The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

Stop Puppy Mills!

Throughout the United States, many people have household pets that were purchased from a pet store or adopted from animal shelters. A typical desire some Americans looking for a dog have is to bring home a brand new puppy; and they want it to be cute and strike some type of warm chord within the family it will a part of. Generally, people are not looking for an older animal that has been sitting in a shelter for months at a time. But where do so many of those cute little animals come from?

Puppy mills.

A significant amount of puppies that are sold in pet stores come from places called puppy mills. These are puppy farms that over breed animals in horrific conditions for profit. Puppy mills are usually located in Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania is considered the puppy mill capital of the east since that is where most of them are located.

It all started after World War II.  At the time, farmers did not have a good source of income and needed to make money the cheapest way possible.  The farmers did not have enough knowledge about these animals or know how to take care of them properly.  In addition, the farmers did not have enough money to give the animals any medical treatments.

They just made sure they were sold so they can make some profit.  The farmers treated the dogs no different then livestock.

In puppy mills, the animals are forced to live in harsh conditions such as wired cages with no blanket or padding.  These cages are usually stacked on top of each other resulting in urine and fecal matter falling through to the cage below, exposing anmals below to potential disease.

“The biggest problem in puppy mills is malnutrition and lack of parasite control”  said Dr. Diana Cannan, from Dutchess County Animal Hospital.

“These animals are sitting in small crowded facilities on metal mesh flooring with poor quality food” Cannan also says.

When animals are left with nothing to eat, they turn to the feces in their cage.  By ingesting the fecal matter, it can cause many issues such as intestinal parasites. Unfortunately, puppy mill owners don’t give these animals parasite prevention.  Immunizing the animals to prevent illness would be the best counter to this, but improper vaccination tends to be a rampant issue.

“Animals in these facilities are either over vaccinated or under vaccinated” explained Cannan.

Sometimes they are never vaccinated resulting in the spread of infectious diseases that vaccines usually prevent.  Once one puppy contracts a disease, they all do since they are right on top of each other.  Many puppies often die from these diseases before they are shipped to the pet store.

Sometimes, they don’t make it through the moving process.

Canines are packed in cages during the moving process and then often into a big truck; it can take days to ship the puppies to the pet store.  Ambient temperature is also key to the welfare of the animals at this time. Very often, the animals die due to dehydration when it is warm because of a lack of provisions in the cages while being transported. Transversely, hypothermia becomes an issue from being outside too long and unable to keep sufficiently warm.

Not only do the puppies have to potentially face these harsh conditions, so do their mothers.

According to information from the Humane Society, Mother dogs are bred for most of their lifetime until they are no longer able to reproduce.  Puppy mill farmers will continuously breed the same dog over and over again.

Many health issues can arise for the female dog such as pyometras (infected uterus) and mammary tumors.  Once the female dog is no longer able to reproduce, the farmers kill her.  Usually the mother dog is killed by being shot or rocks being thrown at her head.  This can happen once the dog reaches the age of five years old.  They do this because the dog is considered useless once it can’t reproduce anymore.

A Mother dog  in a puppy mill will spend most of her life there.

It is not uncommon for animals living in the conditions of puppy mills to develop behavioral issues.  Most puppies develop these behavioral because they have no human contact.  Normally, puppies get a lot of stimulation through playing with toys and having physical interaction with each other or humans.

Not in puppy mills though. In the farmers eyes, they are only there for profit.  They are never taken out of their cage for socialization.  Moreover, behavioral issues develop and the animal will express anxiety, fear, aggression or any combination of. A family may bring home a puppy and not realize the puppy has health or behavioral issues until they have already purchased the animal.

According to Carol Lea Benjamin that wrote the book  Dog Problems, “If there is no early socialization with a puppy after breeding, there is a good chance the puppy will be shy and aggressive.”  If a puppy makes it home after being in a pet store and a puppy mill, the puppy will most likely have to go through a lot of training since it was never taught from the beginning.  For example, puppies that are at the puppy mills, or pet stores, urinate and defecate in their cages where they sleep and eat.  It will be hard for them to break that habit once they go to a new home.

Congenital issues may arise to some canines in puppy mills and pet stores.  These problems can be caused from bad breeding.  Mating unhealthy animals may cause some issues such as hip dysphasia (abnormal development of the hips), luxating patella’s (displacement of the knee cap), heart defects, epilepsy, and much more.

Puppy mill owners will not do a background check of each animal and look at their genetic history.  As a matter of fact, most of the time they don’t know the history of the animals since they did not keep track. In addition, they will not write down any health issues on the papers that the animals might have because then they are afraid the animal wont get sold.

All of these animals are eventually sold to pet stores, even if they are sick.  Some animals look sick as they are sitting in their cages and some look healthy.

According to Cannan, “due to the overcrowding of animals, it effects their growth and development by sitting on the metal mesh flooring”.  Its not worth anyone’s money to buy a sick animal.  Sometimes, individuals pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for the animal and then pay more money getting them veterinary attention.  There are incidents where people bring home their brand new puppy and then the puppy gets sick and passes away due to the negligence of puppy mills and pet stores Cannan says.

She also says there are safer ways to approach a situation when a family is ready to add a new addition to their family.  The best way to go is to look in animal shelters or look for responsible breeders.  Your not only saving a life but you are saving money at the same time.  Shelters usually require a donation fee and the animals are usually checked by a veterinarian before the animal leaves the shelter.

“Pet stores should only consist of fish and small animals.  Not dogs and cats” said  Cannan.

Cannan says that she has dealt with many cases consisting of sick animals that came from pet stores and/or Puppy Mills.

” It’s a very sad experience to see an innocent animal suffer.”


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About the Contributor
Katherine Wirth
Katherine Wirth, Impact Staff
Katherine is currently a junior at Mercy College, majoring in Media Studies.  Her goal is to become a newsreporter.  This semester, Katherine is doing an internship with the Medical Unit at WABC News. Katherine enjoys working with animals as well.  Previously a vet tech major, Katherine decided to change her major and have the love of writing and animals all in one.  In her newsletter writing class last semester, Katherine wrote a newsletter awaring individuals about Puppy Mills and the history behind it.  Outside of school, Katherine works at a animal hospital as a Vetrinary Assistant for the past eight years. She can be reached at [email protected]

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