The puppy mill situation in our nation is appalling beyond comprehension. For those of you that are not aware of what a puppy mill is, it is a facility where tens to hundreds of dogs are kept in cages and repeatedly bred to continuously pump out litters of puppies. In many cases, the breeding animals are let out of the cages very infrequently or not at all. Puppy mill dogs are treated as production machinery, often with more neglect than one would treat machinery – it is less expensive replace a dog then it is production machinery, and money is the bottom line for the despicable individuals that run such places. The cages are found to be unsanitary, with wire floors that cut the pads, kept outside at the mercy of the severe extremes of summer heat, winter cold, and biting insects. Vaccines and other preventive care are not given, and the rate of mother/puppy death is very high. It doesn’t matter, with little to no investment in caring for these dogs and puppies, and hundreds more dogs to keep putting puppies out there to replace the ones that regularly die, it is all profit. Profit is the bottom line regardless of the suffering involved in achieving their profit.
Puppy mills are the primary means by which many (if not the majority of) pet stores obtain their puppies that they sell. This explains why pet store puppies are commonly associated with being sick and immune system depressed, with a high incidence of congenital disease from inbreeding. It costs money to bring in unrelated, novel breeding animals to create genetic diversity. Puppy mill owners, regardless of the tragedy for puppies and owners they create, solve this economic dilemma by just continuously inbreeding from the population they have.
Puppy mills are an ever present problem in rural America in general, but I single out Missouri in this article, because in my experience, pet store puppy mill puppies most commonly come from Missouri, whether when I practiced in NY or here in Florida. Missouri is known for this in our industry, considered by many to be the capitol of puppy mills in our country. When people come in with their new pet store puppy pridefully inform me that their puppy was shipped in from out of state, I always ask them, “Let me guess, was he shipped in from Missouri?” The answer eight out of ten times is yes. The remaining two out of ten that come from elsewhere include other offending states that turn a blind eye to the cruelty of puppy mills, including: Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, and Georgia. For a clear picture of what these puppy mills and their “inmates” look like, please visit Prisoners Of Greed.
The citizens of these states that read this article may say that it is unfair of me to blame an entire state’s population for the relatively small minority of their population that engage in and/or condone the cruelty of puppy mills. To that I maintain that I and the rest of the country are completely justified in holding all of you responsible for the actions of these individuals. I blame you for not demanding that state officials regulate and closely monitor to ensure that breeding facilities provide shelter from the elements, clean living conditions, preventive medicine, adequate exercise and social interaction, adequate rest between litters, and a max age where breeding females are retired, spayed and offered for adoption. I blame you for not listening to the pleading of countless Americans for your state to act and band together to lobby your state legislature to stop the cruelty of puppy mills. I blame you for having no passion for compassion and turn a blind eye to atrocities that occur to living, emotional, feeling, social creatures, right in your back yard.
If you wish to help countless puppy mill dogs and puppies and maybe one day put an end to the suffering of these animals, you can start by visiting the aforementioned Prisoners Of Greed, to join and contribute to the coalition to put an end to puppy mills. Do not purchase pet store puppies, as this contributes to, and supports the puppy mill industry. Educate others that when they purchase pet store puppies, there is a strong likelihood that puppy will be inbred and genetically deficient, and it will have come from parents that are confined, neglected, and grossly mistreated. Remember, greed is the bottom line – if there is little demand for pet store puppies and subsequently no money in puppy mill peddling, they will be less numerous. Finally, if you live in Missouri or other states known for puppy mills, band together with like minded people to force your state legislature to make laws to have facilities closely regulat, monitor, regularly inspect, and fine heavily or have facilites closed down when humane requirements are not met.
Roger L, Welton, DVM