Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Puppy Mills —the dog lovers` scourge

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding facility. The vast majority of puppies sold in pet stores in Canada come from puppy mills. Puppy mill dogs are not only sold in pet stores, but also through the internet, at flea markets or advertised in local newspapers. They can also be sold directly from the mill although visitors are generally not allowed inside the facilities to see the conditions in which the breeding dogs are kept. There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. alone that produce more than 2 million puppies bred in those mills each year.

What is so wrong with puppy mills?

Puppy mills are dog breeding operations that put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs.

Puppy mills may be large or small. They may be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or unlicensed. In order to sell to a pet store, the breeder must be licensed, though many still sell to pet stores without a proper license.

Puppy mills can house hundreds or thousands of dogs. Smaller does not necessarily mean better. The conditions in small facilities can be just as cruel as larger ones.

Puppy mills are everywhere, though there is a large concentration in the Midwest. The State of Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the United States. Amish and Mennonite communities (particularly in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania) also have large concentrations of puppy mills.

Puppy mills breed all types of dogs—everything from Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, and English Bulldogs to teacup Yorkies.  You can find nearly every breed in puppy mills.

Breeding parents spend their lives in 24-hour confinement to cages. It is common to see wire cages stacked on top of each other. They generally do not have protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather.

Dogs in puppy mills live in dirty, unsanitary conditions.

Dogs living in puppy mills receive little to no veterinary care and puppy mill owners often provide veterinary care without anesthesia or veterinary training.

Mothers are bred every heat cycle and are usually killed when they can no longer produce.

Many puppy mills do not practice humane euthanasia. Dogs are killed in cruel ways, including shooting or drowning.

Puppies are taken from their mothers too young and can develop serious health or behavioral issues due to the conditions in which they are bred and shipped. This leads to expensive veterinary bills, heartbreak, and stress for their owners.

The bottom line is that puppy mills are all about profits. Any money spent on veterinary care, quality food, shelter, or staff to care for the dogs cuts into the profit margin so those services are not always provided when needed.

The standards governing the care of dogs and cats in commercial breeding facilities are set forth in the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the agency responsible for overseeing the commercial dog breeding industry and enforcing the AWA. Any breeder who wishes to sell to a pet store or to consumers over the Internet with five or more breeding females must be licensed with the USDA.

Even if enforced to its fullest extent, the AWA only requires the bare minimum in housing facilities and care. These standards are far below what most would consider humane, or even acceptable. The AWA also leaves significant discretion in the hands of puppy mill owners to decide what constitutes an adequate level of care for the dogs with respect to living environment, cleanliness and sanitation, feeding, veterinary care, housing structures, and comfort.

Where are puppy mill puppies sold?

There are three primary sales outlets for puppies bred in puppy mills: (1) pet stores, and (2) the Internet and (4) newspaper ads.

Nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for puppy mills and are essential for keeping puppy mills in business.

Both licensed and unlicensed mills sell to pet stores (many mills sell to pet stores without the required license and are not held accountable).

Puppies are bred in mills and then shipped all over the country. For example, puppies bred in the Midwest may be shipped on trucks to southern California or Florida.

The shipping conditions are inhumane. They can be forced to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and they are confined in a small space where diseases can be easily transmitted. Many puppies do not survive.

To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When they are physically depleted to the point that they no longer can reproduce, breeding females are often killed. The parents of the puppy in the pet store window are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive—and neither will the many puppies born with overt physical problems.

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. Dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. Breeding dogs at mills might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or crammed inside filthy structures that are rarely cleaned where they never get the chance to feel the sun or breathe fresh air.

Illness and disease are common in dogs from puppy mills. Because puppy mill operators often fail to apply proper husbandry practices that would remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, puppies from puppy mills are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions. These can include:

·        Epilepsy
·        Heart disease
·        Kidney disease
·        Musculoskeletal disorders (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, etc.)
·        Endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism)
·        Blood disorders (anemia, Von Willebrand disease)
·        Deafness
·        Eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, etc.)
·        Respiratory disorders
On top of that, puppies often arrive in pet stores and their new homes with diseases or infirmities, including:
·        Giardia
·        Parvovirus
·        Distemper
·        Upper respiratory infections
·        Kennel cough
·        Pneumonia
·        Mange
·        Fleas
·        Ticks
·        Intestinal parasites
·        Heartworm
·        Chronic diarrhea

It the pet stores receive these puppies with any one of those diseases, it is unlikely that they will know that some of those diseases are in some of the puppies they got from the puppy mill they deal with because they generally don’t retain the services of a vet to examine the dogs before officially receiving the dogs from the puppy mill. Subsequently, they sell the diseased puppies to unsuspecting customers who then have to take the puppy to a vet at their own expense.

My advice to my readers is; don’t buy a puppy from a pet store. If you want a puppy, there are probably puppies in your local Humane Society. Their  puppies are look at by a vet and if treatment is necessary, the puppies will be treated. 

Puppy mills in Canada

While many puppy mills operate from coast to coast in Canada, the vast majority are located in the province of Quebec. That is because that province has poor legislation and enforcement of commercial dog breeding operations. Despite the  recent  improvements  to the Quebec Animal Health Protection Act, compared to all of the other provinces and territories in Canada, Quebec still ranks in the bottom tier when it comes to animal protection laws.                                                       

Commercial breeders with more than 15 animals now require a permit to operate, however regulations still need to be enacted by the provincial government of Quebec before this registration system comes into effect. Unfortunately, smaller commercial breeders of less than 15 animals will not be subject to the permit system, and there is still no limit on the number of animals or breeds that can be confined in a commercial breeding operation in Quebec. A breeder can still keep hundreds of dogs in small cages for their entire lives, with little or no daily exercise, and be legally permitted to operate. Furthermore, even in the worst cases of animal abuse and with repeat offences, there are still no penalties of jail time for offenders under Quebec`s provincial laws.

Agriculture officials say they uncovered one of the biggest puppy mills after finding more than 200 dogs and about a dozen cats during a raid in May 2014 in the Eastern Townships in Quebec.

The officials found the animals on a farm called P'tites Pattes Poilues that is situated on Route 220 in Bonsecour which is between the cities of Granby and Sherbrooke. Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Humane Society International said after examining the animals. “They were deplorable conditions—one of the worst I’ve ever seen, Many of the 220 dogs were pregnant females and about a dozen cats were all living inside a barn. The animals were covered with infections and many had patches of fur missing. The animals were seized and moved to shelters, where veterinary treatment will be provided.

Under Quebec provincial law, anyone found guilty of running an illegal puppy mill could face a fine of up to $12,000.

The term “Back yard Breeder” has become more common these days as people are becoming more educated about the responsible acquisition of animals. The back yard breeder is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation. Back yard breeders usually do not have bad intentions, but the results of back yard breeding are devastating. The majority of homeless or abandoned dogs come from this category in many popular breeds and mixes. Most are sold locally through newspaper ads. Others that can`g be sold are taken to the local dog pound to be destroyed.

Many back yard breeders do not have the knowledge to properly raise a healthy, socialized litter, or to help the new owner with any problems that might arise. Further, they don`t have a vet inoculate the dogs with anti-rabies vaccine.

Sometimes back yard breeders will breed dogs so that their children can experience the miracle of birth mistakenly believing that every dog should have at least one litter. They may think their dog is so cute, he/she would make wonderful puppies, with little or no thought for the homes to which their puppies will go. Other back yard breeders see how much money legitimate breeders charge for pups and figure they could make some “easy money” also.

Back yard breeders are not necessarily bad people but some are ignorant. They often come from middle to upper income families and their dogs can be well loved and kept. However, getting a pup from a back yard breeder is a gamble not worth taking.

The dog`s parents likely have not been screened for health problems

Puppies usually are not sold with contracts and no future support to the buyer

The breeders are not in it for the long haul.

They will be working on new personal objectives in five years when your pet has a problem and you need help.

Although you might pay less for the breed of your choice from a back yard breeder, it’s almost a given that in the long run, you’ll pay a good deal more in vet bills and perhaps emotional bills (if the dog has to be euthanized due to a health or temperament problem), than you would from a reputable breeder.

Accepting adopted foreign dogs to your home

When animal shelters started going overseas to fill their emptying kennels, some people became justifiably worried that the imported strays would bring foreign diseases and even rabies into the USA and elsewhere.  In November 2004, a dog imported from Mexico was the first case of canine rabies in Los Angeles in more than 30 years, In May 2004, a dog from Puerto Rico was taken to a Massachusetts shelter to be adopted but was diagnosed with rabies, the first such case in "decades. In March 2007, a dog brought in from India by plane landed at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and reached its owner in Alaska before it was diagnosed with rabies.

Agencies in Southern California created the Border Puppy Task Force after they saw a surprising number of very young dogs being brought across the border from Mexico. The task force estimated that during a one-year span, 10,000 puppies entered San Diego County. How many of them were diseased?

It is really silly and dangerous to go overseas for stray dogs when there's plenty of strays in your city or town.

There was a pregnant black cat in our neigbourhood and it gave birth to a number of kittens. My oldest daughter who was living with my wife and me at that time, grabbed two of them and brought them to our home. We had the kittens spayed and given the necessary shots. When my daughter bought her own home, she took one of the kittens to her home and we kept the other one in our home. We are so pleased with our cat. He is such a sucky baby—always seeking attention which we are more than happy to give him. When my wife and I go out for shopping or to see a movie or visit friends; when we return home, the cat is always at the top of the stairs waiting for us. At night, he sleeps at the foot of my wife’s bed and during the day, he sleeps on my desk in my study. What a suck he is but we love him just the same. We named him “Happy” since he was purring when we first fed him. When he first came into our lives and we fed him, I am sure he thought we were god. Now we are so attached to him and he knows it so I am sure that he now thinks he is god. 

Having a pet is a joyous experience but you don’t have to look for strays in in your neighbourhood. As I said earlier in this article, your local Humane Society will be more than pleased to sell you a pet and you can be sure that it has been spayed and given its shots. 

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