The Problem With Puppy Mills

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When I was younger, there was this run-down pet store kind of close to the market where my parents would go grocery shopping. Every time we went to the grocery store, I would beg and plead to stop by to play with the puppies and check out the guinea pigs and hamsters. My parents obliged and off I ran to the pet store called All About Animals. I’ll never forget that place. The people who worked in the store were very easygoing and often didn’t care if a clumsy child picked up one of their small, fragile puppies. That pet store was a huge part of my childhood. When I found out where the store got their puppies, I felt betrayed and sick that I even set foot in the store.

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Little did I know these puppies came from one of the many large scale commercial operations that breed dogs for profit. These terrible operations are called puppy mills. After learning about this, I stopped going to the pet store and soon, the place was shut down (not because of the puppy mills but most likely because the owners couldn’t properly care for any of the animals). Not too long ago, I noticed that Debby’s Petland, a small pet shop chain located in some of the local malls, was also shut down. This is another small victory in the step for creating a more humane world for animals.

DON’T BUY PUPPIES FROM THE PET STORE!

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I know it’s hard to walk by a pet store and not want to buy one of those adorable little pups. However, most of these cute creatures came from a puppy mill. Puppy mills are large-scale commercial operations that breed dogs for profit. They thrive on people who fall in love with the puppy in window. According to Best Friends Society, about three to four million puppies are raised in puppy mills each year.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT PUPPY MILLS?

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  • The adult breeding dogs are often the most mistreated of them all. They usually spend 24 hours, 7 days a week in a small cage where they are isolated from humans.
  • A single female could give birth to 60 pups. When she becomes too old to birth anymore, she’s simply killed.
  • These dogs often live in the filthiest of conditions; cages are filled with urine and feces, the dogs are often covered in ticks, and many have untreated injuries or malformations. 
  • Puppy mills try to maximize their profits by not spending a sufficient amount of money on buying their dogs necessities such as food, housing, and veterinary care.
  • Many of the puppies bred in a puppy mill will have some sort of illness or a genetic or emotional problem. Others could have medical issues that will end up costing you thousands of dollars to fix.

Although running a commercial breeding facility of this size isn’t legal in any of the fifty states, it is poorly regulated by the USDA (as is everything else… I find that the USDA pretty much fails at everything having to do with animals). According to the ASPCA, auditors visited 81 facilities and reviewed records documenting 28,443 violations over a two-year period. This would be a good thing if the USDA shut all of these facilities down. But they didn’t. Despite all of these violations, these facilities were allowed to continue breeding. This happened back in May, 2010 but the USDA still seems to be oblivious to the abuses these dogs have to endure.

National Geographic talks about why Puppy Mills are not humane.

WHERE ELSE CAN I BUY ADOPT A PUPPY IF NOT AT A PET STORE?

1. YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER

In my personal opinion, I think that more families should ADOPT their new best friend. Animal Shelters are full of great dogs just waiting to become the perfect addition to a family. Sadly, there are some dogs that will end up waiting forever. Some dogs never get to experience what it’s like to be loved unconditionally. Which is why I prefer people adopting over them buying purebreds from local breeders.

2. LOCAL BREEDERS

I am somewhat biased when it comes to buying from breeders. I think that mixed breeds are the way to go but I know that they are not for everyone. I don’t like that purebred puppies are (most of the time) a result of an incestuous breeding process, in which two related dogs have puppies together. I know that the dogs don’t know any different; it’s not the nature of it that bothers me. However, breeding two related dogs increases the chances of genetic mutation, physical deformities(example: German Shepherds are known for having hip problems later on in life) and disease. Purebred dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than mixed breeds because of these reasons.

3. RESCUE GROUPS

I understand why some people spend all the money to buy purebred dogs. Some families want a great family dog that is known for being loyal and calm so they may decide to go with a Labrador Retriever, which is known for being a great family dog. Or you may be a farmer who needs a great guard dog for your sheep, so you go with the Border Collie. Some situations require or incline you to buy a purebred dog simply for the characteristics that they were bred for. For those of you who are inclined to buy a purebred, I highly recommend searching for a rescue group in the area. There is a rescue group for every breed of dog, some more common than others. These may cost just as much as buying them from a local breeder, but these dogs are in greater need of a home.

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The honest truth of the matter is that WE are the only ones who can really stop puppy mills. Make sure to let everyone know where these pet stores get their puppies. Tell your friends and family not to buy their new best friend from the store down the street. Once these pet stores run out of consumers to buy their products, they will be forced to shut down. This will weaken the puppy mill(s) that once supplied them and will hopefully run them out of business for good.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK THESE OUT:

Pit bulls: The Most Misunderstood Dog Breed

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We’ve all seen at least one story on the news; “BOY INJURED AFTER A DOG ATTACKS!” “MAD PIT BULL ATTACKS, KILLING ANOTHER DOG!” “POLICE SHOOT PIT BULL AFTER IT ATTACKS A WOMAN WALKING DOWN THE STREET!” There have been so many of those stories that some cities (such as Miami, Denver, and Cincinnati) have started to put a ban on owning Pit Bulls. Note: There is really no such thing as a “pit bull”; it’s just a term used to encompass all American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Recently, in Douglasville, GA, they proposed that no one is allowed to buy a pit bull. If someone already owns a pit bull, they must “register them or face a fine of up to $500, keep them indoors, in a covered pen, or behind a fence at least six feet high. Out in public, they must be muzzled (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).”

The bans put on pit bulls all have one thing in common: they degrade all pit bulls for something that only a small amount of them do. To get a better understanding of what I’m trying to say, think of it this way: they treat the breed like American’s treated Muslims after 9/11. After one group of Muslims crashed the plane into the World Trade Center, Americans have blamed the entire race for that one event, even though I bet most Muslims are really nice people who have no intention of causing any harm. The American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit bull can be a wonderful breed of dog for anyone as long as they are socialized correctly. They are known to be good-natured, amusing, and extremely loyal. They do well in families and are almost always obedient and eager to please their master. However, they are not recommended for most people because most people do not understand how to properly raise and treat a dog. (Learn tips on how to train your dog by visiting Cesar Millan’s website. He is also on the TV show called Dog Whisperer and has wrote several books about raising your dog).

Back when I still had driving lessons, my driving instructor Ashley would always tell me about her pets at home. I have a terrible memory, but I believe she had two dogs and a cat. All I remember is the stories that she told me about her cuddly and super sweet puppy. I asked her what kind of dog she had and I was shocked when she told me her dog was a pit bull. How many of you picture a pit bull when a friend of yours talks about a dog you’ve never seen before? In most cases, these dogs are looking for the same thing every other dog on this planet looks for: someone to love them.PitBullTerrierTiggerFetch1

Media is another reason Pit Bulls are being banned in certain cities. For example, the most recent proposition to ban this breed was because the mayor stated he had seen them “on TV” causing “incidents.” Who’s to say these reporters are right in their dog labeling skills? It’s not like they ask their owners what kind of dog it was. They label the dog as they see it. The media often identifies these animals as Pit Bulls when they really don’t know what kind of dog attacked.

Luckily, so many people out there agree that it’s wrong that one group of dogs are being singled out. There have been a growing number of organizations dedicated to rescuing Pit Bulls from owners that no longer want them or dogs that have been surrendered.pitbaby2

I HATE EVERYTHING about NFL’s Michael Vick. He should be SHUNNED, not praised.

Michael Vick GO TO HELL!

I might be losing readers by saying this, but any fan of Michael Vick is not welcome here. So if you have any respect for this man, get the fuck off of my blog. It’s people like him that help get Pit Bulls banned from these cities.

In July 2007, Vick and three other men were arrested for charges of operating an illegal dogfighting ring, which Vick had nicknamed “Bad Newz Kennels”. It was set up in 2002 shortly after Vick was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. The dogs were kept behind his home in Surry Country, VA. Vick pleaded guilty of funding the organization, operating an interstate dogfighting ring, and participating directly in some of the dogfights himself. He also admitted to help kill six underperforming dogs with two other people. Police took 66 dogs from the home. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison, followed by three years of probation.

Why I hate Michael Vick:

  • He is supposed to be a role model for the youth of America. People look up to him and inspire to be him. When Michael Vick got off with only a few minor charges for such a large crime, it might have given people the wrong idea that they could get away with doing it too.
  • In an interview, Michael Vick said he likes who he is and wouldn’t change his past, even if he could. Therefore, he does not regret hurting all those dogs and ruining their lives.
  • Don’t believe his bullshit. Vick says that he’s sorry and wishes he did something to stop the dogfighting. Don’t be fooled by his lies! He was in the dogfighting business for six years! If he had wanted to stop the cruelty, he could have easily accomplished it.
  • He participated in killing at least a half-dozen dogs. He did this in various ways such as hanging them, suspending from a crossbar with a nylon rope, and drowning them (holding them upside-down while their heads were forced into a bucket of water).
  • He apologized to the NFL, his fans, and his teammates. Not once did he apologize do his victims, the dogs.

I’ve been dying to openly display my hatred for this man and it seems appropriate to talk about it in this blog post. If I could come up with a word stronger than hate, that’s the word I would be using. I feel like a kettle boiling on the stove, steam fuming inside of my body. It’s only a matter of time before it pops the lid off. If you know me, you should know I’m not one to hold grudges. There are exceptions to the rule; Michael Vick is one of the very few exceptions.

I still hate that people call his story “a comeback”. If you want a comeback story, read about the dogs that survived the hell that Michael Vick put them through. THOSE are good stories! Michael Vick should rot in hell for the things he did to those dogs. People need to realize the difference between being a good athlete and being a good person.

How you can help

Pit Bulls?

  • Tell your friends and family that the owners of these dogs are to blame for their attacks, not the dogs themselves.
  • Get a Pit Bull. Show others that there is no reason to ban this breed from cities.
  • If you live in a city where there is a ban on Pit Bulls, protest and say that it’s not right.
  • If you know or see anyone involved in the dogfighting business, report it to the police.
  • Share this blog with others.

Also, check out these websites:

Best Friends Animal Society

Best friends rescued 22 “Vicktory” (Pit Bulls taken from Michael Vick) dogs and found 20 of them new homes!

ASPCA

Pit Bull Rescue Center

Really cute video, proving that not all Pit Bulls are bad dogs.

 

If you own (or owned) a Pit Bull, tell me in a comment below what you think about the breed and/or the experiences you’ve had with your Pit Bull. Even if you’ve never owned a Pit Bull, tell me what you think of these bans certain cities are putting on the dog.

The Happiest Chickens are Free-Range

Wendy's Free-Range Chickens

Many people do not know the difference between free range eggs and cage-free eggs. Let me explain: Cage-free is a term that the egg industry likes to use ONLY to make it SOUND like their layer hens are humanely raised when, in reality, they are treated just about the same as any battery-caged hen. Even though these hens are technically cage-free, it doesn’t mean they get more space to run around and be chickens. They are still cramped together in a small room, their beaks are still cut off at birth, and the males are still slaughtered nearly minutes after hatching. Free-range eggs are a totally different story.

If you go to a store in search of eggs from humanely treated hens, then you are sadly out of luck. Free-range eggs cannot be found in any grocery store (and if you know of one, please let me know in the comments below). The biggest difference between free-range eggs and cage-free eggs is the treatment of the chickens. Free-range chickens (notice, I say chickens because the males are typically not slaughtered at birth) are given space to roam freely, their beaks are not cut off at birth, and they are free to do what chickens are instinctively born to do.

Bantam Hen

Chickens are born with an instinct to:

  • Forage for food – Believe it or not, chickens are omnivores- they eat vegetables as well as bugs. Battery caged hens are denied the privilege to forage for food and most cage-free hens are still kept indoors, which means they can’t feel the dirt on their feet or forage for bugs.
  • Nest – Most hens have a strong urge to lay their eggs in a private place. Sometimes they will even go without food and water for days to search for a secret place to nest. Battery caged hens are denied the access or the space to sit on their eggs. Hens often go crazy without this one simple “privilege” because their instinct to mother their eggs is so intense. Cage-free hens are not provided with the privacy or room to nest either. Even though they do have more space than a battery cage hen, this instinct is still not met.
  • Dustbathe – Dustbathing for chickens is like taking a bath for us. It keeps their feathers clean and healthy and also gets rid of unwanted pests.
  • Perch – All chickens descended from the Red Jungle Fowl. This breed of bird often sleeps high up in the trees to avoid predators; also because perching is a natural instinct. Today’s modern chickens still have that instinct which is why most free-range chickens are provided with perches. When chickens are unable to perch, they often become more aggressive, more prone to develop foot damage, and some even develop osteoporosis. In a battery cage, hens will sometimes stand on top of one another to try and fulfill their urge to perch.
  • Explore – Chickens spend 50% of their time exploring, foraging and scratching. These animals are curious creatures and enjoy doing something to fulfill their boredom.

Mama hen, Eddie, and the baby chicks take a dirtbath together

Last summer, my neighbor Wendy bought some baby chicks. She built her own coop to suit her chickens’ needs and to say the least, these chickens live a good life. They are 100% free-range chickens and they get out of their coop at least once a day (that is, if there is no snow on the ground). Wendy’s coop isn’t all that large but all of her chickens have room to stretch their wings and walk around inside. Most of the time, the chickens are outside roaming around the yard, foraging for small bugs to eat, and taking dirt baths. The family’s dog, Striper, protects the chickens from getting eaten by predators like bears and fisher cats, which are always running around our neighborhood.

Wendy and her family name every chicken that they get and Wendy can tell which chicken is which. Since it’s hard to tell the difference between a female and a male chick, the family gives the chickens a female name. For example, the white and fluffy chicken (in the photo above) was left out to die in the middle of the road when Wendy found him and rescued him. Wendy first named him Edith because she couldn’t tell if he was a hen or a rooster. When she heard him crow, she and the family changed the name to Eddie.

Last week, I was walking home from school when my neighbor, who was outside at the time, called me over to see the baby chicks that had hatched the previous week. The three baby chicks, the mama bird, and Eddie were all taking a dustbath together. I had asked my neighbor before about writing a blog about her chickens, so I decided now would be a perfect time to take photos. I ran home, grabbed my camera and started taking picture’s of Wendy’s chickens. Her chickens are a perfect example of how these animals SHOULD be treated.

Penelope’s Story

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When I went over my neighbor’s house to take photos of her chickens, she pointed out Penelope. This hen has been through a lot more than other chickens have been through and she is lucky to be alive. Over Facebook, I asked Wendy if she could tell me Penelope’s Story. I was surprised by how much effort Wendy put into the story and I decided to copy and paste it straight from there. I’ve only made a few small grammatical changes but otherwise, this is completely in her own words. Enjoy!

It was back in September and I was looking for some more laying hens on Craigslist when I came upon 1 year old laying hens for sale; $3 a piece at a place up in Orange, MA. Actually, it was a fairly nice horse farm right off Route 2. One of those places that gives lessons and boards horses. They even had an indoor riding ring. The horse barn was old looking but very clean and well kept. The horses were mostly outside and they all looked real good.”

“The owner’s daughter I think it was came out to show me the chickens. Behind the nice barn and the indoor riding ring was a shed and there were some bunnies in hutches and a lot of junk and the smell was awful in the front of the shed but at the back of the shed, it look like the metal skeleton of a plant nursery (half round shape if that makes sense). Instead of clear plastic it had black plastic stretched over it but the plastic was really worn out so there were holes everywhere in the plastic where the weather could get in but not enough sun could get through to evaporate the wet ground so it was muddy and smelly. There were about 100 chickens in there mostly hens, some roosters all debeaked so I assumed they were all ex battery cage hens. I don’t know the story about the roosters that were in there; didn’t really make sense. There were also about 4 ducks in there.”

There was a small pile of dead chickens that had been dealt with enough that they were all in the same spot but not removed from the area. Like someone just grabbed them as they died and threw them in the corner. There were 2 chickens that had obviously seen light under the walls and had tried to crawl through and had gotten stuck. They were still alive and brought it to the girl’s attention. (My guess she was in her 20’s) She said ‘Oh I wouldn’t take those they will probably die anyway.’ ”

“There was NO FOOD in the food bowl and I think the only water in the water bowl was what had rained through the ceiling of the enclosure so there was not much water in there to drink. It was gross. It was thick with mud and heavy with the smell of feces and death. There were no nesting boxes so any hen that might have been healthy enough to lay an egg would have to do it wherever. The chickens looked shell-shocked for lack of a better word. I would pick a hen and watch it’s behavior for a few minutes and if it looked okay I would try and catch it.”

“I spent about 15 minutes in this enclosure and made some comments about the conditions these poor things had to deal with and she told me it was her father’s thing. He would pick up these chickens and transport them and he had had this particular batch for a while trying to get rid of them on Craigslist. It was her Dad’s thing. She had someone go get a bale of shavings to spread around probably because I was bitching about the conditions the hens were kept in. I didn’t have much money on me so I could afford to take 2 of the hens. I popped them in the box I brought, tied the lid down, paid the girl and left.”

Penelope

“I contacted MSPCA and reported the place. I named one hen Penelope (Penny) because she’s the copper color of a penny. The other one I named Clarabelle. Penny ate with gusto and started doing well quickly. Clarabelle did not do so well. She didn’t have her sister’s appetite. Clarabelle was very cuddly though and several times a day I would pick her up and pop her into my coat and she loved that. When the weather was getting colder, it was nice and warm in my jacket. I had her almost a week. I had brought her in the house and had her snuggled in my lap and she was napping when about an hour later she stretched out, released the contents of her bowels and died right there in my lap.”

“She probably didn’t have much of a chance. She was really weak but she was a very sweet chicken. On one hand, I feel bad that I couldn’t save her but on the other hand she didn’t die in the mud and get thrown into the pile of muddy anonymous chickens in the corner of that chicken hellhole.”

“Penelope has continued to do well all winter. Taking in an emaciated chicken as the cold weather sets in was probably not the best idea but I added fats into her diet to help her stay warm and not lose weight. She has actually gained weight. She looks fantastic. She is now laying an egg almost every day.”

“Honestly, when I got her, I did not ever expect to see an egg from her. She and her “sister” were in such rough shape. She was extremely shy when she first got here and would hide in the corners of the coop. She did not know how to be a chicken at all. There are certain things a chicken “likes” to do naturally. Perching is one of them. Dust bathing is another joy that helps coat the skin with fine dirt and prevent parasites. Chickens love to dust bathe.”

Penelope walking away

“It is not uncommon to see 8 or 9 chickens flopping around flapping and flicking the dirt all over them then stretching out in the sun. They will even lay there upside down with their feet in the air. IT is pure enjoyment for them. Scratching the soil and pecking at bugs of worms or whatever is also totally natural and something chickens naturally love to do. All my chickens do these behaviors. Penny did none of these behaviors for months. She was a battery cage hen obviously, her beak is clipped. I have never done that to any of my chickens. It is a cruel practice that takes place at about 10 days old. It keeps penned up battery cage chickens from pecking each other.”

“The first time I noticed Penny exhibit a normal chicken behavior was maybe early November? She found a nice pit of dirt and was joyously flopping around flinging dirt all over herself. She was taking a dust bath and I was so happy for her. She really is something special. In January, I walked into the coop and found my Penny tucked into a nesting box. She was laying an egg!!!! She lays the darkest color brown eggs of all my chickens so I know when it’s hers. She lays one at least every other day.”

“I think the fact that her beak has been trimmed makes it difficult for her to pick things up off the ground. All my other chickens look forward to when I toss out some scratch grain on the ground. It has cracked corn and oats and stuff. When I scatter this stuff out for my chickens, Penny comes running over to me now. I scoop a whole cup of it for her and bend down and let her have as much as she wants. Eating it out of a cup is easier for her. Penny’s beak doesn’t work as well at picking things up as all my other chickens so having a nice deep cup of it makes it easier for her. Penny is pretty special. Her speak is very distinct and I know it’s her even when my back is turned. She is one hen who has gone to the very worst of conditions to the best conditions and I really think she is very happy now.”

For people living in the city, I understand free-range eggs are hard to come by. If you have relatives that live in a rural area, ask if they have any small farms living nearby that sell eggs. Then the next time you visit those relatives, just stop by and pay for a two or so dozens. Supporting the small local farms can make a BIG difference! If you have the option to buy from a local farm (one that will allow you to see the chickens’ conditions), then please don’t buy your eggs from a super market! This is one way we can send the message to big corporations that we don’t like the way animals in their facilities are being treated. Hopefully these companies care about what the consumer wants (most of them do, because that’s the only way they can make a profit) and makes changes to fit our needs. Urban areas are tough to find small farms (obviously). Unfortunately, for those living in the city, there aren’t too many places for you to find free-range eggs. But for those who live in a small town, you can easily find friends or neighbors that own chickens who would be willing to share with you.

Conclusion to the Egg Topic:

  • Inform others about the abuse battery caged hens must endure to make sure you have a side of scrambled eggs are made every morning.
  • Play Farm Rescue on Facebook to find out more information I did not discuss.
  • Find a neighbor or friend who has chickens and ask if you can buy from them. Some people will even be willing to give them to you for free!
  • If you don’t know anyone with chickens but you have a yard then buy chickens of your own! I would suggest this to someone with time to spare because chickens (especially the number my neighbor has) are a large responsibility to maintain and take care of. There’s also a lot of money involved with buying feed, keeping the chicken coop suitable for the chickens (which means buying heaters/coolers), building a coop, ect. So I don’t recommend this option unless you are fully willing to take on all of the responsibilities needed to run a coop of your own.
  • Read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s a great book about Factory Farming and Foer spends a good deal of time discussing the treatment of chickens.
  • Don’t believe what you read on labels. Most have low standards on what “humane” is, especially when it comes to chickens and the egg industry.
  • Check out my favorite websites to find out more information.

The way all hens should be able to lay their eggs!

Next Discussion Topic…?

My family informed me that I need to move on from the topic of chickens and onto a different animal issue. The reason I spend so much time on chickens is because they are, in my opinion, one of the most abused animals in the United States. I haven’t even discussed chickens wasted for their flesh (broilers) yet! I’ll get to that one of these days but I think my family is right; I do need to talk about a variety of other animals. Comment below if you have any issues you would like me to discuss in the future.