So I know everyone reading this is probably thinking, “Of course I know what a puppy mill is.”
Well, since Puppy Mill Awareness Day is coming up tomorrow (9/19/09), I thought I would review what I consider to be a puppy mill. From what I understand, some pet stores have actually taken legal action against protesting non-profits for saying their puppies come from puppy mills. I think the pet store’s argument is that their is no formal definition of a puppy mill. So I guess I have to be a bit careful in what I say, but here goes:
Based on a cursory review of the Internet, I was able to piece together the following “formal” definition:
A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility that some consider to operate under substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care. Similar types of operations exist for other animals commonly kept as pets or used as feed for other animals.
The term can be applied to operations involving other animals commercially bred for profit, e.g. “kitty mills. There are an estimated 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. that produce more than half a million puppies a year.
If these are irresponsible breeders, what then defines a “responsible breeder?” Again, I went online to find a simple definition:
Responsible breeders raise their animals with the intent to produce a healthy dog, and to provide a quality pet for responsible owners. Good breeders will take into consideration breed-specific health problems, genetic screening, physical condition, age of the dog and temperament before producing litters. Good breeders carefully nurture the mothers and the puppies they produce. They constantly check the puppies’ health, and ensure they are properly socialized.
What Goes On In A Puppy Mill…exactly?
In puppy mills, females are sometimes forced to breed every time they are in heat. The owner’s idea is simply to maximize the profit-making potential of the dog, even though doing so will result in gradually smaller litter sizes.
Dogs in puppy mills are often bred indiscriminately. While the puppies produced may come with pedigrees, the pedigree itself is neither an indication of quality nor authenticity. In fact, most pet stores do NOT know the full details of where they get their dogs from nor the conditions the puppies are bred in. (I would add that in my opinion that most pet stores that do sell dogs are only in it for profit). For more information look into the APRI registration you must have in order to have a dog that is APRI registered. As always, BUYER BEWARE!!!! Make smart choices!
Mill puppies are often weaned from their mothers well before the 8-10 weeks recommended by vets, so they can be shipped out to brokers and stores for resale ASAP. Also consider the following paragraph before buying a new puppy:
Due to the sometimes poor breeding conditions in puppy mills, puppies bred there tend to have health and social problems. Puppies raised in a cramped environment shared by many other dogs become poorly socialized to other dogs and to humans. Dogs are then transported over long distances in poor conditions, sometimes resulting in the deaths of many dogs. As the surviving mill dogs grow older, they are more prone to developing respiratory ailments and pneumonia, as well as hereditary defects such as hip dysplasia. In addition, mill dogs are more prone to have problems with their temperament. Puppies from mills are usually sold as purebred dogs in an attempt to attract the higher prices associated with purebreds. However, due to the indiscriminate breeding practices of puppy mills, the dog may or may not actually be a purebred puppy.
The vast majority of puppy mill animals are sold to pet stores by “dealers”. Some puppies are sold by dealers masquerading as authentic breeders.