It’s Time to Take on the Puppy Mills

June 13, 2007 at 9:58 pm (injustice) (, )

ke common misunderstandings about the treatment of the farm animals that give us food, the treatment of the pets which give us companionship are usually falsely romanticized and at the same time, kept from view. And for good reason. No decent person wants to know, or likes to see, that the animals we benefit from and love are tortured. That the females are made to spend the entirety of their lives pregnant and restricted to cages that allow maybe a few inches of breathing room. That they’re dirty, without veterinary care; that they’re abused, that they’re sick.

But this is the reality of the factory farm and the puppy mill alike.

Puppy mills are the factory farms of dog breeding, big commercial operations that produce puppies that are then distributed nationwide to pet stores and sold directly to consumers on the Web. The dogs are kept in small cages — which USDA regulations require to be no more than a few inches bigger than the dog — and females have puppies every time they come in season for their entire lives. The commercial mass breeding of dogs is not illegal, underground or small scale. Stephanie Shain, the outreach director of the Humane Society of the United States, says that of the 7 to 9 million dogs acquired in this country each year, between 2 and 4 million come from puppy mills. Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council figures suggest that around 300,000 to 400,000 puppies are sold in pet stores annually — a figure HSUS puts at closer to 500,000. A report from the American Veterinary Medical Association indicated that more than 200,000 American families bought puppies online in 2004.

Many of the puppies that come from mills like these are sold to people who have been told about the care (or lack thereof) that they’ve received prior to the exchange, but have never witnessed it themselves. They may have heard over the phone or read on the computer screen that the puppies they’re adopting came from breeders with big backyards and chew toys- you know, from sources that offer no accountability.

And it’s not like there aren’t consequences to such methods.

“One of my clients brought in a silky terrier puppy she had bought through a Web site,” she said. The puppy was sick with a preventable, highly contagious disease known as kennel cough, which had quickly developed into pneumonia. The owners pursued legal action against the Internet pet store, and learned that it had been the subject of previous legal actions and had also been investigated by local animal-control agencies. “That was my awakening about the Internet puppy problem.”

A while later, a second client brought a sick puppy to Dr. Hamilton’s hospital — this time on Christmas Eve. “I was at the emergency clinic checking my patients, and a client came in with a 17-ounce Yorkshire terrier/Pomeranian cross she had bought over the Internet 24 hours earlier,” she said. “And you know, a 17-ounce puppy has no business being shipped.” The little dog was cold and rigid, and on Christmas morning she began to have seizures. When the owner got the estimate for the puppy’s care, she decided to have her euthanized, instead.

That wasn’t OK with Dr. Hamilton. “I got the emergency clinic to get her to donate the puppy to the hospital, took her home, nursed her back to health and found her a home,” she said. “The Web site she got the puppy from had a supposed 48-hour guarantee that went into effect as soon as you paid for the dog. However, because they won’t actually ship a dog until you’ve completed payment, the guarantee basically expires before you even get the dog.”

The dogs arrive ill, diseased, and sometimes even with various limbs and other body parts missing. It’s almost too horrific to believe. So remember: when choosing a pet, choose responsibly. Buy from someone who treats your pet like an animal and not a commodity (the same goes for food and farm animals too, really, but that’s a different post). It’s the least you can do. And if there’s one thing we can all get behind, it should be this, right? I mean c’mon, everyone likes puppies.

(Cross-posted at YOUTHinkLeft).

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1 Comment

  1. maryann randisi said,

    I RESIDE IN MANALAPAN NEW JERSEY. I PURCHASED A PUPPY FROM A BREEDER WHO NAMES HIS BUSINESS AS “AL’S SPECIAL FRIENDS” LOCATED IN MILLSTONE, NEW JERSEY. AL’S SPECIAL FRIENDS ARE NOT, ABSOLUTELY NOT, HIS SPECIAL FRIENDS. THIS BREEDER RUNS AN UNLICENSED BUCK($$$) AND SCAM BUSINESS. AT THE TIME IT WAS UNBEKNOWNST TO ME. NOT ONE BUT TWO OF HIS PUPPIES THAT I HAD DIED RECENTLY. AL’S SPECIAL FRIENDS IS A COLD HEARTED SON OF A BITCH WHO BREEDS SICK PUPPIES AND HAS ALSOLUTELY, POSTIVELY NO REMORSE. MONEY RULES AND PUPPIES DIE. HE IS NEITHER REPUTABLE NOR LEGAL. BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HIS PUPPY MILL IS A BREEDING GROUND FOR VERY SICK PUPPIES. HE ALSO PRACTICES VETERNARIANY MEDICINE WHEN HE IS NOT A DOCTOR. PUT HIM ON YOUR WATCH AND WARNING LIST. TWO DEAD PUPPIES AND OUR HEART BREAK ARE THE RESULT OF AL’S SPECIAL FRIENDS NEGLIENCE. SHAME ON HIM. EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY .

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