In recognition of National No Pet Store Puppies Day, we're reminding dog lovers why pet stores are not a good place to buy a new puppy. It's our hope that by now many of us are aware of the dangerous puppy mill industry. Nonetheless, it's best to provide a reminder or inform those who may not know about the industry behind pet stores.
A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding facility known for keeping their dogs in poor conditions and quick breeding. To create a profit, corners are cut, which results in poor care for dogs in puppy mills. Most puppy-selling pet stores keep the puppy mill industry alive. Their puppies generally come from facilities in rural Midwestern and Southern areas.
According to the above map from the ASPCA, the states with the most commercial dog breeding operations are Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It's normal for puppy mills to value profit over the health and safety of their dogs.
We advocate against purchasing any pet from a non-reputable source such as a puppy mill or untrustworthy pet store because the pets often suffer from many painful and potentially life-shortening veterinary problems. This is due to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and the lack of proper veterinary care.
For example, when 80 dogs were rescued in July 2011 from a puppy mill in Hertford, N.C. a veterinarian with the local SPCA found that almost 50% of the dogs had parasites, 23% suffered from ear infections, and all animals older than 18 months had moderate to severe periodontal disease. Had these dogs received proper veterinary care early on, they would not be exposed to such medical problems.
Why might people still purchase a pet from a pet store or puppy mill? They're known to be considerably "easier" and less "demanding" than adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. It can be less expensive as well. However, pet owners will find the cost of veterinary care to be much more expensive throughout their pet's lifetime.
Not purchasing pets from controversial pet stores will help cut off the demand for irresponsibly bred pets.
Shiloh and Kelsey in 2011
Speaking from personal experience, I know that my first dog was sadly bred in a puppy mill. In late 1999, my parents surprised my older brother and I with a beagle puppy, who we named Shiloh. He fortunately did not have too many health problems throughout his life, and lived to be 13 years old.
Once we were older and better understood the dangers of puppy mills, my parents told us they picked him up from a farm with tons of puppies in large kennels. I didn't see the conditions that the puppies were kept in. I don't think I'd ever want to.
Upon learning from that experience, we found our current dogs from an amazing small breeder who truly loves her dogs more than anything.
I don't harbor any ill will towards my parents for getting Shiloh from a puppy mill, because at the time there weren't enough resources to learn otherwise. We were a young family just looking to have our first family dog. Instead, I like to think that we saved Shiloh as we brought him into our dog-loving home.
As the latest win against mass commercial breeding, the New York State Senate just passed the New York Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill. This bill will prohibit the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores across the state. New York has one of the United States' highest number of puppy-selling pet stores, and this would strike a major blow to the puppy mill industry.
In Virginia, current laws state that commercial breeders are limited to no more than 50 breeding dogs and must have a valid business license issued by their locality. Their female dogs must also be annually certified healthy by a veterinarian in order to legally breed. Inspections are completed twice annually and any time there may be a complaint against the breeder. Furthermore, Virginia law states that all pet shops must receive their animals only from USDA licensed breeders or animal shelters/humane societies. However, many advocates do not see this as enough regulation to fight against puppy mills.
The Work Continues
There's still work to be done in the efforts against puppy mills, but each step taken makes a big difference. Help us put an end the puppy mill breeding industry by choosing to adopt your next pup from a shelter and encourage those you know to do the same! Depending on the size of the shelter or rescue group, there could be dozens of dogs available for adoption in one location.
If you do decide to get a pup from a breeder, be sure to take your time and do as much research as you can to ensure your future pet comes from a safe and loving environment. Many are very reputable and responsible, and they genuinely care for the pets they breed.
Even if you're not looking to adopt a new pet anytime soon, you can still work to raise awareness or donate to local campaigns that take action against irresponsible pet breeding. Take part to save future animals from living in puppy mills and eventually ban them altogether.