Most puppies sold in stores come from breeding “farms” called “puppy mills,” where mother dogs and “studs” spend lonely lives in small filthy cages, producing litter after litter.
Recently, PETA found dogs at one puppy mill living on hard wire with no bedding, little protection from the searing hot summers or the frigid winters, and little to no veterinary care. Crusted, oozing eyes, raging ear infections, mange that turned skin into a mass of red scabs, abscessed feet from the unforgiving wire floors—all were ignored or inadequately treated. Some dogs injured their feet by catching them in the wire of their cages, and they hobbled painfully around their small space, trying to keep their balance. The collar on one Labrador retriever had not been adjusted as the dog grew and had become embedded in his flesh. Even though the gangrenous skin fell away as the collar was removed, his neck was treated with nothing but a worm-repellant spray.
Timid dogs were terrorized by their more aggressive cagemates, who often prevented them from eating and drinking. Sadly, many of the old mother dogs had gone mad from confinement and loneliness. They circled frantically in their small cages and paced ceaselessly back and forth—their only way of coping with their despair.
These conditions are typical at hundreds of puppy mills across the country. Laws offer little protection and are poorly enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Serious Health Problems
Unhealthy conditions, lack of veterinary care, and careless breeding lead to serious problems. By the time puppy-mill puppies are shipped to pet stores, many suffer from ear infections, bronchial illness, and serious congenital health conditions, such as hip deformities, epilepsy, and vision or hearing problems. People paying hundreds of dollars for puppies often find that they must spend thousands more for veterinary care.
While puppy mills are churning out litters, millions of unwanted dogs are dying in pounds and shelters. If everyone who wanted a companion dog were to adopt from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store, tens of thousands of dogs would be spared and the puppy mills would go out of business—preventing thousands more breeding dogs from enduring lonely, miserable lives.
Where Should I Get a Dog?
If you have the time, resources, and love necessary to care for a dog properly, adopt one from a shelter or pound. If you must have a particular breed, you may be surprised to find that 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebred.