Dog News

Have You Ever Accidentally Supported a Puppy Mill?

by Shawn Finch, DVM

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Pet stores that sell puppies obtain their puppies from puppy mills.

Puppy mills are bad.

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Puppy mills – high volume dog breeders that produce puppies with little or no regard for the health or wellbeing of the breeding dogs

Pet stores often (but not always) sell healthy puppies.  It is quite possible to produce a healthy puppy from malnourished, overbred, miserable, unhealthy parents.  It is also possible to do this in very large numbers and make a profit, legally.

If you are buying a puppy, are you allowed to meet the puppy’s mother in her home environment?

Puppy mills will often sell their puppies to pet stores, website owners or “middle men” who sell to stores or website owners.  It gives them a degree of separation between their shockingly filthy, overcrowded locations and clean, shiny places for the public to shop for puppies.

Puppies are most impressionable between about eight and sixteen weeks of age.  This is the best time to introduce them to as many new beings and experiences as possible – other pups, dogs, cats, children, noises…Would a good breeder turn puppies over to a store to sit in a cage during these very impressionable first weeks?

Bringing a puppy home is a huge family commitment.  Would a good breeder turn their pups over to a store or internet site that screens people ONLY by the amount they are able to pay?

Shelters and rescues charge “adoption fees.”  Puppy mill endpoints sell puppies.  Semantics?  Maybe.  Or maybe it is a red flag to watch for when you are deciding where to adopt/buy your next family member.

Pet store puppies in their (sometimes) clean, shiny kennels, soon to be on their way home with their new (accidental puppy-mill supporting) families, do not need rescuing.  Their parents need rescuing.

Many good dog breeders are also involved in dog rescue.  However, NO good rescue groups also breed dogs.  If a “rescue” is also offering puppies bred in large numbers on site, walk away.

The number of bitches that can be successfully kept in a loving, attentive home and bred responsibly is ___.  I do not know, but it is a freaking lot less than the number usually legally allowed.  I would LOVE to hear what number you would put in that blank.

The dogs who are used in puppy mill breeding are often bred to death or destroyed when they are no longer producing puppies.  Because they are either purposely neglected or caretakers are overwhelmed by the large number of animals they have to care for, the dogs suffer from severe matting, urine scalding, wire flooring related injuries, starvation and other horrible, preventable conditions.  The common puppy mill condition that haunts me the most is osteomyelitis.

Osteomyelitis – bone infection.  Osteomyelitis can be contracted in any of several non-evil ways. However, it is also one possible complication of severe, end-stage dental disease, causing very painful jaw damage and bone loss.  If left unchecked, osteomyelitis secondary to untreated dental disease can even lead to dissolution of the lower jaw.  I HAVE NEVER SEEN DENTAL DISEASE OF THIS SEVERITY IN PRIVATE PRACTICE.  It is common in puppy mill dogs.

Shelters and rescues, I love you.  I am sending you mental hugs, because not only are you several thousand people strong in Omaha, you are just as awesome in the farthest corners of the world.

Petland, Pets-R-Us and Tully’s Kennels, I do not love you.

Excellent dog breeders, I love you.  Please continue to be a voice for your chosen breed and for dogs overall.  When puppy mills and the businesses that support them are gone, when shelters can focus mainly on sheltering and rescues can focus mainly on rescuing, we will need your super cute puppies born of their happy, healthy parents and raised under your loving care even more than we already do.

Appealing to the consciences of people who run puppy mills has not worked.  Legislation has helped but not solved the problem.  By continuing to educate dog lovers and decrease the demand for puppy mill puppies, perhaps we can cause puppy mills to shut down and the entire deplorable puppy mill industry to fade away.

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My Thoughts on Puppy Mills:  They make me sad.  And mad.  Lots of stuff makes me sad.  Not much makes me mad.

Dr. Lorie A. Huston’s Thoughts on Puppy Mills

Mel Freer’s Thoughts on Puppy Mills

Dr. Nancy Kay’s Thoughts on Puppy Mills

Dr. V’s Thoughts on Puppy Mills