2017-02-18 / Community Life

Puppy mills back in shadows

Animal rescuers, breeders, buyers and other animal advocates for years had a resource to check out dog breeders.

Until recently, it was located on the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website. The site carried a resource that listed whether breeders are licensed, have had infractions, and whether they produce good, healthy puppies.

But USDA posted a message earlier this month explaining that the section was taken down because the department is attempting to balance the need for transparency with individual privacy rights.

My first question is, as a business interacting with the public for profit, do you have individual privacy rights?

In essence, USDA officials are weighing whether a puppy buyer has the right to know if a breeder is producing poor quality or sick puppies.

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial breeding facilities. Typically breeding dogs are housed in very small, overcrowded enclosures and unsanitary conditions. Essential needs such as nutritious food, adequate amounts of clean water and veterinary care are not provided.

Breeding dogs often spend their entire lives in stacked cages with wire bottoms. Breeding stock are bred as often as physically possible with the goal of increased profits, without regard for the health of the animal.

Profits are the only thing that matter to puppy mill owners. When a dog becomes too old or sick to produce puppies, it is either killed, given to a rescue center or simply left to suffer and die in a heap of trash.

Puppy mill products (often seen in pet stores) come from dubious lineage and may or may not actually be purebreds, though that’s usually how they are sold. Or they are sold as a “designer breed.”

Designer breeds are your popular cross breeds: Labradoodle, Cockapoo, Golden Doodle, etc.

Mill puppies often suffer from numerous health-related issues, a result of overcrowding, malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, no veterinary care and poor breeding. They tend to be poorly socialized (if at all) and are often removed from their mother’s care too early in life.

Animal protection agencies have for years been working to shut down puppy mills. This recent development takes away one of the weapons in the battle to improve the lives of breeding dogs everywhere.

If you are looking for a puppy, avoid those in pet stores. While you may look at it as though you are rescuing the puppy, every dog they sell just gives the mill one more reason to continue breeding.

Consider adoption at your local SPCA, Humane Society or another rescue group such as Teacher’s Pet Rescue in Coudersport.

If you want to purchase a purebred, find a reputable breeder, preferably one who raises their puppies underfoot (in the home), and get a healthy, socialized puppy.

Humane Society of the United States is threatening legal action over the USDA decision. You can help by contacting your U.S. senators and representative.

Until next time, take care of those you love . . . even those with fur, feathers, fins or scales.

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