As we bask in the after- glow of a wonderful Mother’s Day of love and inspiration, it seems important to speak out about the mothers of a different species:  dogs who spend their entire lives caged and neglected in puppy mills…mother dogs who are forced, over and over again, to produce puppies for profit under conditions of unimaginable cruelty.

If we believe that a dog is man’s best friend, how can we allow thousands of abused mother dogs to suffer in puppy mills across the nation, where they are confined in substandard, crowded, dirty conditions, without sufficient veterinary care, food, water, and socialization, with breeding dogs bred as often as possible without rest between litters, in order to increase profits.   Mothers churn out litter after litter of puppies, with the puppies taken away from their mothers too young, and   often stacked in trailers and trucked to pet stores across the country.  Others are sold over the internet.  According to Bob Baker, an investigator with the Anti-Cruelty Department of the ASPCA, “We are seeing a surge in the number of dogs being sold online, and we warn consumers to NEVER buy dogs over the internet.  It is disturbing that people will purchase a dog and have it shipped to them without ever seeing where it came from.  Is it any wonder that these puppies often show evidence of alarming genetic disorders, as well as behavioral and psychological problems? “

Consider these facts:

  • Breeding dogs at puppy mills endure constant breeding cycles and are kept year after year, as long as they are productive breeders, with  almost no regard for the dog’s health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to the puppies.
  • Puppy mill dogs typically receive little or no medical care and live in crowded, squalid conditions, in wire bottom cages, without exercise, socialization or human interaction, in blistering heat and freezing cold.
  • Puppies from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online, and directly to consumers with little or no factual information as to the dog’s health, genetic history or future welfare.
  • Breeding dogs are subjected to dog auctions where mill owners buy and sell dogs for breeding.  Puppy millers dump dogs they no longer want, and other mass dog producers come looking for a good deal.  These dogs are auctioned off like used furniture.
  • Purchasing a puppy for sale at a pet store or online usually supports the horrible puppy mill industry, and buying anything in pet stores that sell puppies support the industry too.

NEVER buy a puppy from an internet site or a pet store.  Be sure to visit the physical facility of an animal shelter or screen a breeder’s facility IN PERSON!  Responsible breeders and rescue groups will be more than happy to offer you a tour. If there is nothing bad to show, there is nothing bad to hide…if you are not welcomed onto the property, you should RUN, not walk, away!

The only way to advance humane and responsible treatment of companion animals is through education and grassroots advocacy.  If you are honestly concerned about their welfare, and want better laws to protect them, GET INVOLVED.  Write your legislators… If you live in Iowa, you know that a bill to regulate breeding facilities got close, but didn’t pass in this year’s legislature.  The dogs will have to wait another year, but you don’t have to wait… GET INVOLVED NOW.   Iowa Friends of Companion Animals works tirelessly to get state oversight of USDA-licensees, and better standards of basic care…larger cage sizes, no wire-bottomed cages, access to the outdoors, and annual vet checks.   I find it incomprehensible that ANYONE can object to what this group is advocating.   If you would like details on Iowa Friends of Companion Animals, and its sister organization, Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, please contact Mary LaHay at  (If you live outside of Iowa contact them anyway.  They could offer you suggestions about organizing an animal advocacy group in your own state).