We’ve all done it. Who could resist? It’s hard to pass by the mall pet shop without stopping in to see all of the adorable pups for sale. They wag their tails so happily when you look at them through the glass that separates you from them. What you don’t see, however, are the horrors many of these pups have endured before they made it to that pet shop.
First, let me stress to you that NO reputable, responsible breeder will EVER sell to pet shops, PERIOD. The pups you see in these places all come from what many call Puppy Mills. Some are better than others – these kennels run the gamut from “commercial kennels” where the dogs receive almost decent treatment and an acceptable level of care to Puppy Mills, which are much less breeding kennels than factories, where puppies are bred constantly, and under horrible conditions. The bitches are forced to breed every heat, or every other heat (only if they are lucky). No thought goes into the breedings – whichever bitch is bred to whatever stud. Indiscriminate breeding leads to pups with a lot of health and personality problems, and does nothing to better the breed, which should be the reason to breed in the first place.
Let me describe for you the conditions typically found in Puppy Mills. The dogs are poorly treated, often malnourished and dehydrated (which in turn will effect the pups during pregnancy). They are not allowed to run free or exercise. Instead, they are kept in small cages, usually barely large enough for them to stand up, turn around and lay down. These are open wire cages, typically stacked several high, which allows feces and urine to fall through onto the dogs below. When a litter is born (in the same filthy cage the dam lives in), they will spend as little as four or five weeks with their dam (even though most states have laws that make it illegal to sell a pup before it is eight weeks old). The pups are then sold to Puppy Brokers, who act as middle men, and in turn sell the pups to Pet Shops. These poor pups are treated like common freight, placed two and three in a single crate (designed for one pup), loaded in the back of a semi, and hauled across the country to be delivered to the Shops. Many times, the pups don’t make it, dying of heat stroke, malnutrition and dehydration along the way.
Once the pups reach the Shop, they are placed in cages (sometimes two in a cage, as we are sure you have seen) behind glass walls. They may spend months in those cages, their time out mainly limited to the people who want to see them with the thought of buying them. They are harassed by the dozens of people passing by their window every day, and by those who ignore the posted signs and bang on the window to get the pup’s attention. There is no telling what fate befalls the pup that goes un bought, and passes the “cute puppy” phase, thus being deemed “unsalable”.
The media does, from time to time, report on the horrors these poor creatures endure just to keep the pet-buying public happy. But it is not enough, which is why we felt the need to give you this information. I had seen the reports many years ago, but, since this was not fresh in my mind when we were looking for a dog, we succumbed to the fuzzy face of Kira, and took her home. Yes, we were lucky that we found a reasonably healthy dog, though most genetic problems don’t show up for many years.
In buying Kira, we supported the irresponsible breedings that continue to fill the pet shop windows. Many people say “Those dogs need homes. They need to be saved”. It is very easy to let emotion lead your mind on such an issue. But the fact is that every time someone buys a pup (or a kitten, for that matter) from these shops, that tells those doing the breeding that there is a demand for these dogs, and the poor bitches are bred yet again. In the long run, buying that pup will cause more harm than good, to the dogs being forced to breed and to the breed itself. Do yourself and the brood bitches a favor, and go to a good breeder to buy a pup.
Alternatives to not buying a Puppy From a Pet Shop
There are many places to find wonderful companion animals. And you’ll feel better for having chosen one of the suggestions below, because you will not be supporting the puppy mill industry.
Your Local Humane Society. This is an especially good option if having a pure bred pet isn’t your highest concern, though often the HS will have pure bred dogs as well as those of mixed breeds. For about $50, you can get a sweet, loving animal that will be a great addition to your family. The price will include spaying/neutering, preliminary vet care (shots, worming, etc) and the dog’s license.
Breed Rescue Programs. If your heart is set on having a pure bred dog, and you don’t mind having one that may not be a pup, this is a great choice. Breed Rescues take in animals of a specific breed, and, like a good breeder, screens would-be owners to find those who are best suited for each individual dog. To learn more, read “What To Expect From Breed Rescue” . If, after reading this article, you decide this is the way for you, check out Kyler Laird’s Animal Rescue Resources . This is the most comprehensive list of Breed Rescues I have found. It is set up by breed – simply select the breed you like and it will give you a list of Rescue Groups.
A Good, Reputable Breeder. This may take the most research and work, but a good breeder is your best choice if you want an excellent quality pup with health guarantees. From reading the previous pages, you will hopefully have an idea of how to distinguish a good breeder from a backyard breeder. Finding them may be a bit trickier, but well worth the effort. Your best bet is probably to contact your local chapter of the American Kennel Club, and ask for a breeder reference. You can also buy one of the dog magazines, and look for a breed club ad. Contact the club and again, ask for a referral.