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What are Puppy Mills?

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What are Puppy Mills?

Pet shops that sell pets for profit are now highly controversial because many of these pets are obtained from puppy mills.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Question: What are Puppy Mills?

Puppy mills are currently very controversial. And pet stores that sell pets for profit – particularly puppies – are increasingly frowned upon, and not just by animal welfare activists.

There is now a huge amount of anti-puppy mills sentiment across the board. Not surprisingly, animal rescue and welfare organizations such as the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, Best Friends Animal Society, Petfinder and PETA, among many others, are leading the cause.

Moreover, many of these organizations, along with regular folks, have plastered social media sites such as Facebook with anti-puppy mills pages. Thanks to the ASPCA, which launched a “No Pet Stores Puppies” awareness campaign in September 2011, Facebook decided in March 2012 to reject all puppy mills ads.

So here is some important information for retailers about the implications of puppy mills, and the current and future trends in regard to pet shops that sell pets for profit.

Answer: Puppy mills are basically large pet factories in which profit is considered far more important than the health and well-being of the pets. Females are bred relentlessly, with virtually no rest periods between heat cycles, and then are quite often done away with when they are no longer able to produce pups.

The puppies many times are not adequately cared for or fed; they lack basic puppy supplies such as toys and treats; and they are usually not exercised; socialized; or groomed. Plus, they tend to be housed in over-crowded, unhealthy and often deplorable conditions.

Not surprisingly, pooches produced in puppy mills are more likely to develop a host of health and behavioral problems. Plus, they are prone to be of poor genetic quality.

It’s also important to note that few if any responsible dog breeders, who are not to be confused with puppy mills operations, will allow their pups to be sold through pet shops. Nor will they ship them via the Internet. Consumers are becoming far more aware of these factors and as a result are increasingly having second thoughts about patronizing pet shops that sell puppies and kittens.

Anti-Puppy Mills Legislation Increases

There has been a growing amount of anti-puppy mills legislation, particularly on the state and municipal levels.

The first significant related legislation was the Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966. The only federal law of its kind in the U.S., this requires that “minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public.”

Then in 2008, Virginia became the first state to pass a law to limit the number of adult dogs that commercial breeders may have in their possession at any given time. Louisiana, Washington State and Oregon passed similar laws soon after.

On the one hand, these laws may lack teeth to a degree.

“The commercial breeding of dogs is regulated on the federal level and on the state level – but only in some states,” said Cori Menkin, Senior Director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign.

“Furthermore, some commercial breeders who sell directly to the public – including those who sell puppies online – fall into a large federal regulatory loophole and often go unchecked.”
However, this is slowly but surely changing, and we can expect the introduction of more anti-puppy mills legislation in the future.

For more information about this, and a list of jurisdictions that ban pet sales in pet shops, please see my article No Pets for Sale.

What Pet Shops Can Do to Stop Puppy Mills

“First and foremost, pet shops can refuse to sell pets; they can partner with shelters instead,” Menkin said. “They can also make an effort to educate their customers about this. They can go on our website and print out flyers to give to their customers.”

Now for the $65,000 question: How can pet shops remain viable without selling pets for profit? Please see my article “Success, without the Sale of Pets.”

For information about what constitutes responsible, humane puppy breeding, please see my article Ethical Puppy Breeders Guide.

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