Puppy Mills: An Historical Perspective
The idea of puppy mills came from the USDA’s attempt to introduce another source of income to struggling farmers right after World War II. Unfortunately, most farmers had no experience with canine animal husbandry or genetics and tried to save money by using chicken coops and rabbit hutches. Thus was born the puppy mill industry; breed them, wean them and truck them out the door. Again and again and again.
This was no way to breed and raise healthy dogs.
The Birth of That Doggie in the Window
Soon department stores like Sears Roebuck carried puppies in their pet department and the newly-prosperous Americans not only had the money to buy “purebred” dogs but they had the leisure time to enjoy them, too. That was the start of the booming pet industry.
It took another twenty years before someone realized that large dog breeding operations treated dogs so badly and inhumanely that the phrase “puppy mill” automatically became associated with canine hell on earth.
Unfortunately, Americans kept buying dogs at pet stores. And with the dawn of the Internet, they started buying them online. Legislation started with the Animal Welfare Act in the 1960’s. Eventually, with amendments and changes, the Act attempted to regulate commercial breeding facilities but too many loopholes existed with the biggest one looming – Internet sales. In 2001, legislators attempted to pass the first puppy mill bill. Ten years later it still hasn’t passed.
Our Social Contract with our Best Friends
Americans are being called on to recognize that each time they buy a dog from a pet store or off the Internet, they are supporting an industry which dishonors the social contract we have had with our companions for over fifteen thousand years: we asked them to protect, assist, and be loyal to us and we will feed and care for them.
The love is implicit.
There will never be enough money, time, facilities, people or organizations to take care of the puppy mill output. As much as rescues and shelters deserve our support and respect, they won’t mind being put out of business if we are successful in our attempt to make sure that very dog is a wanted and loved dog.
Tell Your Friends: Adopt Don’t Shop
Your most important contribution is to tell your friends and family not to patronize pet stores that carry puppies and to not buy a puppy off the Internet. Getting a dog at a pet store or off the Internet condemns the parents to a life of suffering. Tell them that there are thousands of great dogs just waiting to be adopted.
Your voices are these dogs only hope.