Which would you rather do?
In short, when you are buying a puppy at a pet store, it came from a puppy mill. In addition to being sold in pet stores, puppy mill dogs are also sold directly through the public via the Internet, through newspaper ads, and at swap meets and flea markets.
You may wonder, why does it matter where the puppy came from? It is because buying dogs that come from puppy mills supports an inhumane industry.
Puppy mills make sure that profit comes first over the well-being of the dogs that they sell. A responsible breeder places their primary importance on producing the healthiest puppies they possibly can, while a puppy mill focuses on quantity over genetic quality.
Sick dogs are often not removed from their breeding pools. As a result, many puppies are prone to have hereditary conditions such as: epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, deafness, eye problems, respiratory disorders and more. In addition to this, puppies from puppy mills will also have diseases such as: parvovirus, giardia, kennel cough, pneumonia, mange, fleas, ticks, heartworm and chronic diarrhea.
They also commonly have behavior problems, due to that fact that they are removed from their mothers and littermates at just 6 weeks old. This is important because they need time to spend with them in order to prevent puppies from developing problems such as extreme shyness, aggression, fear and anxiety.
It is the treatment of the animals at the puppy mills that is the most disturbing factor. Dogs are usually kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. They usually have inadequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. In order to minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. Sometimes these cages are stacked up in columns.
Even when a breeder follows the USDA standards, these can be very minimal. For example, it is completely legal to keep a dog in a cage only 6 inches longer than the dog in each direction, with a wire floor, stacked on top of another cage, for the entire life of the dog. Even though this would seem inhumane to most people, this is totally legal.
Dogs in puppy mills rarely get to experience toys, treats, exercise or basic grooming. Some dogs spend their entire life outdoors, while others never get to see the light of day. Dogs that breed the puppies are given little to no recovery time between litters. When the female can no longer reproduce, she is often put down. In addition to this, puppies who are born with obvious physical problems cannot be sold, so they are also put down.
At this time, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 USDA-licensed puppy mills found in the United States. However, there are many more than this that are in operation. Some are not required to have a license or others operate illegally without a license. The ASPCA has estimated that there could be a total of about 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S.
The number of dogs in a puppy mill can vary greatly. Some may only have 10 breeding dogs, where others run massive operations with more than 1,000 breeding dogs.
If a local pet store says that its dogs don’t come from a puppy mill, beware. This is because there is no legal definition for the term. If they say it came from a USDA licensed breeder, this is a puppy mill. The ASPCA says that because pet stores don’t screen their buyers, a responsible breeder would never sell a puppy through a pet store.
The pet store also may tell you that the dog has papers, implying that it came from a responsible breeder. All this means is that the parents of the dog both had papers as well. Many registered dogs come from puppy mills. The only way to know where the puppy came from is to see it with your own eyes.
If your heart is set on a purebred, look into breed rescue groups which exist for about every breed of dog there is. Be sure to visit your local shelter and look for a purebred as well as they can also be found there.
To avoid getting a puppy mill dog, always be sure to meet the puppy’s mother and see where the dogs live. You should never meet a breeder at an off-site location and never have a puppy shipped to you without you seeing it first.
The main thing you need to be sure of is that you never support pet stores that sell dogs from puppy mills. That means to not even buy food or toys from these places.
You may be thinking, “Someone needs to take care of these puppy mill puppies.” Don’t worry, someone or another will buy the dog. However, if less people are buying these dogs or it takes longer to sell them, they will be sold for a cheaper cost, which minimizes the profit for the pet stores and the puppy mills. The less amount of puppies that are sold in pet stores, the less of a demand there will be for the puppy mills to produce them.
The most humane thing you can do to help shut down these puppy mills is to choose to adopt instead. Doing this saves the life of a needy dog. Refuse to support an industry that has little care for the welfare of their dogs and a lot of care for filling their wallets.