What are Puppy Mills?
Puppy mills are commercial dog-breeding facilities where tens to hundreds of dogs are bred in unhealthy and usually inhumane conditions. Mostly female dogs are kept almost completely confined to a small cage just to be bred twice a year. All so puppies can be produced and sold off in the retail market.
The animals raised in puppy mills are put into cages. These cages are very small with most of them having just a few inches of space for the dogs to move. The cages are usually stacked on top of each other and lined in rows.
There are no basic amenities like protection from cold and heat, access to water, ventilation and sanitary hygiene. Puppies are not fed properly which leads to many of them becoming malnourished or sick.
Why are Puppy Mills Bad?
The Pet industry is a flourishing business that has millions of dogs being sold every year. With a consistent rise in the demand for puppies, puppy mill owners are eager to meet this demand.
The cruelty that animals are subjected to at mills is astonishing. It negatively impacts the physiological and psychological health of the dogs. At the heart of all the cruelty are the female dogs who are bred twice a year.
The dogs live on the absolute minimum food and water but are expected to keep producing puppies. The living conditions are so inhumane, that many of the dogs suffer their entire lives and die at an early age.
Unhealthy Living Conditions
Many dog owners may not be aware but their new pet could have several health complications. Their poor health can be a result of the unhealthy living environment that puppies are kept in right from birth. Feces and urine may not even be cleaned from the cages. They often get covered in their own urine which causes their fur to mat. This can result in the mothers developing a host of diseases that could get transferred to the puppies.
The mothers and newborns are also not allowed to walk outside in the open or given a chance to get exposed to new people. This can cause them to become timid and develop behavioral problems. They can become anxious and bark excessively.
They sometimes get injured while moving inside the cages. When they get hurt, the dogs are not given proper medical care. Untreated injuries can cause them to have infections or a lifelong problem from a poorly healed injury. Unhealthy mothers and puppies are often killed by mill owners because treating them cuts into their profits.
Dogs are not Fed Properly
There can be several hundred dogs in a single puppy mill. The owners don’t spend a lot of money on feeding or looking after their health. They are not even given an adequate amount of food and water. This causes many of them to become malnourished.
Females are Bred Frequently
The most brutally affected are the female dogs. They are generally made to breed twice a year which takes a great toll on their health. It may cause the females to burn out early on, at the age of 5 or 6. The worse thing is that once they are no longer able to produce, they are either sent away to shelters or killed.
This helps the mill owners to get a steady supply of new puppies. The focus is on producing as many puppies as possible and not looking after the health of the mothers. For most mill owners, dogs are nothing more than a money making commodity. When the puppies are born they are taken away from their mothers when they are as young as 4 to 6 weeks old. It has a severe impact on the mental health of the mothers. No mother would like to get separated from their children so early on.
Dogs can Develop Genetic Defects
Many times the dogs are crossbred to produce puppies with desired characteristics.
Mixing the dog breeds may give birth to cute looking puppies but it can lead to severe health and behavioral complications.
Newborns can be born with genetic defects like heart and respiratory conditions from their parents. It also becomes difficult to determine the behavior and needs of these mixed dogs. The future owners of these puppies may have a difficult time looking after them.
Cruel Transportation Practices
There are many mill owners who import dogs from outside America. The way in which the dogs are transported is shocking. Often they are not properly fed during transportation. They also don’t have access to water, sunlight and ventilation for most of the time. There are many who get injured and some even die, before reaching the puppy mills.
Even the puppies have to go through this upsetting journey when they are transported from mills to pet stores. Puppies are also put in cages and often transported hundreds of miles. With no access to basics like food and water many of the puppies are unable to survive the journey.
Are Puppy Mills Illegal?
Puppy mills are not illegal in America. They are governed by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) which is enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The act requires large-scale commercial breeders to be licensed. The mill owners need to provide the animals with basics like shelter, food and water. This allows the puppy mill owners to keep operating their facilities with bare minimum needs with the motive of selling them to earn big profits. The puppy mills can keep hundreds of breeding mothers stacked up in cages for their entire lives.
Puppy mills are flourishing because of one reason, there are millions who are buying puppies every year. Like any other business, the puppy mills look forward to matching the supply-demand equation of the puppies in the market. To address the cruelty against animals at puppy mills it is important to reduce the demand for these puppies.
What can You do to Help the Puppies?
The majority of the puppies at retail pet stores are sourced from puppy mills. The pet store owners purchase puppies at low prices from mills and sell them at high prices to the owners.
Because they are not illegal in most states, this practice isn’t going to just end on its own. If you want to do something about it and prevent cruelty to puppies and their parents, then stop buying puppies from pet stores that source them from mills. Next time when you or anyone you know wants to buy a puppy, ask them to request the pet store to show documentation about the puppy. This will allow you to find out if the puppy has been sourced from a mill. If the store owner is unwilling to show the documentation, it very likely means that the puppies have been sourced from mills.
Most responsible breeders who raise puppies with care and love do not sell their puppies to pet store owners. This is because they want to meet the owners individually to ensure that the puppies land up in good families. They also look after their parents. You can connect with responsible breeders and buy puppies from them. These puppies will be healthier because they have not been subjected to cruelty and have been raised near their parents
You can also adopt dogs from shelters and rescue homes. Every year thousands of dogs that are abandoned or rescued, land up at these facilities. They take great care of puppies and do not raise and sell them to earn profits. Adopting rescue dogs will help the abandoned puppies at shelters get adopted and also reduce the demand of puppies from mills. It may eventually prevent mill owners from breeding excessively and also reduces the cruelty of puppies and their mothers.
What Else Can You Do?
There are rescue groups around the country like RAGOM. RAGOM operates in the Midwest and works exclusively with Golden Retrievers. They take rescues from puppy mills or from breeders that can no longer show their dogs. Different rescue charities operate all over the country and rescue all types of dogs. These dogs have been given a 2nd chance at a good life. If your family wanted to give a dog the good life they always deserved, this is your chance. We highly suggest you contact a rescue group that operates in your area.