Puppy mills and the real story behind pet store puppies

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The Humane Society of the United States (flickr)

Lizzy Anderson, Writer

Puppy mills have been around for years, but why do we still continue to let them to operate, when they break most animal cruelty laws?

When walking by pet stores, most people watch the dogs wrestling and playing, however most of these dogs are hiding a deep dark secret. Those cute puppies come from puppy mills. Puppy mills practice inhumane ways of breeding. The only thing that matters to these people is how much money they can make off of a dog before he or she dies.

Female dogs are bred every time they go into heat. A five year-old female dog could have already given birth to ten litters of puppies. After giving birth, the mother stays with the puppies until the breeder decides to separate them. Then the puppies are sold or put back into a cage to breed.

Rescuers are horrified by what they see. Dogs tightly packed into small cages. The smaller dogs in those cages are being slowly trampled to death. The animals live with infections that spread like wildfire from creating an epidemic. Many diseases are left untreated because no veterinary care is given. The dogs are often times malnourished because of the lack of fresh water and food. Their fur is often so matted that the breed and conditions of the animal are unidentifiable. Matted into the fur are bugs, feces, mud and dirt. Little to no teeth are in these animals’ mouths. The teeth that are left are often rotten and won’t be in for much longer. Most animals don’t ever see sunlight, but instead are kept in dark rooms. Often time the people who are running the puppy mill won’t pick up the messes the dogs make, and so the dogs are forced to walk, sleep, and eat while standing in there own feces. That puppy you just bought from the pet store that eats its own feces is a trait it picked up in the puppy mill. Without having enough food, the the dog eats its feces to prevent starving. Eventually that desperate act of survival turns into a habit.

Why is it that these places can continue to function when so many animal cruelty laws are broken? There are too many loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act. The act was written in 1996 before the age of internet retail. The act does not require humane conditions, just strictly what the animals need to survive. The dogs only need a cage six inches bigger then them, and can be legally kept in the cage for their whole lives. The federal inspectors do not punish the mills that violate the laws but instead turn their heads the other way.

Luckily there is progress in preventing these horrific puppy mills. Previously only breeders that sold to pet stores had to be inspected by the USDA. Mills that sold directly to the public however were not inspected. Many of the mills have earned the name “Internet puppy mills” for selling their puppies via the Internet. The mills that sell only to the public are now required to have USDA inspections. States are left with the decision to follow the Animal Welfare Act or created their own stricter set of laws. Twenty-one states do not have their own laws, instead follow the inhuman laws of the USDA Animal Welfare Act. Pennsylvania has the strictest and most humane laws against breeders.

To help stop puppy mills do not buy animals from pet stores, instead support your local shelters, like the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.