Puppy Mills

If you purchase a puppy from a pet store there is a good chance the little fellow came from a puppy mill.   If he is a small breed his mother may have lived in a stacked cage, with other unfortunate souls below and above her, and only a wire floor to lay on as she whelped her pups.  Her sole purpose is reproduction so she is bred every time she comes in to season – as often as twice a year beginning at 6 months of age.  When his mother is no longer profitable she may be killed or sent to an auction.

Then there is the trip from the puppy mill to the broker or pet shop.  Perhaps as early as 6 weeks of age your puppy was transported by a tractor trailer containing stacks of wire cages.  There is no climate control so, depending on the time of year, he must endure extreme heat or extreme cold.  Due to the stress of transportation, some puppies die along the way.  This is considered the cost of doing business.  At puppy mills, dogs are a commodity.

A few years ago I temporarily housed a group of young male golden retrievers who were rescued from a puppy mill auction.  Their mothers were bred to produce Christmas puppies.  These were leftovers that did not sell and had grown up past their ball of fluff stage.  They were 4-5 months old and no longer had that impulse-buy cuteness needed for a pet store.  I suspect there were only males auctioned off because the females could be kept for breeding.

When the van arrived I was struck by the terrified eyes looking at me from the back of the crates.  Each dog was wearing an auction tag on a piece of wire around his neck.  They had no names, only numbers.  When the dogs were lifted out of the crates and placed in the dog yard they were motionless.  They stood still with vacant eyes as if everything was just too much to handle.  Within a few minutes they all ran to the furthest corner and cowered together in a tight group.  I knew I was looking at young golden retrievers but they acted like wild animals who had never had human contact.

Over the next few days I showed them their toys, brought them treats and talked to them.  I would sit on the ground at least 10 feet away with my eyes averted and talk softly to acclimate them to a human presence.  But my slightest movements created panic in the group.  They had no interest in the toys and would eat their meals only after I left the area.  It was heartbreaking to witness.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many volunteers, each of these goldens moved into a foster home and was eventually adopted out to a loving family.  For this group there was a happy ending.  But what about all of the others?  Please, when you see that cute puppy in the pet shop, think about what his mother is enduring as she continues to produce more inventory until the day she dies.

For information on the horror of puppy mills and what you can do to help, visit Prisoners of Greed.