Before you buy that puppy in the window at Petland or Furry Babies or whatever pet store is in your town, let me tell you about Alice.
Alice is a 5-year-old pure bred Shih Tzu. The Rescue Warriors Corp. got her at a breeders auction at the end of September. For 5 years Alice sat in a crappy cage churning out puppies for stores like Petland or Furry Babies or that pet store in your town.
When I got Alice she was skin and bones. Her teeth were so rotted and infected that most of them had to be removed. Her tongue hangs to the outside of her mouth. My vet believes she was hit in the head with a bat or something hard and left her whole jaw off-center and her face partially paralyzed. Her eyes were crusted with infection and she suffers chronic dry eye that was never treated until the day Rescue Warriors took her to the vet. For the rest of her life she will get eye meds to, hopefully, prevent her from going totally blind.
The breeder who had her likely made $400-$500 off each of her puppies. She was probably bred every heat cycle for at least 4 – 4 1/2 years. On average let’s say she had 4 puppies in a litter – her breeder made at least $15,000-$20,000 off her babies and yet never once treated her eyes or got her medical attention for her head trauma. He never spent money getting her teeth cleaned. He pocketed ALL that cash and left her to rot in a rusty cage with no blankets or toys or decent food.
The pet store that sells her puppies sells them for $1000-$2000 each! In the end, Alice’s puppies brought in over $70,000 and yet, poor Alice suffered in silence never seeing the light of day.
When you buy on-line or at a pet store that is what you are supporting: total greed, complete cruelty.
Alice’s medical needs are great, but it is her emotional well-being that is worse. We have had Alice for about 2 1/2 months and while each day she generally makes progress, she is unlike a normal dog. She flees each time someone coughs or sneezes or drops a pen on the floor. For the first few weeks, she hid behind the wash machine, she pancaked between bookshelves. She did everything she could to not exist.
Dogs raised in healthy environments do NOT react to families or homes like Alice does. She didn’t know stairs. She didn’t understand a leash. She hadn’t a clue what to do with a toy.
When you buy a puppy at a pet store or on-line – you are supporting this cruelty. You are saying it is OKAY to treat the parents of those puppies like Alice was treated.
I have spent hundreds of hours simply saying to Alice in my softest of voices, “It is okay.” Those 3 words, again and again to re-assure her that not all humans are mean and neglectful. Those 3 words to remind her she has a new future filled with love and compassion.
I am unsure what it takes to make people understand the connection between the pet store window and the puppy mill cage. But let me say this with 100% certainty: there is a DIRECT connection. You can’t wish it weren’t true or put your head in the sand and ignore it! When you buy a puppy at pet store or on-line, YOU, let me repeat, YOU are contributing to the cruelty. YOU are perpetuating the entire system. YOU are saying that breeding dogs left behind are products and don’t matter. YOU are part of the problem.
Over a million GOOD dogs will be killed this year simply because there isn’t enough shelter space for them. Instead of contributing to the hell of puppy mills, YOU could adopt a dog from a shelter and YOU could SAVE A LIFE.
There are no excuses… there are plenty of purebreds in shelters. In fact, there are rescues for nearly every purebred breed there is. Try looking on petfinder or adoptapet. I guarantee you can find practically any dog you are looking for. There are puppies in shelters and rescues, too… so again, NO EXCUSES.
And there is always the argument, and it is a good one, that mixed breeds are healthier dogs anyway.
My favorite dog to adopt is the senior dog. They rarely need much training and want nothing more than a nice walk and comfy couch to hang out with you on.
Please do not be one of the ignorant people who thinks the only way to get a “good dog” is to buy one from the pet stores who propagate puppy mill cruelty. I have worked in a county shelter where AWESOME dogs could be adopted for a mere $80. Don’t fall for the crap that only dogs with baggage end up in shelters and rescues. People give up their dogs for so many heartbreaking reasons like divorce, moving, bankruptcy, allergies, etc… Most, I repeat, MOST of the dogs in shelters are incredible dogs who could not only be great family dogs, but go on to be therapy dogs and service animals.
In my heart it is far more commendable and rewarding to be the person who saves a life than the one who buys a dog in a pet store and forces breeding dogs like Alice to live a life of neglect forever.
Please as you or a friend or colleague considers a Christmas pup this season, let Alice be your reminder to ADOPT never buy at a pet store or on-line.
If you want to learn more about puppy mills and breeders auctions, consider my book, Bark Until Heard. It is my personal journey into the awful world of breeding, too few people know about.
Thank you for this post; people need to know the truth, and it’s a very ugly and tragic truth. Most puppies in stores, and certainly all on the internet, are from puppy mills, a.k.a., dog hell on Earth. No reputable breeder would sell to either stores or online, not meeting the people buying the puppy. And these stores and internet middlemen will lie like crazy about the source of the puppy. It’s this simple – if you can’t meet the puppy’s parents and see where they are raised, the puppy is from a mill.
As a trainer, I can also tell you that behavior is another reason to avoid puppy mill puppies. They are some of the most problematic puppies I see. They didn’t get the needed socialization with people (ideally starting at a few weeks of age), and probably lacked essential resources. They are undersocialized, fearful, and often resource guard. Please, for your sake, and for the sake of dogs, adopt from a shelter or rescue.