The picture of a cute puppy in the window of a pet store waiting to be sold to a happy family is an endearing one. That is the picture projected in a 1950’ television production of Patti Page singing her hit record “How much is that doggie in the window?”
Today, Ms. Page sings a different tune. She now sings “Do you see that Doggie in the shelter?” Page claims she changed her mind about pet store puppies when she learned of “pet stores having mass breeding places and thought how terrible that was.”
Ida McCarthy, the Chicago Coordinator for Massachusetts based Companion Animal Protection Society, explains wny when people learn about the puppy business they react as Patti Page did and become repulsed.
McCarthy claims that the puppy mill breeding stock is kept in small enclosures and never exercised. Frequently not only are the cages cramped, they are filthy from urine and dog droppings. She asks “How many of your readers would condone keeping a dog in a cage its entire life and never giving it a chance to run or exercise?”
She claims the US Dept of Agriculture states that the cage or kennel housing a dog at a commercial breeding facility must be at least six inches wider and longer than the dog it houses.
“Worse yet” says Ida, “The the puppy mill female breeders are bred two or three times a year. There isn’t a reputable breeder who would do that. “
The nonstop breeding subjects the mother to a weakened condition and subsequently her puppies may be weaker and more prone to disease. When the female dog can no longer produce healthy litters she is killed and thrown away like a piece of trash.
Pet Stores that sell puppies frequently attempt to create the illusion that their dogs come from small breeders and a happy environment. However, McCarthy claims this is far from the case. According to her one chain of pet stores that sells puppies in the Chicago area has sold up to 8000 puppies in a year. That’s over 21 puppies a day that were sold. That is a large operation selling millions of dollars worth of dogs annually.
It is documented that one of the breeders that sells to this Chicago based chain has 1350 dogs at its mass breeding facility.
Puppies that are purchased from pet stores are usually purebred animals that are registered with registries such as the AKC, American Kennel Association (AKC) or the American Pet Registry Inc. (APRI ).
The AKC is the oldest breed registry for dogs in the US. When the AKC became more demanding on some of its testing and other requirements from breeders, the APRI was founded in the 1990-s by people involved in the puppy retail and puppy retail breeding businesses. The purpose according to APRI critics was to provide a registry that is less expensive than the AKC for large commerical breeders to use..
Frequently, puppy retailers will imply, or buyers will believe that because the dog being sold is registered, the registration implies a standard of health and or quality. Buyers should understand, regardless of the registry, the fact the dog has papers means little as far as the quality, genetics, or health of dog is concerned.
The AKC states in its web site that “As AKC does not breed or sell dogs, it cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry.”
McCarthy suggests that if someone is looking for a purebred dog they find reputable breeders in the area and visit the breeder to see the condition the puppy and the mother and/or father are raised. She also suggests that breed rescue organizations are another source they should consider, and of course animal shelters in the Chicago area have thousands of dogs waiting for homes.
If anyone has any questions about pet stores and puppy mill puppies they should visit the CAPs website and read the investigations and work CAPs has done on the subject. Then, the reader should ask if he or she wants to risk purchasing a puppy that probably originated in a puppy mill, and wants perpetuate the cycle when they purchase a puppy from a pet store.
Meanwhile organizations such as Companion Animal Protection Society will continue to protest pet stores that sell puppies, investigate puppy mills and educate consumers to beware of purchasing puppies from pet stores.
If you purchase a puppy from a pet store or an Internet site and have a complaint, CAPS has a complaint form that the unfortunate consumer can fill out.