A large number of unsuspecting newbie dog owners end up with puppies that are born through puppy mill breeding.
Having a pet dog is a source of joy for many, plus they can do more than just lying on the couch.
The friendship between dogs and humans started thousands of years ago, and they have remained our most preferred pets up to date. Most people who desire to get a pet dog may not be able to come with ideas on the best place to get a canine buddy. This means that a majority of the time new dog owners usually go with the first idea that springs to mind, can you guess what that is? Sourcing from a local pet shop. It should also be noted that Other common options are buying from a breeder, or adopting from a pet rescue center or shelter.
Most of these naïve aspiring pet owners end up purchasing the adorable puppies in pet stores without knowing where they came from. The pest store owners will most probably advertise their stores using phrases like ‘we only buy our puppies from USDA licensed dealers’, and that will be enough to convince people that they are sourcing their puppies from the right store.
The truth is that buying a puppy from a USDA licensed breeder does not mean that the puppy lived in the conditions that you believe a dog should live before it got into the store. Most of the breeders where the stores get these puppies are better described as puppy mills since they focus more on profits than the welfare of the animals. There are thousands of puppy mills across the country, plus the pet stores may also source from other countries.
What is the definition of a puppy mill
If you are wondering what is puppy mill breeding, well consider that The Humane Society of The United States defines a puppy mill as an inhumane, commercial dog breeding facility where the health of the dogs is disregarded to maintain low overhead and maximize profits.
Most of these dogs lack adequate veterinary care and social care, meaning they are unhealthy and difficult to socialize with. The poor health and lack of socialization capabilities are the reason why most of these puppies end up abandoned a short time after finding a new home. Most people who buy these pets end up noticing that they lack the qualities they wanted in a pet— and animal shelters and rescue groups end up getting flooded with dogs that need a new home.
What does a puppy mill mean for a dog born into this world of maximum profit and minimum regard for a dog’s life and welfare? The video below shows the cruelty that dogs experience in puppy mills all over the US.
The small cages have tens of dogs without enough space and proper sanitation. Most of these dogs are malnutritioned, and the sick are unattended. The living conditions exposed in the video are nothing close to what you would wish for any animal.
What laws regulate puppy mills and puppy mills breeding?
The Animal Welfare Act of 1996(AWA)is the legislation outlining the minimum standards of care for any animal that is bred to resell. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the authority responsible for the enforcement of the AWA throughout the USA. All breeders with more than three breeding females should have a breeding license from USDA and should be open for regular inspections by the authority if they sell their dogs to pet stores and online platforms where customers can’t see the animal before purchase.
The availability of the Animal welfare act may not have a considerable impact on the welfare of animals in puppy mills because the law also permits living conditions that no dog owner would wish for their pet. Some of the inhumane conditions allowed by AWA include keeping breeding dogs confined in a small wire cage, with no human socialization, and without exercise.
Most of the breeders also fail to comply with the necessary regulations as they try to minimize breeding costs and maximize profits for their business. It is common to find unfavorable conditions such as dilapidated housing and violation of animal rights like lack of proper treatment for sick dogs and lack of adequate food and water in the puppy mills. Breeders violate the laws with impunity because they are aware that the penalties for failing to meet the AWA standards are weak. License revocations are rare, and the fines are not high enough to act as a deterrent.
The Enforcement Problem
The Humane Society of The United States research estimates that there are more than 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, and the USDA regulates only less than 3000. Furthermore, USDA is also understaffed when it comes to puppy mill inspectors. The lack of enough inspectors means that the regulated puppy mills also don’t get visits as frequently as they should.
Most of the puppy mills also go unnoticed because AWA only suggests the licensing and inspection of commercial breeders who resale the puppies to pet stores or those who sell over the internet. USDA does no control breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public, but they also sell as many puppies as their counterparts who sell over the internet or on wholesale terms.
USDA inspector’s leniency towards commercial breeders
An audit on the authorities responsible for enforcing the animal welfare act found out that inspectors did not take the relevant actions against breeders who violated the AWA, including those who had repeated violations. The audit also states that USDA did not document the abuses and did not report the repeated violations, leading to the lack of more frequent inspections and promoting continued neglect for animals.
According to the audit, USDA wrongfully reported the direct violations of animal rights such as significant tick infestation on dogs and huge accumulations of waste as indirect violations. Another wrongdoing by USDA exposed by the audit was the fact that they misused their guidelines to lower violation penalties, miscounted violations, and to misreport the gravity of offenses.
Continued disregard for animal rights in transportation and sale
The young puppies that attract buyer’s attention have an opportunity to get out of the unsanitary conditions, but they face even worse conditions when on transit from the puppy mills to the pet stores. It is not a wonder to find puppies staffed in crates with barely enough space to turn their body throughout the journey. The conditions are worse when smugglers bring in puppies from other countries as they have to use all possible means to conceal the animals in their luggage.
Inhumane conditions for the mother dogs
The mother dogs that give birth to the puppies in the puppy mills live in cages for years without personal interaction. The breeders see them as money-making machines, meaning they no longer see value in them when they cannot breed. Most of these mother and mother dogs end up abandoned killed once their productive years are over. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are more than 194000 are kept solely for breeding in licensed facilities all over the US.
What is the role of different states and Local authorities in the fight against animal cruelty?
In addition to the AWA, various states in the US have their welfare laws for breeders, brokers, and pet stores operating in the states. The role of inspecting and enforcing the laws in the states are also under these state’s departments of agriculture. Despite all these efforts, the states also face the same challenges as the USDA because they are also overburdened. The states also exhibit leniency when dealing with issues about the set laws violation by the breeders.
The local authorities are, however, winning the fight against puppy mills by passing laws that are mainly in the form of retail pet sale ordinances. The fact that the local laws are prohibiting pet stores from selling dogs from the puppy mills and promoting the sale of pets sourced from rescue organizations and shelters will go a long way in protecting dogs from the inhumane conditions in the puppy mills.
What can one do to contribute to the fight against animal cruelty?
Research by the Washington University school of law has shown that very few animal breeders consider the welfare of the animals under their care, but all this is concealed from the public buy the pets from pet stores. Animal welfare groups can conduct a puppy mill rescue, but that may not be enough without the support of the consumers.
The only way you can help is by avoiding purchasing pets over the internet and from a pet store. You can look for other pet source alternatives like animal shelters and puppy mill rescue and adoption organizations. The lack of a market for animal store pets will make the puppy mill business unattractive, and the suffering of the dogs in these inhumane environments will end.
If you want to purchase a purebred, you should visit a local breeder before doing the transaction. Visiting the breeder is the only way you can assess how they treat their mother dogs and puppies. Some of the things to observe include checking whether the puppies have clean beddings and whether they are allowed to roam freely during the day. You can also examine whether they have any signs of malnutrition and disease. Always remember that fact that a puppy has papers from a kennel club does not mean that it was bred responsibly.