your own homework on the breed you are selecting to make sure their size, temperament, shedding and hereditary inclinations are a good fit for every member of your family.

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