Puppy Mill Action Week – Please Spread the Word

In addition to this week being National Pet Week, it’s also Puppy Mill Action Week. It’s fitting though, since anyone who has a pet that they love should want to speak out against puppy mills.

I feel compelled to keep posting about this because I know from personal experience that not everyone is informed about why you should never buy a pet from a pet store. Recently, someone I know purchased a dog from a pet store and had to put the dog down the day after he bought him because he was so sick. This is an intelligent, informed person, so this tells me the word has not spread far enough about what you are supporting when you buy from a pet store.

So why does the fact he was bought at a pet store matter? I mean, any dog can get a disease or have a genetic disorder and die at a young age. Is it really because of where they came from? The answer to this is yes. If you saw the conditions these dogs live in and how sickly the mother and father are, you’d understand how likely it is that a dog coming from this situation will be sick.


The problem with pet store dogs is that they come from puppy mills, where dogs are bred solely for profit. Ethical breeders DO NOT sell to pet stores. Ethical breeding requires a concern for the health of all of the dogs involved. Ethical breeders follow certain practices, like only breeding a dog a certain amount of times and not removing puppies from their mother until they are at least eight weeks old. Good breeders also want to screen potential owners and ensure that the dogs will go to a good home. There is no way to ensure that when a dog is sold through a pet store.

Some lowlights of life in a puppy mill:

  • No socialization. Dogs are usually kept in wire cages, packed in with many other dogs
  • Breeding dogs are bred at every opportunity and killed when they can no longer breed
  • Dogs receive little to no medical care. Breeding dogs are not screened for diseases or potential illnesses they could pass to their liter
  • Puppies are removed from their liter before the eight week mark, which often results in psychological issues including fear, anxiety and other behavioral problems

I highly recommend you take some time to read this article, discussing some of the worst puppy mills in the U.S. (of which there is estimated to be about 10,000): http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2016/05/puppy-mills-horrible-hundred-2016.html

Photo courtesy of ASPCA
Photo credit: ASPCA

Here is a rundown of the Ohio offenders:

Marvin Burkholder, Berlin Kennel, Millersburg, Ohio (repeat offender) – Continued repeat violations; excessive feces.

Susan Fitzgerald, Canton, Ohio – Admitted to neutering puppies without a vet and without anesthesia per news reports; unlicensed dealer sells online at puppyfind.com and nextdaypets.com.

Abe Miller, Quail Creek Kennel, LLC, Charm, Ohio – Bought more than 100 puppies from unlicensed breeders; supplies puppies to Petland stores.

James A. Miller, Millersburg, Ohio – “Extremely lethargic, weak” spaniel found; dogs repeatedly found without solid flooring or adequate space in violation of state requirements.

Merle Miller, Holmesville, Ohio – Unsanitary conditions; severely matted dogs found repeatedly; many needed vet care.

John J. Nisley, Loudonville, Ohio – Dogs found lethargic and in pain during state inspection had not been treated by a vet.

Atlee Shetler, Millersburg, Ohio – Dogs had red, inflamed lesions.

Andy Yoder, Yoder Backroad Kennel, Millersburg, Ohio (repeat offender) – Puppy found with severe head wound had not been treated by a vet; continued to fail to give access to USDA inspectors even after $7,714 penalty.

Owen R. Yoder, Millersburg, Ohio – Failed to get veterinary care for 33 dogs with advanced dental disease, more than 6 months after being directed to have them treated.

Credit: http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2016/05/puppy-mills-horrible-hundred-2016.html
Photo Credit: http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2016/05/puppy-mills-horrible-hundred-2016.html

As I’ve mentioned before, my dog Hunter originally came from a pet store. I adopted him from a friend who took him in after his owner decided she didn’t want him anymore. (This is another less talked about problem with pet stores – impulse purchases. That cute little puppy in the window is hard to resist, until the person gets home and realizes how much work is involved.) Other than a surgery he had to have at eight months to repair his hip joint (most likely a genetic condition from poor breeding), I have been lucky and Hunter has been healthy.

There will always be exceptions and dogs that come from pet stores that are healthy. Maybe the situation Hunter came from wasn’t as bad as some, or maybe he is just lucky. It doesn’t really matter to me. As long as there are puppy mills still out there, buying a dog from a pet store is not ok. We can’t let so many dogs continue to suffer, bred over and over with no regard to their health, and so many dogs brought into this world only to die a short time later.

Oh – and side note. Buying a puppy online from a site like Puppy Find is just the same as supporting a puppy mill. A good breeder would never ship and sell a dog online.

Please spread the word. Unfortunately I am a little behind on the suggestions the Humane Society gave for things to do this week (http://www.hsi.org/issues/puppy_mills/tips/puppy_mill_action_week.html), but I will start by writing a letter to the editor at the Plain Dealer today.

I would love to hear other suggestions for what we can do to stop the sale of puppies at stores in Cleveland as well.


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