You may have seen that cute little puppy in your local pet store window and just want to take him home. No one ever thinks twice about where that cute puppy came from or it’s history. All you really get is, that it’s an AKC (American kennel Club), and a large price tag. You purchase your new puppy and you bring it home to your family and pretty soon you notice your dog has a long list of health problems like seizures and diabetes. Eventually, after a few years, your dog dies, leaving you and your family with empty wallets and even emptier hearts. You learn later on, your dog came from a puppy mill.
What is a puppy mill? A puppy mill is a large scale commercial breeding operation in which there is little regard for the dogs well being. It has become a multi-million dollar operation with pet shops being the leading clientele. About 40% of puppy mill dogs will be sold at pet stores across the U.S. All puppy mill dogs are purebreds. Purebreds are known as the cash cow in a breeder’s eye. Most dogs in puppy mills are over bred and live in overcrowded kennels with very little care. There is a large cause of inbreeding which leads to many medical and psychological issues with the dogs such as, distemper and kennel cough. A puppy mill pup usually gets separated from it’s mother at around six weeks of age. 3 out of 5 liters do not survive due to inbreeding. What’s even more devastating, is when the female dog can no longer reproduce, she is euthanized. Most people who purchase a puppy mill dog do not even realize what their dog has been though. Puppy mills started in the early 1900’s in the state of Missouri. Suddenly the large demand for rare purebred dogs would economize breeders and farmers. Unfortunately, Missouri is still the leading state for housing puppy mills. According to the ASPCA, Lancaster, PA has the highest concentration for puppy mills on the east coast.
What can we do to stop puppy mills? When you consider adding a puppy to your home, opt to adopt. Many animal shelters have a variety of dogs to choose from. All the dogs are kept in individual kennels and have one on one care. Shelter dogs are up to date on their shots and most shelters before you adopt give you a background check to see that the dogs get adopted out to a loving home. If you’d rather have a purebred dog, look at rescue breeders. These breeders are no kill and insure the dogs with proper health as well as open space to run around. Rescue breeders specialize in care for a specific breed, but will take in any age dog. For example the national greyhound adoption center specializes in rescuing greyhounds. If anyone is interested visit http://www.ngap.org. For more info on adopting from your local shelter visit http://www.aspca.com. Make sure before purchasing a dog, you do your research. A dog is a lifetime commitment.