We have all seen and heard about the horrors of puppy mills. Puppies are considered a cash making business and treated as livestock.
There are approximately 3,500 pet stores in this country that sell puppies. They sell nearly 500,000 puppies a year and they can advertise the pups as AKC registered. AKC papers only signify that the puppy comes from 2 pure breed parents. It does not guarantee quality or health.
The majority of these puppies come from puppy mills. A puppy mill is a large, commercial operation that sells large quantities of puppies, often several different pure breeds. The breeding business is usually located on a farm. The majority of puppy mills are located in just seven states, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is known as the "puppy mill capital of the East".
To these commercial breeders, the dogs they breed are considered livestock, no different from cows or pigs. Often, the breeders are farmers who cannot make if financially on their crops so they supplement their income by breeding dogs. The dogs are often kenneled in barns or other out buildings with no heating or cooling. There can be hundreds of dogs and puppies. The females are bred at their first heat and every cycle thereafter, until they no longer produce pups. Then they are killed because they no longer provide any income. These bitches are sometimes as young as 5 years old.
Because the dogs and puppies in a large commercial breeding business are used only as a form of income, the farmers or breeders don't bother with veterinary care. The food they are given has practically no nutritional value, which causes many health problems especially in the pregnant females. One of the more horrible abuses inflicted on dogs and puppies is a procedure known as de-barking. This is done by destroying the vocal cords.
Because of the way these puppy mill pups are born and raised, they almost always have health problems. There is a lot of inbreeding, which leads to genetic health issues. These health issues may not even become evident until the puppy is older, if it lives long enough. Even if a puppy survives the physical health issues, the pup is likely to have behavioral problems from lack of socialization.
There are many groups who are constantly fighting to change legislation to protect these animals, or to eliminate large commercial breeding completely. One of the biggest movements is to educate people to stop buying puppies from pet stores because they represent the major buyer of puppy mill puppies. If you want to get involved, or see how you can help, you can find an organization on the internet, or contact the United States Humane Society or your local SPCA.
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