We have all seen horror stories about how cruel animals can be and are treated. We promise that we will never fall victim to such forms of cruelty as a form of punishment or subject our pets to such dire living conditions. On a larger scale, puppy mills are notorious for mistreating animals. Animal organizations fight puppy mills and warn people not to continue funding the industry. But since you can’t blame the animals, is it ever okay to adopt from a mill?
Recently, a large puppy mill operation was raided in Tennessee. About 700 cubs were rescued by the Humane Society and those in good health were sent to animal shelters for adoption. People lined up outside the shelters to offer the pups loving homes. This raid was the largest ever conducted in Tennessee and has enlightened many people about the true conditions of a puppy mill.
So what is the difference between a breeder and a mill? In general, breeders are proud of their animals. They raise the animals with health and temperament in mind, and don’t take them away from the mother too early. They allow the females an adequate period of time between reproduction. The dogs are purebred and live in favorable conditions. If you’ve ever tried to buy a dog directly from a breeder, then you know how difficult it can be. Often times, a breeder will not give an animal to just anyone who wants it. A mill, on the other hand, breeds dogs for money. Living conditions are so bad – multiple animals confined to a small area, little or no grooming, and little food – that the animals often develop health problems early on. Female dogs are often forced to reproduce in each heat cycle, which affects the health of the mother and the litter. Young cubs have wings too early. While the dogs may appear purebred, the paperwork is often faked.
When an animal organization stresses the importance of not funding the industry, you might be wondering who exactly is doing all the funding. If you’ve ever purchased a puppy from a pet store or garden breeder, you may have contributed. In the past, pet retailers were known to buy their puppies from factories. Puppies are cheaper and the factory claims to have a pedigree. Now fewer shops buy from the mills, but sometimes the mill cubs sneak away. Often times, factory staff will disguise themselves as reputable breeders, offering purebred puppies with pedigree information. The stores then buy the puppies (contributing money to the puppy mill) and you, in turn, buy the puppy from the store. Due to sales, the store continues to buy from the “breeder”.
Many people go straight to the store when they want a purebred puppy, believing that the store can prove the pedigree. In reality, factories often falsify information. If you are looking for a purebred puppy, go directly to a breeder. Pay attention to the conditions in the breeder’s premises. There is a big difference between a reputable breeder and a backyard breeder. Backyard breeders have poor living conditions; they are very similar to small-scale mills. A true breeder will show love and care for animals. They can observe how you interact with the puppy and ask you many questions about the puppy’s possible living conditions. If the breeder feels that you are not a good match and you are leaving without a puppy, do not feel bad. Perhaps a different breed of dog would fit your lifestyle better.
If you are not looking for a purebred, check your local animal shelters. There, you can find dogs that were rescued from a mill or similar living conditions. You can also find breed specific shelters that offer purebred puppies. Adopting from an animal shelter means one less dog will be euthanized.
So is it ever okay to get a puppy out of a mill? The answer is no, unless the mill dog ends up in a shelter. Adopting a rescued dog is very different from buying it (directly or indirectly) from a mill. No, it is not the dog’s fault, but your money will only ensure that the mill continues to abuse it. Find breeders in your area and schedule visits. You can also visit your local animal shelter to find a dog that is right for you.