The Cruelty of Puppy Mills in the United States
Companion animals bring such joy and wonder into our lives. What can be more exciting than sharing your life with a young puppy as it grows; watching it develop its own personality, and experiencing the unconditional love that is given by our furry, four-legged friends? As any devoted pet owner can tell you, proper care and nutrition can help establish a foundation of good health and help ensure a long, happy life for your pet. Unfortunately, many pet buyers are unaware that the adorable, innocent puppy that peered hopefully at them from the store window comes with a hidden catch – these puppies, and their unfortunate health problems, may be coming from a puppy mill.
Even though the definition of puppy mills will change depending on who you ask, the basic principle of a puppy mill is a place where mass dog-breeding takes place with the only concern being profit, not healthcare or comfort. All the animals which are bred in a puppy mill are kept in unbelievable conditions; over-crowding, minimal to no medical treatment, irresponsible breeding practices, and very little socialization with people are just some of the inhumane acts to which these dogs face in a puppy mill (Puppymills).
Who is in charge of preventing these actions? The United States Department of Agriculture (USAD) is responsible for the licensing of kennels and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in the United States. However, with only 96 USAD agents assigned to monitoring the hundreds of thousands of puppies bred in kennels throughout the US, the majority of the efforts devoted to caring for these animals lies on local shelters and animal rescue groups who act on tips of abuse. Most of the laws dealing with animal welfare are set by each state. Many states have little to no supervision so running a mass breeding operation can easily be concealed. The current “puppy mill states” are Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and holding the highest number of mills is Pennsylvania. By paying an amount between five and fifteen dollars, any person can open their own breeding practice, knowing that there are no laws in place that require a government agency to police the conditions of their operation. Its loopholes such as that which allow the irresponsible breeders to take advantage of the existing legal system and stay in business (Puppymills).
Unfortunately, it’s not the people that suffer; it’s the animals themselves that suffer the most. Canines who have been bred in puppy mills experience significantly more health problems, such as epilepsy, heart and kidney disease, diabetes, blood disorders, deafness, eye problems, pneumonia, fleas, ticks, and many more, than those dogs who have been bred in environments which focus more on the overall well-being of the animals rather than on the profits for which these animals have been produced (What is a Puppy Mill?). These doges are frequently kept in confinement inside overcrowded wire cages; “having constraints on movement that significantly interfere with one’s ability to live well” (DeGrazia pg. 57). Not only are they kept in cramped wire cages, which cut their paws, they are not given the chance to exercise in the fresh air. Because the owners of the mills only care about profit, the animals are fed poor quality, inexpensive dog food that does not provide adequate nutrition for the breeding stock nor the puppies which have been bred. Veterinary care is very rare occurrence in puppy mills, since the cost of medicines and check-ups in a large scale breeding operation can often cost thousands of dollars, which would decrease the profitability of the business (Reputable Breeder or Puppy Mill?).
Because the laws regulation animal welfare are so loosely enforced and are rarely publicized, consumers who have not been educated in purchasing an animal from a reputable breeder, what to expect when...