Puppy mills abound across the country with facilities housing as many as a thousand dogs with breeding females being forced to give birth to litter after litter of puppies throughout their lifetime. The dogs are usually crammed into wire cages that are often stacked inside dark sheds or barns. Their urine and feces drop into lower cages, where the dogs are forced to stand or lie in the excrement. Many dogs become ill, and receive nothing to alleviate their suffering, because it is cheaper to get a new breeding dog than it is to pay for veterinary care. Many of the dogs have never seen the light of day or felt grass under their feet and they have had little human contact. The conditions that these animals endure are horrific, and pet stores and on-line sources get their dogs from puppy mills, regardless of what they tell you. The story of Buttons is a typical example of a puppy mill dog who was rescued, redeemed, and rehabilitated:
Buttons was a wretched creature, a small mini poodle dumped at an area shelter with six months of matted fur, and he was terrified of everything, including feet and newspapers. He had spent his early weeks in an abominable puppy mill, and was transported to a pet store where he spent four months, up for sale at half price, and then almost two years in a “home” from which he was given up without even a collar to call his own. He was so afraid of his owners, that, when they opened their car door at the shelter, he flew out and hid for a day in the wooded area behind the shelter. He refused to leave the crate in which the shelter put him when they finally caught him.
When he heard his original name, he quivered, rolled over, and peed. He was so thin that his bones showed through, and his frightened eyes peered out of a haggard face. In short, he was a mess, and even the shelter staff doubted that he could be “rehabilitated.” However, the little guy captured me with his eyes…huge, deep, black, watching everything around him intently, and oh so sad and scared. But in there with all the sadness and fear, there seemed to be a spark of hope, almost as if he was thinking, maybe, just maybe this will be different. Why he would trust anyone at this point is beyond me, but he did.
Buttons developed into a feisty, friendly, little fellow with thick black fur, and beautiful black eyes. Only occasionally does the old worried look reappear. He was reliably house-trained within a few days, and developed awesome house manners with everyone. He has become an affectionate little companion who loves his daily walks, and dances on his once pencil legs when he sees a treat coming…A few weeks ago Buttons graduated from obedience class, and has learned the meaning of “kiss” as a greeting, instead of “flip and pee.” The process of redemption and rehabilitation had few rough spots, and he is a better dog than anyone could have ever hoped for.
What can be done to eliminate the existence of these horrible places? First of all, do NOT shop at stores or internet sites that sell dogs. The only one sure way to combat the tragedy of puppy mills is to NOT SUPPORT THEM….no matter how cute the puppy in the pet store is, please don’t buy her. She comes from a puppy mill, regardless of what the salesperson tells you. PET STORE dogs come from puppy mills. You may think you are “rescuing her,” but in reality, you are only freeing up space for another puppy mill product, while supporting an industry based on abuse. Keep informed and educate your friends and neighbors about puppy mills, and monitor legislation that involves this unethical industry. Let your legislators know your concerns, and above all, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP.