I've been thinking a lot lately about our pets and how we treat them. We have 2 dogs on our farm. A 8 year old Flanders Bouvier/Rottweiler cross named Moustashe. He was named that because he has one, a characteristic of the Bouvier side of him. Belle is the newest addition to our farm, She is an almost 8 month old Bernese Mountain Dog/ Entlebucher Sennehund cross. If you aren't sure as to what a Entlebucher is... click here for more details. We found her though a family friend who's mother in law breeds Bernese Mountain Dogs. She also has a Entlebucher Female, who had a date with her Bernese Male and VOILA! Puppies! The Breeder, some would call a backyard breeder. I don't consider that so. Why you ask? Well because The Breeder went to high quality breeders for Belle's parents. The dogs are papered and have proof of pedigree. The dogs are healthy, given check ups before a breeding, genetic testing is done to ensure that the puppies will not inherit any genetic issues. Backyard breeders don't do this. They don't spend the time or money on this. Most backyard breeders just breed because they either didn't get the dog fixed or they think it would be a fun thing to do..maybe even make a little money on the side. It's just a Dog right? so it won't matter.
This is SO wrong to me. Breeding is so much more than just putting two dogs together and seeing what happens. A great breeder looks at each potential match like a General looks at a battle plan. The match is scrutinized again and again, attributes of each pair are judged and discussed many times before Anything takes place. Great Breeders breed for health, temperament, quality pedigree then for color and look. This isn't something they leave to chance. The breed of dog they chose is their passion and life's work. They want excellent puppies that will show off all the great things they love about their breed.
This brings me to Puppy Mills.
Here is the Wikipedia on Puppy Mills
The dogs that are used in Puppy Mills are usually of poor quality to begin with. They have genetic abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, heart issues and respiratory conditions such as pneumonia. These are passed on to all the puppies these animals produce. More often than not, Puppy Mills breed there females on every heat Which runs down the mothers and there for the mother ends up unable to produce as many puppies or to properly nurse them. The animals are kept in unsanitary conditions and small cages/kennels For all of their lives.They aren't socialized, aren't loved, are shown any compassion. In some puppy mills the dogs are so mistreated that you might find a few dead animals among the live ones. They are bred with out the thought of genetics and purely for profit.
Most pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills. they also are usually quite aware of the conditions inside puppy mills. It's all about supply and demand. The public sees that cute little puppy in the window of the pet store and on sight buys it, this makes room for a new puppy to be put in the window. The public demands, a puppy mills supplies. The public is usually un aware that the puppy they just bought has a genetic heart defect that will eventually kill it with in a matter of months. The Vet bills for that cute puppy in the pet store window can be expensive and in the end futile. It's a heart breaking cycle.
I'm not saying that everyone should buy pure bred dogs (or cats) and I'm not saying that mixes are bad either. What I'm saying is, most pet stores have their bottom line to think of, not their products.
There are many great dogs waiting at your local SPCA or Shelter for their forever home. They are usually cheaper to adopt than ones from a pet store, they are up to date with all their shots, dewormings and usually come already fixed. Yes those puppies in the pet store are awfully cute, but for every dog bought from a pet store, 3 dogs are put to sleep in shelters, just because of the lack of space.
If we stop buying puppies (or kittens) from pet stores, then the pet store will stop ordering them from Puppy mills. With no business coming in, the puppy mill will have to close it's doors. This will end the mistreatment of puppy mill dogs.
I believe that it's our duty as human beings to do right by our canine companions. They give us something no other animal (including some humans) give us. Unconditional Love and Acceptance. In return all they want is good food, warm shelter and a chance to be happy and live a good life. It's our job to make sure they receive all these things and good health care.
When we got Belle we knew that her health was in our hands. She is currently up to date with all her shots and is scheduled to be spayed next week to ensure that she stays in good health and does not have puppies. We are not interested in adding to the puppy population. She and Moustashe are enough for us.
If you are interested in more information about Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders check out these websites
No Puppy Mills Canada
Best Friends Animal Society
Let's take care of our pets and strive to make sure that no pet is homeless.