General Topics: 

by Jennifer White, Summer Presentation Co-Ordinator, The Kindness Club

Most people are opposed to these terrible places of animal cruelty; however, in some ways many of us are funding puppy mills. Although that may sound strange, if you think about how such places receive their money, that statement is not far from the truth. Puppy mills operate because consumers give them money to do so!

There is no denying that the puppies and kittens found in pet stores are cute, however, we need to ask ourselves where they came from. Simply asking the staff at the store will not get you an adequate answer. The truth is that most pet stores obtain their animals from puppy-kitten mills, or backyard breeders.

A puppy or kitten mill is a type of “breeder” who is not concerned with the health and well being of the animals on their premises. They breed animals solely for profit. Often they house many animals in small cages piled on top of each other with nothing but metal wire for them to stand on. These places are filthy and dangerous. The dogs in a puppy mill are bred over and over again until they die or are killed once they cannot produce any more pups. These animals are not brought to the vet when they become sick, instead they are left to suffer and die. The lives of these living creatures are full of loneliness, fear and pain.

We also need to be aware of the flip side to this scenario. These are often called “clean” puppy mills. These dogs are sometimes kept in larger cages and are regularly cleaned. These are the type of puppy mills that may not be obvious to customers as they appear to be well kept, however, there are still many dogs being caged on the property and the pups are being continuously sold and bred for profit. Medical care, socialization, and love are definitely lacking. These animals again are usually bred until they die or are killed once they cannot produce babies any longer. Dirty or clean puppy mills have no regard for proper breeding practices and sound genetics. They may breed unhealthy related individuals creating a multitude of health and behaviour problems for the future guardian of the puppies. A backyard breeder is essentially a small-scale puppy mill, however, the difference is that these breeders usually have fewer dogs and may keep them as pets. They continue to breed for profit and without regard to genetics or health. There are many of these types of cruel places operating all across Canada.

Puppy mills get money from people who buy animals directly from them or from pet stores. People who buy from them are often not allowed to see the parents. Pet shops buy from them to resell the puppies. Since many pet shops carry animals obtained from puppy mills, when we buy animals from a pet shop we are funding puppy mills. If we stop buying animals from pet shops, the pet shops will no longer be funding puppy mills, and the puppy mills will no longer be profitable and will eventually cease to exist. Even when we buy supplies from a pet store that sells puppies or kittens, we are giving them money to buy more animals from puppy mills. The ideal place to purchase supplies for your pets is a pet supply store….

Although the animals we see in pet stores may appear to be well cared for, remember that if you purchase one you could be in for a lifetime of veterinary bills and heartache. Puppy mill puppies often have many health and behaviour problems. Since they are kept in a cage at the pet store, they are not receiving exposure to humans and often grow up suffering from various behaviour problems. Before your new puppy even arrives home, he already has many factors working against him! It would be heartbreaking to have to end a life early because of severe health or behaviour problems…

What you can do to help stop puppy mills:

  1. Do not buy puppies or kittens from a pet shop.
  2. Do not buy any pet supplies from a pet store that sells puppies and kittens.
  3. If a breeder you visit appears to be operating a puppy mill, report them to the SPCA.
  4. Beware of puppy millers advertising many breeds in the local newspaper classifieds.
  5. Adopt from the SPCA – there are many homeless animals in need of your love.
  6. If you want a purebred animal, research the breed and visit the parents and the premises where they are located. A good breeder is concerned for their animals and will often ask you more questions than you ask them. Good breeders breed only occasionally.
  7. Contact your local and federal government. Push for legislation…so that animals will have better protection from cruelty.
  8. Have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent pet overpopulation.
  9. Be kind to animals.

Reprinted with permission from Your Kindness Club Newsletter, Summer 2005, Vol. 33 No. 4, Fredericton NB Canada

see all For the Love of Life issues
see all Publications