Puppy Mills: How We Unknowingly Lend a Hand to Animal Abusers

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Despite Man’s claimed superiority over the rest of the species, we don’t really own the planet. Earth and its inhabitants are not ours to do with as we please. Nothing gives us the right to abuse or exploit animals for personal gain. Humans go on with their lives performing under the assumption that other creatures only exist to serve our existence. Those we cannot eat we will probably experiment on; those we cannot raise at home we will sell their skin, and the list is long.

Although we can, to an extent, justify our use of animals for humanity’s greater interest, we can never sit down with a clear conscience and rationalize Man’s cruelty towards these animals out of greed and depravity. Along history, far too many practices abused animals: some called it a sacrifice, a means to a noble end, and some didn’t even care to call it anything and just did, for money, for knowledge, or out of wickedness. In this article, we will learn about the appalling stories behind the scenes. What happens before the cute little puppies are brought to the safety of our homes? Most probably, puppy mills.

|SEE ALSO: Children and Pets|

Animal Rights

The question of animal rights has long occupied philosophers and humanitarians. What qualifies a living being to have rights? Is it its ability to think? Is it its survival instinct? Is it its awareness that it exists? On this particular dilemma philosopher Jeremy Bentham comments, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” And yes, they can suffer. Animals experience feelings; perhaps their feelings are not as complex as ours but are nonetheless feelings. They get hungry and lonely and fearful. They can be affectionate or nervous or depressed. They familiarize with other creatures or animals of their kind. They are capable of picking favorites and of making simple associations. And finally, they can be happy, and they can be miserable. If we do know for a fact that these fellow creatures can feel, then how do we not take it into consideration? How is it that treating them like lifeless machines to serve a greedy interest is still a question of right or wrong?

What Are Puppy Mills?

A puppy mill is a dog breeding facility that mass-produces puppies for commercial purposes. Puppy mills prioritize profit over the dogs’ welfare and quantity over quality, so awful living conditions are the standard norm for the dogs.

Other animals can be bred in the same way. There are also kitty mills and such. The main commercial goal of these facilities is to always have cute little animals at hand. If that means breeding a female adult over and over again until her reproductive system fails, then so be it. The mills usually keep the mothers (the adult female dogs) and a fewer number of adult males to impregnate them regularly. The produced puppies are then sold to pet stores or on auctions. In a way it’s like a factory where female dogs are the machines: used with no regard to their needs or pains and then thrown away when they can’t function anymore. It’s too much of a grim reality to be the daily routine for the innocent helpless dogs.

Puppy Mills Conditions

The conditions inside puppy mills can be horrifyingly bad. Dogs are cramped in very small cages, too small for them to stand straight. They spend all their lives without seeing the sun or touching the grass, without human affection or the least bit of kindness. The food is contaminated and there is hardly ever any vet care. The dogs can be chained in the same location forever that the chains end up digging into their skin and having hair growing around it. Female dogs are impregnated every heat cycle, breeding as many as 140+ in their lifetimes. The dogs cannot walk properly and are extremely nervous and fearful all the time.

Some puppy mills go as far as brutally muting their dogs, clipping their throats so they would not make a noise. The female dogs have swollen nipples and tumors from the too frequent breast feeding. The cages are not clean, and dogs are left soaked in their own urine and feces. Those of them left outside chained to a tree or in an outdoor cage do not get any different considerations in the winter. The dogs can freeze to death or die of weakness. When a dog is not functioning as desired or is too sick and needs medical help they are dragged outside and shot. There is no humanity or sympathy inside puppy mills; not a dog of these gets an occasional pat on the head. The animals are sickly and are emotionally traumatized.

Specialists who rescue dogs off puppy mills report that they can hardly walk and are very nervous to the human touch. They were never washed or medically checked. They take several weeks to normalize human kindness. The rescued dogs need rehabilitation to heal from all the abuse and neglect. It is tragic to see how the puppy mill life consumes the poor creatures: the general weakness, the rash, the scabs, the bald spots on their skin, and the frightened look in their eyes. Despite all the misery, these cases are not hopeless. With enough patience and attention the dogs can heal and live a happy fulfilling life.

Read the inspiring story of Coconut the rescued dog who survived the ugliness he grew up into.

Types of Breeders

The business of dog breeding is not all bad. Some breeders are very responsible and take great care of their dogs. Here are a few distinctions you need to know from the Dog Owner’s Guide.

Hobby Breeder

A hobby breeder does it because he enjoys it. He has a breed or two (not more than 3) and works on preserving the breed and protecting it. He cares greatly for his dogs. His puppies grow in a friendly environment with plenty of human affection, either at home or in a clean kennel. He only breeds when a litter will enhance his breed. Finally, he makes sure every puppy ends up in a loving home.

Commercial Breeder

The commercial breeder does it for money. Profit is his first motivation. The conditions inside his kennels may be humane and they may be bad. He breeds several breeds of dogs but his breeds are often not screened for genetic diseases.

Broker

Brokers are shippers. They buy the puppies from commercial kennels and sell them to other kennels or to pet stores. Brokers must be licensed and must follow the shipping regulations.

Buncher

Bunchers collect dogs “of unknown origins” and they either sell them to laboratories or to other brokers. Bunchers are worse than puppy mills because they sell the puppies to laboratories for experimentation. They buy stolen dogs or adopt ones with the false pretense that they will provide them with good homes only to sell them to laboratories.

Amateur Breeder

An amateur breeder is a regular pet owner whose dog was impregnated either accidentally or purposefully. Amateur breeders are often ignorant of all the necessary details for breeding, like genetic diseases and breed standard.

Puppy Mills

According to the guide, a puppy mill is “a breeder who produces puppies with no breeding program, little attention to puppy placement, and poor health and socialization practices. Conditions in puppy mills are generally substandard and may be deplorable, and puppies and adult dogs may be malnourished, sickly, and of poor temperament.”

 By now you are probably curious at what breeding means and why is it so important anyway? We will answer this question now.

What is breeding anyway?

Breeding is the human management of animals’ offspring, by mating selected dogs with particular traits. It is done for profit and aims at preserving and developing the animal qualities that are beneficial for humans, for the purposes of sports, research, pleasure, or utility. It is mainly dependent on the science of genetics and requires certain knowledge in this area.

It might sound like a not good enough reason to torture and abuse animals for years and years, and that would be true. Nonetheless, breeders still have the choice of providing their dogs with clean and happy lives while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the breed. It is possible to still be humane about it, to make profit out of it without unnecessary cruelty.

Puppy Mills Regulations

In the United States, most animal use activities are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act. It is argued that the act’s regulations on puppy mills are not enough and that violations are hardly even punished. They argue that the legal standard of living for dogs in puppy mills is merely a survival standard. Cramping dogs in small cages is legal. The rules are loose and the enforcement is weak. Abusive kennels get licensed and later inspected and they still remain, allowing thousands of dogs to live in suffering and abuse every day. 

Puppy Mills Facts

In the following we will lay down some puppy mills facts, statistics, and numbers that explain the size of the issue.

  • According to PETA, almost all the puppies in pet stores are bred in puppy mills. Consumers are not told the truth about this. At the time of purchase, the pet store would provide the new pet owner with incorrect information on the breeder.
  • Only 26 states in the United States of America have laws that regulate dog kennels or prohibit the abuse and exploitation of animals.
  • Because of the awful conditions in puppy mills, dogs often have ear infections, tooth decay, and lesions in their eyes that eventually lead to blindness.
  • Pet stores across America sell up to 500.000 dogs per year. On the other hand, up to 7 million dogs are brought to shelters.

If these facts prove anything, it is that somehow we participate in the crime by allowing such businesses to flourish. So, what can we do?

Rescue Dogs!

Dogs are man’s best friend. No animal is friendlier, more loyal, or more loving than a dog is to his human companion. Dogs are beautiful and they make great pets; they enjoy our company and affection even more than we do theirs. They are smart, they learn, and they jump to the rescue whenever we fall in trouble. In this particular case, it’s our turn to rescue the dogs!

Animal care organizations assert that purchasing an animal from a pet store only helps prosper the business of cruel abusive kennels. Millions of animals are brought to shelter every year waiting for adoption, for loving homes and a chance at a happy life. Because these numbers are huge, most of these animals never get placed in a home. They either die in shelters of old age or they get euthanized because the shelter is running out of space. So while shelters struggle with the numbers of homeless dogs, greedy breeders are forcing female dogs into mass production that exhausts and consumes them.

There is no shortage in dogs; there is just misplacement. Puppy adoption is the solution. Shelters rescue dogs and allow you the opportunity to save their lives. Specific shelters for specific breeds also exist to cover the need for any particular lineage. Puppy adoption doesn’t only rescue a homeless dog but it puts an end to the prevalence of puppy mills as well. If pet lovers choose to adopt rather than buy their friends, puppy mills will be put out of business and thousands of lives will be salvaged.

Puppy adoption is not just a good deed; it is a step on the road of changing the really ugly reality of puppy mills.

Help make the world a better place today by adopting a little friend or donating to the cause! Donate at your local animal shelter and make sure your family and friends do not get their next pet from pet stores.

Also consider giving a rescue dog a loving home. Make up for the struggles and pains it had to go through all its life. Be the messenger of good intentions to our dear little abuse victims!  

Read also: The Bully Profile.

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