Just a Dog"
of Puppy Mills
Puppy Mill-these are words
that chill my heart and turn my stomach. Dateline, 20/20, NBC, Good
Morning America, and The Today Show have highlighted problems at
puppy mills, but some people still don’t know the horrors
of a puppy mill or what they can do to end this national disgrace.
If you can’t bring yourself to read about puppy mills, at
least read the last paragraph! Everyone needs to be aware of what
they can do to shut them down.
Puppy mills are found
all over the U.S., but are concentrated in high numbers in Missouri,
Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. It’s
a multi-million dollar industry supporting 5,000 puppy mills found
across the country.
A puppy mill is a business
that mass-produces dogs for a profit with minimal regard for the
quality and welfare of the animals. Thousands of dogs are bred for
profit, valued not for their companionship or for improving the
breed, but for the cold hard cash they bring.
The adult dogs spend their
entire lives in tiny cages in deplorable filthy conditions that
promote viruses and disease. These cages are often stacked on top
of one another so that the waste from one cage falls into the cage
below. Often the dogs go without food or water for days and are
likely to be underfed and in poor health. Dogs' lay and sleep in
their own excrement on wire bottomed cages that cut into their feet.
The most basic grooming care is non existent and their hair grows
matted and is often infested with fleas. Skin infections, open wounds,
ear and eye infections are common and usually not treated. There
have been many reports of dogs rescued from puppy mills with toenails
grown around in a full circle because they have never been trimmed.
These dogs can barely walk.
Starting at six months
of age, the female is bred every heat cycle. She is often weak,
malnourished, and dehydrated. The females are kept pregnant constantly
but receive little veterinary care due to the costs. Smaller breeds
of dogs often require surgery to deliver their pups, but don't get
it. This leads to the agonizing death of many females and their
puppies. Most females can’t maintain their productivity past
their fourth or fifth year and are than a drain on the mill's operation.
If she's lucky, she'll be humanely euthanized. More often than not,
she will be shot or bludgeoned to death. The puppies produced are
frequently of poor quality and ill health. They are often taken
from their mothers before they are old enough, in order to be shipped
across the country to pet stores. Many die of starvation, dehydration,
and/or fatigue on the journey.
dogs in outdoor wire cages, living in their own wastes were found
shivering from the cold, or with no protection from rain, cold winds,
or the blazing sun in the summer. Food was found infested with maggots
and drinking water was green with algae. Many animals suffered from
starvation and complete lack of water. It is not unusual for a dog
to go insane after living year after year in these conditions. Disturbing
behavior often caused by confinement includes constant running in
circles and self mutilation.
The idea of breeding a
dog is to create a good example of that dog, not only physically
but mentally. Dogs produced in puppy mills have contributed to deterioration
in the quality of many breeds. In a puppy mill, no genetic testing
is done which can detect serious hereditary conditions such as hip
dysplasia dislocating kneecaps, liver and heart diseases, auto-immune
disorders, and seizures. Inbreeding is common and can lead to temperament
problems, aggressive behavior or exaggerate undesirable inherited
personality traits. Most breeders do not properly vaccinate puppies
for such fatal diseases as distemper and parvo.
Pennsylvania, now breeds
more dogs than any state on the east coast and the concentration
of puppy mills in Lancaster County is unparalleled anywhere in the
country. In the heart of Amish and Mennonite country, thousands
of puppies in are crowded in locked buildings that used to be barns,
chicken coops or trailers and have been crudely converted into kennels.
Picture an old, falling
apart trailer or barn with 16"x36" wire cage kennels lining
the walls and stacked three high. Roofs are often rickety and leaking.
There is no heat in the winter and no cooling system when the temperatures
soar to 90 degrees. Waste is allowed to collect for days and the
floors of many are covered with urine and feces, and contaminated
with viruses. There is no ventilation, so the odor of feces and
urine is inescapable. The wire-bottom cages are not kept in good
repair and are usually rusting with feces hanging from the wire
bottoms. Paws are cut and infected by constantly standing on wire.
Animals are crowded, sometimes 3 or 4 in a cage, filthy from their
own excrement. Some females are very pregnant, some have pups in
the cages with them. All are filthy, matted and smelling. Many are
ill, but no vet will be called in. It cuts into the profit margin.
In the eyes of a puppy miller, they are all disposable. Visitors
are not allowed and photographs are prohibited.
Until recently, the ugly
truth of puppy mills has been hidden. Only recently the problems
of puppies with seizures, parasites, infections, bacteria and behavioral
problems has been investigated and linked to the conditions at puppy
mills. Even though all 50 states have anti-cruelty laws to prevent
neglect and mistreatment of dogs, such laws are seldom enforced
in rural areas, where most puppy mills are located.
The Animal Welfare Act
should ensure proper care, feeding, housing, and veterinary care
for dogs in puppy mills, however due to the shortage of inspectors,
the United States Department of Agriculture fails in its responsibility
to enforce these laws. Overbreeding dams, inbreeding, minimal veterinary
care, poor quality of food and shelter, lack of socialization with
humans, overcrowded cages, and the killing unwanted animals is common.
The recently introduced Puppy Protection Act, if passed, will help
the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforce the Animal Welfare Act
by encouraging swift and strong action against repeat violators.
It will also address the problem of incessant overbreeding by commercial
breeders and require that dogs be adequately socialized, enhancing
their well-being and helping to ensure fewer behavioral problems
in the future.
So are you wondering where
all these thousands of are puppies sold to? To pet stores across
More often than not, pet
stores get their puppies from puppy mills. That’s how they
keep all those different breeds of puppies in stock at any given
time. Next time you are drawn to a pet store window by a bin of
wriggling puppies, remember the origin of these pups and the endless
suffering their parents endure. The American Kennel Club (AKC) registration
papers that usually come with purebred pet shop puppies often impress
buyers and provide a false sense of security. This registration
doesn’t guarantee proper breeding conditions, health, quality,
or claims to lineage. The AKC registers thousands of puppy mill
puppies each year without questioning the horrendous conditions
in which these puppies are raised. Pet shop puppies commonly have
worms, upper respiratory infections, ear and eye infections, mange,
coccidia or giardia. Sick puppies, even those with contagious diseases
often share cages with well puppies.
Backyard breeders are
often no better than puppy mills. The living conditions are often
the same, but they run their business on a smaller scale. Be wary
of breeders who refuse to let you see their kennels, or the parents
of the pup. If they fail to produce a certificate of vaccination
and de-worming be cautious. Are they familiar with a specific puppy's
personality? If not, the pup has not been handled and socialized.
Can they answer questions about the breed? Will they give you names
of other buyers who have purchased their puppies? If not, find a
different place to buy your pup. Do not support backyard breeders!
If you see a situation that constitutes abuse, please call a humane
officer to investigate.
Reputable breeders love
and care for their animals as pets, not as gainful property. They
diligently maintain records of their litters, vaccinations, vet
care and general health of each animal. The genetic soundness of
their animals is of the greatest importance to them. They breed
for health and temperament, and are concerned with quality, not
quantity. The mother will be on the premises and the cages will
be clean and sheltered. Puppies require human contact at an early
age to make good pets. When you buy a puppy from a good breeder,
you can expect it to be well on its' way to socialization and used
to being handled and loved. Good breeders will want to know if you’re
responsible and if you’ll provide a good home for their puppy.
In addition, there are
rescue organizations for just about every breed of dog with purebred
dogs for adoption. The animal shelter and humane organizations also
often have purebred dogs. Consider adopting a dog from one of them
and save a life in the process.
Dogs hold a special place
in our hearts. They are our protectors, companions, and best friends.
A puppy mill is a place
that sells dogs for profit and it is a living hell for these creatures
of God. To the operators, the health of the dog doesn't matter.
The only concern is the profit. The only way to close down puppy
mills is to stop the demand for their puppies. Buying puppies from
pet shops supports puppy mills by increasing the demand. The Humane
Society, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and
many other animal welfare organizations urge consumers never buy
a puppy from a pet store.
(published with permission-
originally posted in Medina Gazette)
author: Sandy is a dog lover first and writer second. She
writes for the 'good of animals.' Sandy also volunteers at a 'low-cost
spayed clinic' and at a local rescue in Ohio.
Story About A Puppymill Puppy - From a Puppy's Point of View
I don't remember much from the place I was born. It was cramped
and dark and we were never played with by humans. I remember Mom
and her soft fur, but she was often sick, and very thin. She had
hardly any milk for me and my brothers and sisters. I remember many
of them dying, and I missed them so.
I do remember the day I was taken from Mom. I was so sad and scared,
my milk teeth had only just come in, and I really should have been
with Mom still, but she was so sick, and the humans kept saying
that they wanted money and were sick of the "mess" that
my sister and I made. So we were crated up and taken to a strange
place. Just the two of us. We huddled together and were scared,
still no human hands came to pet us or to love us.
So many sights and sounds, and smells!! We are in a store where
there are many different animals! Some that squawk! Some that meow!
Some that peep! My sister and I are jammed into a small cage, I
hear other puppies whine. I see humans looking at me, I like the
"little humans", they look like they'd be fun, like they
would play with me!
All day we are kept in the small cage, sometimes mean people will
hit the glass and frighten us, every once in a while we are taken
out to be held or shown to humans. Some are gentle, some hurt us,
we always hear "AW they are so cute! I want one!" but
we never get to go with any.
My sister died last night, when the store was dark. I lay my head
on her soft fur and felt the life leave her small thin body. I had
heard them say she was sick, and that I should be sold at a "discount
price" so that I would quickly leave the store. I softly whined
to mourn for her as they took her body out
of the cage in the morning, I wondered where they put her?
Today, a family came and bought me! Oh happy day!! They are a nice
family, they really, really wanted me! They had bought a dish and
food and the little girl held me so tenderly in her arms. I love
her so much! The mom and dad say what a sweet and good puppy I am!
I am named Angel. I love to lick my new humans!
The family takes such
good care of me, they are loving and tender and sweet. They gently
teach me right from wrong, give me good food and lots of "LOVE".
I want only to please these wonderful people! I love the little
girl and I enjoy running and playing with her.
Today I went to the
Veterinarian. It was a strange place and I was frightened. I got
some shots, but my best friend (the little girl) held me softly
and said it would be OK. So I relaxed. The Vet must have said sad
words to my beloved family, because they looked awfully sad. I heard
severe hip dysplacia, and
something about my heart... I heard the vet say something about,
back yard breeders and my parents not being tested. I didn't know
what any of this meant, just that it hurt me to see my family so
sad. But they still loved me, and I still loved them very much!!!
I am now 6 months old.
Where most of the other puppies are robust and rowdy, it hurts me
terribly just to move. The pain never lets up. It hurts to run and
play with my beloved little girl, and I find it hard to breathe.
I keep trying my best to be the strong pup I know I am supposed
to be, but it is so hard. It breaks my heart to see the little girl
so sad, and to hear her mom and dad talk about, it might now be
the time. Several times I have gone to the Veterinarians place.
I just wanted to feel the warm sunshine and run, and play and nuzzle
with my family.
Last night was the worst.
Pain has been my constant companion now, it hurts even to get up
and get a drink. I try to get up but can only whine in pain. I am
taken in the car one last time. Everyone is so sad, and I don't
Have I been bad? I try
to be good and loving, what have I done wrong? Oh if only this pain
would be gone! If only I could soothe the tears of the little girl.
I reach out my muzzle to lick her hand, but have to stop because
of the pain.
The Veterinarian's table
is so cold. I am so frightened. My humans hug and love me, they
cry into my soft fur. I can feel their love and sadness. I manage
to lick their hands softly. Even the vet doesn't seem so scary today.
He is gentle and I sense some kind of relief for my pain. The little
girl holds me softly and I thank her, for giving me all her love.
I feel a soft pinch in my foreleg.
The pain is beginning
to lift. I am beginning to feel a peace descend upon me. I can now
softly lick her hand. My vision is becoming dream like now, and
I see my Mother, my brothers and sisters, in a far off green place.
They tell me there is no pain there only peace and happiness. I
tell the family, good-bye in the only way I know how, a soft wag
of my tail and nuzzle of my nose. I had hoped to spend many, many
happy years with them, but it was not meant to be. The pain ends
now and, I know it will be many years until I see my beloved family
again. If only things could have been different.
"I am sorry,"
said the Vet. "Pet shop puppies do not come from ethical breeders.
I am so tired of putting so many of these kind of puppies to sleep."
This story may be published
or reprinted in the hopes that it will stop
unethical breeders and those who breed only for money and not for
of the breed.
Copyright 1999 J.Ellis
By Jim Willis, 2001
I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh.
You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and
a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend.
I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask, "How
could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a
housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were
terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those
nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences
and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more
went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice
cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs"
you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come
home at the end of the day.
you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more
time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted
you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about
bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when
you fell in love.
now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed
her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her.
I was happy because you were happy.
the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was
fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to
mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them,
and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog
crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of
they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur
and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes,
investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything
about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent
-- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would
sneak into their
beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together
we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.
had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you
produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about
me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and
changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog"
to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on
you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they
will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've
made the right decision for your "family," but there was
a time when I was your only family.
was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter.
It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled
out the paperwork and said, "I know you will find a good home
for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand
facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers."
had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed,
"No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I
worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about
friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about
respect for all life.
gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely
refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline
to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies
said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made
no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads
and asked, "How could you?"
are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules
allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago.
At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front,
hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was
all a bad dream. Or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared,
anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with
the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their
own fate, I retreated to a far corner and
waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the
day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room.
A blissfully quiet room.
placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry.
My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there
was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of
is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she
bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew
your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg
as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way
I used to comfort you so many years ago.
expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the
sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily,
looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry."
She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure
I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused
or abandoned, or have to fend for myself --a place of love and light
so very different from this earthly place.
with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump
of mytail that my "How could you?" was not directed at
her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of
you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone
in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
Note from the Author:
"How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read
it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite
story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die
each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Anyone is welcome
to distribute the essay for a
noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with
the copyright notice.
use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal
shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the
decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life,
that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another
for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society
or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all
life is precious.
do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all to do the same.