Puppy Mills are one of the greatest atrocities in the pet world, ranking up there with training dogs to fight and outright abuse. In fact, puppy mills are a form of animal abuse. Every animal welfare group has been working for years to try to put an end to them, yet lawmakers still seem virtually unwilling to do anything to stop these irresponsible breeding mills in most states. It’s up to us to be the responsible parties and avoid buying from a puppy mill in the first place. If no one gives them business, they’ll have no choice but to change their ways or shut down. So how can you avoid buying from puppy mills? Read on to find out.
How to avoid buying a dog from a puppy mill
Know exactly what it is
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? In order to avoid buying from a puppy mill, you need to know what one is first, right? According to the Humane Society, a puppy mill is “an inhumane, commercial dog-breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.” That’s still a bit vague, though, isn’t it? It’s easier to SHOW you what a puppy mill is than try to tell you. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. It’s something you really need to see live to fully understand, so please take a moment to watch this video. It’s long, but if you just watch the first 2 minutes, you’ll get a good idea of what puppy mills look like.
Stay out of pet stores…for the most part
The vast majority of pet stores get their puppies from a puppy mill. They may tell you otherwise, but the Humane Society released several videos documenting lies pet stores tell. One catch phrase to listen for “private breeders in the Midwest.” If you hear that term, get out of Dodge. This almost always means “puppy mill.” If you do opt to use a pet store, please do your research. Ask for the papers for the puppy you’re considering, including breeder information. Get online and look them up. Call the American Kennel Club and the Humane Society to check out the breeder. While there are a few reputable pet stores out there, the majority of them cut corners and buy from mills.
You’ll notice that larger chains like PetSmart don’t even sell dogs. In fact, they won’t even let breeders advertise. They’re dedicated to helping place rescue animals, not padding the wallets of abusive breeders.
While I am a huge advocate of rescuing, I understand that there are times when you really want a specific breed. Perhaps, for example, you’re looking for a hypoallergenic large breed dog for your family. In those cases, you’ll want to go through a reputable local breeder. Why local? Because you can check them out. Ask to see their facility. If possible, choose a breeder that treats their dogs like family. I had a friend who bred Schnacks (Schnauzers and Jack Russel Terriers). She had one pair and bred them every two years I believe. They lived in her home, warm and safe. The puppies had interaction with the family from birth, which helped socialize them.
Even if you go local and see ideal conditions, it’s possible to be duped. Keep a lookout for warning signs that something is amiss. A big barn with locked doors and barking sounds coming from it. No signs of pet life in the family home aside from the “show” area. Even a gut feeling that something is off. Continue your research by asking for references. Talk to local vets as well. Ask their opinion on the breeder. Ask if they’ve seen dogs from the breeder in the past, if they’ve noticed any issues. Going local gives you more opportunities to delve into the background of the breeder.
Rescue a Greyhound!
You can always skip the breeders and pet stores entirely and rescue a dog who needs a home. Often, you can find specific breeds just as easily through rescues as through breeders if you’re willing to adopt an older dog. My boyfriend’s sister adopted Howdy from a Greyhound rescue group. He’s a fantastic dog, so sweet and loving. Greyhounds are usually not mill dogs because they are carefully bred from championship genetic lines. Howdy’s lineage can be traced back several generations.
It’s not that difficult to avoid buying from a puppy mill. You just need to be a bit more diligent in your search for your animal companion. If you’re wondering what the big deal is, I can sum that up in one word: cruelty. Puppy mills are incredibly cruel, and that’s the bottom line.
Do you have any experience with puppy mills? We’d love to hear your thoughts!