Digging Up the Truth About Puppy Mills

Who can resist a cute puppy sitting in a storefront window, playing with a toy or sleeping peacefully?  What you cannot see in the window is how many of those cute, purebred puppies come from puppy mills all over the United States, where dogs are forced to live in small cages and rarely come in contact with a compassionate human.

Puppy mills operate for profit with little concern about the health and treatment of the dogs in their care.  The female breeding dogs suffer most, forced to live their lives in small cages and reproduce until they can no longer handle pregnancy or die.  Many times when a female breeding dog is no longer able to reproduce, she is brutally killed or abandoned.   These dogs never have a chance at a happy life or human companionship.

Quite often, the dogs that are produced by puppy mills have health and behavioral problems attributable to their lack of human contact, over-breeding and deficient veterinary care. Without a background check on the original puppy vendor, these problems often take unsuspecting customers by surprise when their cuddly and irresistible pup develops serious problems after it is brought home.

SPCA International strongly encourages people to adopt a dog or cat from their local animal shelter or rescue group, but the sad news is that people unknowingly will continue to purchase dogs from puppy mills. Below are some helpful tips to follow when thinking about purchasing a puppy:

  • Do your research about the pet store or individual selling the puppy. Find out if there have been any complaints filed about sick puppies from the location;
  • Never agree to meet a puppy vendor at a neutral location. Many puppy mills do not want you to see their set up, so they will arrange to meet you at a gas station, super market or other public location;
  • Ask to see the parents and siblings of the puppy. If purchasing a puppy from an individual ask to see the parents and siblings. This way you can see if they all look healthy;
  • Ask to see the puppy’s papers. Find out if the puppy has been shipped from somewhere within the United States, which will most likely indicate the puppy has come from a puppy mill. Most puppy mills can be found in the Midwest.  Missouri and Kansas are two states were many puppy mills operate;
  • Ask to see veterinary documents. Make sure the puppy has been examined by a veterinarian and that it has received at least its first set of puppy shots;
  • Watch the puppy’s behavior. Check that it is active and not lethargic. Make sure the puppy is not coughing, sneezing or has an eye discharge.   Parvovirus, or Parvo, is a common virus that puppy mill animals contract.  It can be fatal if not caught in the early stages.  This tends to affect puppies more than adult dogs because they do not have a strong enough immune system to fight off the deadly virus. Parvo attacks and kills the cells that are found within a puppy’s intestine, making it impossible for the puppy to absorb any liquids and nutrients. In many cases the puppy will appear to be lethargic, have a smelly bloody stool and have a decreased interest in food and water.

Help SPCA International spread the truth regarding puppy mills.  We can help to stop the puppy mill profit stream by encouraging our friends and family to adopt a wonderful dog or cat from their local animal shelter or rescue group.  Millions of animals are euthanized every year in shelters while waiting for their forever home.  You can make all the difference for them!

This SPCA International article is intended to help further your understanding of your animal's needs. We understand your unique bond with your pet and it is our pleasure to help you look after its welfare. Thanks to your continued support, SPCA International is able to provide you and countless others with important news regarding the safety of your pets. Thank you again for your donations – every little bit helps!

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