Puppy Mill Action Week
Puppy Mill Action Week begins on the first Monday before Mother’s Day each year. Every time I see another puppy mill on the news or an animal rescue website, it breaks my heart. It is truly both saddening and maddening to see the conditions that many dogs and their puppies must endure before a witness finally cares enough to call the authorities and the animals are finally rescued.
With the overpopulation of unwanted dogs that end up in shelters, on the streets, or euthanized, many dog lovers stand behind the spay-and-neuter creed. While all dog lovers understand that it is necessary to allow some breeds to reproduce in order to preserve a breed and to improve the congenital health of a breed, most cringe when they learn of a profit maximization puppy mill or another careless, accidental litter.
So, what is the difference between a puppy mill, backyard breeder, and ethical breeder?
A puppy mill focuses solely on turning the maximum profit possible for the sale of as many puppies as possible, usually small or pure breeds and sometimes numbering in keeping 100s at any given time. Not all puppy mills look like the horrible stories on the news or Animal Cops. These are actually extreme cases.
An owner of a profitable puppy mill usually understands the importance of providing at least minimal physical care of their dogs. The dogs may be kept in small quarters, but they may still appear to be in good [physical] health. A common misconception is that puppy mills won’t provide registration papers, but this is not always the case.
A large number of puppy mills do provide documentation, some with DNA proof of lineage on their products, I mean puppies. The puppies and their parents are almost never socialized, however, and many will not see the outside of their kennels. This leaves a lot of room to wonder what happens to the breeders when they become too old to provide an income…
The backyard breeder may not keep 100s of dogs on their properties but are still choosing to breed their dogs for a profit. Backyard breeders will generally think of the parent dogs as their pets but the puppies as products to be sold.
The primary difference between backyard breeders and ethical breeders is that backyard breeders aren’t generally concerned with the health of the parent dogs or the puppies. Neither the parents nor the puppies are likely to be up to date on shots and may be covered in fleas or ticks or have skin parasites.
These puppies are often at risk of having congenital diseases, heartworm, or viruses such as Parvo.
Ethical breeders will breed for one reason only and that is to preserve the desirable temperament, health, and physical traits of particular breeds of dog. Only dogs that have pedigrees and sound physical and temperament will be bred.
These breeders ensure that the parents are up to date on shots and under the close care and guidance of a veterinarian. They usually have very well detailed documents on both parents, the entire litter, and every other dog on their property. The puppies will come with a clean bill of sale and health certificate along with any registration papers to transfer ownership.
What do you think makes the difference between an ethical breeder and an unethical breeder?