My Italian Greyhound Moose is the four-legged love of my life. He has a fabulous temperament, is well trained, and at nearly 13 years old is in good health save for a seizure on rare occasions. Having said that, never again would I purchase a puppy from a pet store.
While we have been lucky in terms of Moose’s disposition and health, many puppies bought from pet shops aren’t as fortunate. Sure, the cute puppies in the cages are adorable, but shops don’t want you to know how they acquire them.
You may remember news reports about sick puppies sold to unsuspecting consumers. They bring their new family member home, take them to the vet for their well visit, and are heartbroken to learn their puppy has been diagnosed with an illness or has a hereditary condition. Their new addition will cost them a lot of money over the course of their life, but the heartbreak they will endure when their puppy’s life is cut short due to irresponsible breeding practices is immeasurable.
If you read the tags on the puppy cages in pet stores, they will list the origins of the puppies. You may notice that a majority of them will come from the Midwest. Have you ever wondered why? The Midwest is the puppy mill capital of the United States, with Lancaster, Pennsylvania known for puppy mills on the East Coast.
The parents of your cute new pup live in a puppy mill. Live isn’t the right word, it’s more like they exist. These dogs are held in unsanitary cramped quarters, have little to no veterinary care, and are also deprived human interaction. Filthy wire cages are stacked atop each other, allowing the elimination of the animals to fall onto the dogs below.
The parents are forced to produce repeated litters until they are no longer able. When that happens, they are no use to the miller, and are destroyed. A scant few make it to rescue, but the majority are killed when no longer profitable.
As for the litters of puppies, they are usually taken from the mother too soon, leading to issues for the new owner. There is no health testing or vet care for them as well. They are loaded onto trucks and driven to pet shops. Some animals die during transport.
That is the reality behind the cute puppies you see in the pet stores. What can you do to make a difference in the lives of these animals? First, adopt don’t shop. Shelters and rescues are filled with puppies and dogs waiting for their forever homes. Purebreds can also be found in shelters, and there are many breed rescues. When you adopt your new friend, be sure to patronize pet supply stores that do not sell puppies or kittens. The mills will shutter if the demand for pet store puppies is eliminated.
Chain pet stores as well as independent shops often feature adoption events at their locations in lieu of animals from puppy mills. Some supply chains such as the shop where I purchased Moose, have gone out of business. That is a big win for the dogs and the humans who love them.
Please search this important topic for more information beyond the scope of this blog.