Monday, September 25, 2006

Pet Stores and Puppy Mills: Why the HSUS Is Encouraging People Not To Buy From Them

Quite simply, pet stores = puppy mills = animal cruelty.

Here are a few facts from the article below. I’ve also listed links for more information.

“The Humane Society of the United States is encouraging people not to buy from pet stores.

It says that pet store dogs frequently come from puppy mills, or mass breeding facilities, where dogs are kept in poor condition and bred merely for profit.

The agency also warns that breeders who advertise on the Internet often operate puppy mills, despite insisting that they run reputable, humane kennels.

And when someone buys one of the puppies, they’re likely to find that it has health or behavioral problems, due to inbreeding, neglect, genetic disorders and other factors associated with puppy mills.”

For more information on puppy mills and pet stores and tips on finding and buying dogs, cats, etc. from reputable sources other than pet stores and puppy mills see the following links:

http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/
get_the_facts_on_puppy_mills/index.html

http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_adoption_information/
zbuying_a_puppy/

Stoppuppymills.com

Article:

‘Puppy mills’ group’s pet peeve; Society says most store dogs from mass breeders

By Jenny Maher, Delaware State Newsjk

DOVER — Few things are more irresistible than puppies in pet store windows.

With big, sad eyes, pouty faces and unconditional love, it’s no wonder that so many animal lovers shell out big bucks to provide the caged canines with a caring home.

But the Humane Society of the United States is encouraging people not to buy from pet stores.

It says that pet store dogs frequently come from puppy mills, or mass breeding facilities, where dogs are kept in poor condition and bred merely for profit.

The agency also warns that breeders who advertise on the Internet often operate puppy mills, despite insisting that they run reputable, humane kennels.

Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Humane Society of the United States, has one simple warning for people who are looking to buy a puppy.

“Stay away from situations where you don’t know where the puppy was raised,” she said.

While she admits that not all pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills, she said the majority do.

And when someone buys one of the puppies, they’re likely to find that it has health or behavioral problems, due to inbreeding, neglect, genetic disorders and other factors associated with puppy mills.

Ms. Shain said it’s impossible for people to tell by looking at a puppy in a pet store window or on a Web site where it was born.

“You can ask questions, but you can’t trust those answers,” she said. “I’ve had people who were told that (certain) pet stores don’t deal with puppy mills, but they found out that wasn’t true because their puppy got sick or died.”

Ed Wagner, manager of the Seaford Pet Emporium, said he doesn’t think people should associate all pet stores will puppy mills.

He admitted that the Seaford Pet Emporium used to buy from puppy mills, but said it stopped after a puppy came in with a disease that spread to a lot of other dogs in the store and killed them.

He said the store now buys from local breeders, where he and other employees can visit with the puppies’ parents and make sure they receive proper veterinary care.

Terrie Lawson, manager of CR Pets in Camden, said the store does not buy from puppy mills, but from a company in the Midwest called Lambriar, which touts itself as “the nation’s leading supplier of companion animals” on its Web site.

Ms. Lawson said Lambriar works with private, reputable breeders that provide puppies and parent dogs with quality care.

The Lambriar Web site claims that the company “is very active in state and federal legislation that supports regulations to keep the pet industry safe and comfortable for the animals involved.”

It also says the company in no way supports illegal kennels and that it provides happy and healthy animals to responsible pet retailers.

Ms. Shain, however, did not express much confidence in Lambriar.

She described the company as a “classic middleman” that buys dogs from puppy mills and sells them to pet stores.

Ms. Lawson maintained that Lambriar does not buy from puppy mills.

And although she’s never visited the company or any of its breeders, she said CR Pets has a broker that makes sure the puppies are treated properly.

“We know our puppies are not coming from puppy mills,” she said, noting that the dogs at CR Pets rarely come down with anything more serious than a cold.

Ms. Shain said she does not think any responsible breeder would sell dogs to a pet store, because they want to make sure that the person who buys the puppy knows the breed.

“They don’t just sell to the first person that walks in with a credit card in their pocket,” she said.

She encourages people to get their dogs from shelters, rescue organizations or quality breeders.

Laurie Baker, owner of the Black Tower Kennel in Milton, said there are a few things people should look for to make sure they’re buying from a responsible breeder and not a puppy mill.

She said reputable breeders usually stick to one or two breeds of dogs, while puppy mills have five or more breeds.

Good breeders have the parent dogs on the premises, she said, and they are kept in the house or in large outdoor kennels, not crammed into tiny cages.

They also have up-to-date health certificates and have tested the parent dogs for genetic diseases and share all pertinent health information with buyers, Ms. Baker said.

Responsible breeders also breed their dogs less frequently than puppy mills, because they “breed for quality, not quantity,” she said.

Ms. Shain said puppy mills keep the parent dogs in cages 24 hours a day and provide them with minimal care.

They receive low quality food and their water isn’t fresh, she said, and they get little to no veterinary treatment and are often kept outside in extreme heat and cold.

“The (dogs) are looked at as machines to produce puppies,” Ms. Shain said.

While such actions would be illegal for most pet owners, she said commercial kennels, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tend to get away with inhumane treatment.

The Web site Stoppuppymills.com says the USDA licenses and inspects puppy mills for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, but the mills “successfully navigate around” laws by selling directly to consumers and avoiding licensing requirements or because there are not enough inspectors to crack down on all of them.

Ms. Shain said puppy mills were historically in rural states, but now they’re being found everywhere.

She said the best way to put puppy mills out of business is to stop buying from places that could be dealing with them.

Ms. Shain said people often want to rescue puppies from pet store cages, but she said what they consider a good deed is actually a bad move.

“That $700 you spend just opens up the cage for another puppy mill puppy to come in,” she said. “If people didn’t buy these puppies, then puppy mills wouldn’t exist.”

Visit the Humane Society of the United States at www.hsus.org for tips on finding a reputable breeder.

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