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Mon, June 24

Powers: Erasing puppy mills is a group effort
Consumers need to help humane societies by avoiding suspect breeders

Puppy mills continue and thrive in many parts of the country. (Humane Society of the United States/Courtesy)

Puppy mills continue and thrive in many parts of the country. (Humane Society of the United States/Courtesy)

There was a time, not that long ago, when pet stores sold adorable puppies. The great majority of these puppies were from puppy mills. And as more puppies were sold, naturally, that raised the demand.

Fortunately, in-store sale of puppies has been greatly reduced, but puppy mills still continue and thrive.

(Many pet stores now host pet adoptions in connection with humane societies and breed specific rescue groups, which is terrific.)

There are certainly some puppy mills hidden in full sight in Arizona and in many small and rural areas around the country. Fortunately, I do not know where to go to get a photo of these horrific situations with moms and puppies in cages, piled on top of each other in filthy and very unhealthy situations. But I know they are out there. Because I am a member of the Humane Society of the U.S., I receive magazines regularly that show these awful photos as rescuers invade puppy mills.

And the puppy mills will continue to be out there as long as people are willing to buy one of these puppies. These pups are found at flea markets, for sale online and even from folks selling cute pups from the side of the road. Puppy mills are breeding farms for many different breeds of dogs. Many of them claim to have AKC (American Kennel Club) registered pups.

Just think of it. The moms and dads at puppy mills are kept in pens all the time. They do not get out to run around and play, nor do they get that very important interaction with people. And once a mama has a litter of pups, they all stay in crowded quarters without people contact and without the ability to play. The ones that are weak or sick are disposed of.

Who knows what these moms get in the way of nutrition when they have a pack of pups to feed. They do not have the proper nutrition to be healthy themselves, so how can they possibly feed healthy puppies.

Veterinary care is limited if at all at these breeding farms. Surely, the masters of the house give them the required vaccinations. But there are lots of unseen diseases that can affect these guys for the rest of their lives.

Our humane societies are full of returned puppy mill dogs who have shown strange behaviors and who are suffering from all sorts of medical issues. Their owners no longer want to take on the responsibility of ever-increasing vet bills. But also, behavior issues continue to pop up. Most loving pet owners are not equipped to handle the extra burdens.

Far too many puppy lovers think that if they rescue the one adorable puppy mill pup, they can give him a wonderful new chance at life. Unfortunately, by taking that one, you encourage those breeders to continue their trade.

When these puppy mill moms are no longer able to produce a bunch of babies on a regular basis, they are generally dropped off at shelters to be adopted.

If you want to save a puppy mill pup, go to the Humane Society or a rescue organization. They not only have puppy mill pups, but pups from moms who have been dumped out of the car or left on a doorstep someplace.

Spaying and neutering is the only way that we can stop the great overpopulation of puppies without homes, those unwanted puppies, and there are vast numbers of them, unfortunately. If you have an intact male or female dog, it is a very serious responsibility to be vigilant.

Basically, all puppies are cute and cuddly. Let’s eliminate the puppy mills. Encourage responsible breeders.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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