Puppy Mills, Puppy Mills and More Puppy Mills
The bane of existence for dogs, a life of neglect, abuse, torture and suffering, and when they have outlived their usefulness, an often brutal ending! Disease, malnutrition, dehydration, sickness and death flourish in cramped filthy cages, freezing in the winter, scorching in the summer. Females bred and over-bred from their first ‘heat’ cycle through every subsequent one until their bodies are so used up and broken down that death is a welcome release for them. They never know a kind word or a gentle touch.
And please believe me when I say that my description barely touches on the reality. If you have a strong enough stomach and hard enough heart, you can do a search engine query for ‘puppy mill’ and look at the images and read the horror stories.
Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania are known as the major puppy mill states but as you’ll see from the few examples below, puppy mills are not confined to just these states. You can find them in any state, mostly in the more rural areas. Most of the time the owners skate right on the edge of the law, but they know, no matter how much they deny it, that what they’re doing is not right, so they try to ‘hide’ their dirty little operations out of sight.
With recent heightened awareness of animal cruelties and abuses and more advocates fighting for ends to these abuses, you are seeing more and more of these inhumane ‘commercial breeders,’ as they call themselves, under scrutiny, raided, closed down and their owners finally facing charges of cruelty and abuse.
Burns, Idaho – Officials rescued 198 dog plus other animals from horrid conditions, living in their own feces and urine, no food or water in sight and owner, 60 yr old Dorothy Schatz charged with numerous counts of animal cruelty.
Gladewater, Texas – Almost 250 dogs rescued from a puppy mill. Several died from malnutrition and anemia, the rest, infested with parasites, malnourished, sick and worse will, hopefully, after treatment and recovery, have a second chance. The owner, Teresa Dawson, for now will spend 120 days at a mental health facility and was ordered to pay almost $25,000 in restitution.
St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana – Officials rescued 88 dogs in pathetic condition, many of whom would not have survived had they not been removed. The owner, Mattie Rowell, was being investigated for other crimes when officials discovered the dogs.
Young County, Texas – More than 100 dogs were rescued after police came across the puppy mill while investigating an accidental shooting in the area. Even more gruesome than the condition of the dogs was the discovery of the ‘pits’ on the property where an unknown number of dead animals had been just abandoned.
And these are just a few cases, there are many, many more and hundreds and hundreds of dogs. The costs of rescuing, treating and caring for these dogs often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, dollars that come from contributions, donations and our taxes. And far too often, after these dogs are finally healthy and cared for, they are returned to their abusers, back to the life of suffering and torture they were rescued from due to the leniency of the laws.
Cracking down on puppy mills is not easy. Many of these large ‘commercial breeders’ are backed by large organizations whose revenues depend on this mass breeding. Take the AKC for instance, it has been surmised that up to 80% of their registration fees come from ‘commercial breeders.’ Do you think they want them closed down? In theory, the AKC inspects about 5000 breeding organizations a year and they say when they find substandard conditions they will not issue registrations to the puppies produced there. Easy enough to overcome for puppy millers, just change the kennel name or registrar name.
Approximately 500,000 puppies are ‘produced’ each year from the country’s 4000-5000 puppy mills. About half the puppies die due to cruel substandard conditions. Even then, the ‘business’ is so lucrative that the losses are just considered ‘part of doing business,’ and they continue. They ‘trash’ their losses and rake in the bucks.
Almost as bad as the animal victims are the human victims; the people who buy the puppies either from a pet store, a newspaper ad, an internet ad or right from the puppy millers themselves. So many of these puppies are sick, disease ridden and their tiny bodies are usually dehydrated, malnourished not to mention genetic defects and other problems. People who buy these puppies often wound up spending thousands of dollars trying to fix their new canine companion that they have already grown attached to, only to have them die or live short, painful lives.
It’s a vicious cycle and there is only one way to break it. Laws and legislation will only go so far and many of these puppy millers can skate on the edge of abuse and cruelty laws, if they even exist, for years. People need to learn about puppy mills. So many people just plain do not know that the cute puppy in the window of that neighborhood pet shop comes from a puppy mill or that the ads in the newspaper or on the internet are for puppy mill puppies. Sure, pet shop owners will tell you they come from local breeders but unless you can actually check out the breeder and the puppy’s parents, you have no way of knowing. More than 95% of puppies come from mass breeding businesses, many of these fit into the description of a ‘puppy mill.’
Ethical breeders will not sell their puppies to just anyone. They care about what happens to the puppies after they go to their new homes. They provide health guarantees and many will have a contract that if things do not work out, the dog is to be returned to the breeder. Ethical breeders have standards and morals and care about the breed, not just lining their pockets on the misery of living creatures.
Yes, in some areas legislators are working to improve the laws but even if the measures pass they will still fall far short of what it will take to really make a difference. What is necessary is to get the word out, to educate and show people and teach people. There are thousands and thousands of dogs each year that are killed for lack of homes, why bring more puppies into the world, especially puppies that are sick, produced out of often, the most torturous and horrendous conditions imaginable.
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