It’s not something I like to think about often, but my dog Hunter most likely came from a puppy mill. Although I knew a little bit about the dangers of dogs from pet stores when I adopted him from a friend, I didn’t care too much at the time that he was originally purchased from a store. I just fell in love with his sassy personality and cute little fox face and knew he was the dog for me.
The day that I got all of his papers though and saw the certificate he came with that said if he died within a year I could get a “replacement dog” made me cry. The fact that anyone would think this was ok was heartbreaking. You can’t just “replace” a family member. If something happened to Hunter, that last thing I would want to do is run to the store to get a replacement.
I have often worried about his history since. Although he has mainly been healthy, a couple months after I adopted him he began limping and was diagnosed with Legg Perthes disease, a degeneration of the hip bone that can occur due to a trauma or from a genetic defect. Considering I didn’t recall him getting hurt or suffering any trauma, it seemed that this was most likely genetic. It was an expensive surgery, but he recovered well (better than I did, really, dealing with the stress of a dog who can’t walk for weeks), and it’s something I rarely think about now.
Puppy Hunter, the cutest thing you’ve ever seen:
Of course, no matter where you get your dog from you can never guarantee that he or she will be 100% healthy. But the facts about puppy mills (taken from the ASCPA Puppy Mill FAQ) are really scary:
- Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization.
- Puppies born in puppy mills are typically removed from their littermates and mothers at just six weeks of age, which can lead to extreme shyness, aggression, fear and anxiety.
- Female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. After a few years when they are no longer can reproduce, breeding females are typically killed.
Although I am so thankful Hunter was brought into this world, I hate to think about the conditions he may have come from. I especially hate to think what could’ve happened to his poor mother “Friskie” as she is named on his certificate. The luckiest ones are the ones saved by rescues, and they often have serious health and socialization issues.
As more people become aware of the horrors of puppy mills, changes are happening. The city of Chicago recently passed a law banning the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores and other cities have enacted similar laws. Last year, the state of Ohio took some action in this area passing stricter laws regarding puppy mills, requiring high volume breeders to get a license and abide by certain standards of care. Goddard’s Law, named after Dick Goddard, another law aimed at dealing with animal cruelty passed the House but has been stuck in Senate committees.
Whatever the answer is, I think we all can agree that something needs to be done. If you are in support of Goddard’s Law, you can write your Senator to let him know action needs to be taken. You can find your Senator here.
Or, if you want to stop the sale of puppy mill dogs and cats at pet stores, the Humane Society recommends:
1. Encourage local pet stores to become puppy-friendly
Contact the Humane Society at email@example.com with your name, phone number, city, and state. They’ll send instructions and a copy of the invitation and pledge, or you can download and print them at:
Visit local pet store(s) to explain the benefits of the program and invite them to sign.
Return the signed pledge(s) to the Humane Society.
2. Find a puppy-friendly pet store near you
Text “PUPPY” to 30644 to see puppy-friendly stores near you
Browse lists of puppy-friendly stores by state on their site. Here’s the list for Ohio: http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/pfps_oh.pdf
Also, visit: http://www.thepuppymillproject.org/take-action-now/ or http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/tips/what_you_can_do_stop_puppy_mills.html for more information on what you can do.
The number one, easiest thing you can do is adopt and encourage others to adopt! There are so many great dogs waiting for a home. Check out our adoption page and share with your friends: http://dogsinthecle.com/adopt
If we all begin supporting homeless dogs rather than buying from pet stores, maybe we can eventually stop the practice of unethical breeding. I am hopeful at least!