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.
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!
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?
- 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.
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.
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.
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