In the previous article about puppy mills, the history of how they came about and the conditions that the animals must endure were discussed. Puppy mills do not only breed dogs, some breed cats, rabbits, and other “cash crop” purebred pets.
Puppy mills often are overcrowded and dirty. The puppies are transported to various pet stores around the country in trucks and may arrive sick, dehydrated, hungry, or worse. Medical records that are given to the consumer when buying a puppy may not be completely true and may contain lineage lines, pedigree papers, and other official documents that turn out to be false. Armed with all this information there are several things we, as pet owners, can do to make sure that we do not support puppy mills.
Action We Can Take
1: Find a responsible breeder who will welcome you to meet the puppies, the parents, and allow you to see that the animals are clean, healthy, and socialized.
2: A good breeder will offer guidance, support, and recommendations of how to successfully welcome the new dog into your home. They will also never overbreed and may only have one or two litters available a year.
3: A good breeder will have health certificates for each puppy or kitten and disclose any and all information regarding a disease, genetic deformity, or other problem.
4: The laws to crack down on puppy mills are not widespread but are growing. Some states do not regulate breeding, others have federal and state regulations, but loopholes allow puppy mills, commercial breeders, and puppy farms to sell directly to the public via internet, newspaper ads, or other means which makes them “retailers” as opposed to “breeders” in the legal world. For example, the Animal Welfare Act does not apply to facilities that sell directly to the public.
5: 20 states have enacted a “lemon law” regarding buying pets from a pet store. This is to protect the consumer similar to the law about buying a car from a dealer. If a puppy purchased turns out to be ill, the pet store the animal was purchased from is financially responsible for the pet.
6: If you are looking for a new pet, consider adopting and visit your local humane society, county shelter, or rescue group. The most well known website for finding a new pet is petfinder.com.
7: Avoid the desire to “rescue” a pet from a store, as much as that one puppy or kitten may love to out of the cage, it supports the continuation of bad breeding.
8: Do your homework on the breed that you are interested in and learn about the health, temperament, and physical features that are common among the breed. Know what to look for and if the breed is right for you. A forever home is just that, forever. It would be painful and sad to find out after a few weeks or months that the pet you have is not a good fit and have to find a new home for him/her.
9: If a bill is on the table in your state regarding puppy mills, vote.
10: Take pledges to help educate, fight, and raise awareness about puppy mills. The ASPCA has a great campaign regarding fighting puppy mills.
There are several types of breeders, brokers, and levels of management when it comes to selling puppies and knowing the differences among them is important when bringing a new pet into your home.
Here are some of the different terms commonly used regarding those who breed and sell:
Hobby Breeder: a breeder who usually breeds only one breed and wants to preserve the breed. A breeding plan, clean crate or area, and plenty of human interaction is given to the animals. They will screen to try and eliminate hereditary defects and protect the breed. The puppies are placed in homes that are well-screened.
Commercial Breeder: someone who breeds several different breeds for profit as a primary motive. The dogs may be healthy but may not have the highest quality of care, food, or attention. The dogs are often not screened for health defects and the puppies are sold online, to pet stores, and brokers.
Broker: the middle man between the breeder and the retail outlet. The broker arranges for the shipment of the puppies and kittens to various stores using airlines or truck routes. They are licensed by the USDA and are supposed to abide by regulations stated in the Animal Welfare Act.
Bunchers: there job is to collect dogs either from buying them, sometimes stealing them, or “adopting them” and then reselling them to laboratories at industrial research labs and sometimes veterinary schools.
Puppy Mill: a breeder who produces as many puppies as fast as possible for profit. There is no breeding program, health checks, or screening of parents to find the best representation of a breed. The facility is often dirty, crowded, and the pets are often confined and fed poor diets. The puppies are often taken away before being fully weaned to be sold as young as possible.
Backyard Breeder: this type of breeder tends to be someone who breeds their dog for small profits. They do not pay attention to breed standards, temperament, or health issues. If the puppies are sold and create a small profit, the backyard breeder may continue this practice as an extra source of income and without creating a limitation, can easily become a puppy mill breeder or commercial breeder over time.
If you are looking to bring a new pet into your home, be patient. Your local shelter may not have any new kittens or puppies right now, a breeder may not have a litter ready for another few months, and this is ok. Your pet is with you for many many years and it’s worth the wait of a few weeks or months to find your new buddy.