Eliminate puppy mills, improve life for pets


Puppy mills and their elimination should be an integral part of all our discussions on pet over-population.

To clarify at the outset, puppy mills are distinct from professional breeding operations where care is taken to keep both mother and puppies safe and well, where hereditary issues are understood, records are kept and success requires production of healthy puppies. People whose pets may have a litter or two of puppies — all of whom are loved and played with and then with a mixture of regret and relief placed in other homes as pets — do not run puppy mills.

Puppy mills are factories in which mother dogs are the machines that keep stamping out the widgets, the puppies. Being dispensable and easily replaceable, those mama dogs receive less care than most factory equipment.

At an alleged puppy mill in Waldron in late April, small cages containing 65 dogs were stacked in a trailer; the containers were full of feces, according to Sebastian County Humane Society Director JoAnn Barton. Most of the dogs had health problems; three died after being sent to special rescues for intensive veterinary treatment. “They were just too weak to make it,” Ms. Barton told the Times Record.

Another problem: “A lot of the mama dogs have really bad teeth from not getting proper nutrition and being bred a number of times. One of the rescuers that took some of them said that they had to be really careful when they cleaned their teeth because their jaws are so brittle they would break.”

Many dogs suffered from worms and other parasites. Some with heart worm are being treated at the Humane Society. Perhaps saddest of all, several of the puppies tested positive for parvo, according to the Humane Society’s Facebook page. Parvo is preventable with vaccinations, but nearly always fatal once contracted. It is highly contagious and the close quarters and filthy cages in puppy mills make dogs there particularly susceptible.

The surviving puppies, Ms. Barton said, never stepped on grass before their rescue, never had toys, had little experience interacting with people. She said socializing these dogs will be a hurdle for the shelter, time-consuming but rewarding.

The elimination of puppy mills should be an integral part of any discussion about spay and neuter and about “no-kill” shelters.

This week, through Saturday, is Puppy Mill Action Week, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS urges those interested in ending the deplorable conditions in puppy mills to sign the pledge to stop puppy mills. Those signing the pledge promise not to buy animals from pet stores or Internet sites and at least to consider pet adoption.

If adoption from a breed-specific rescue or shelter isn’t the answer for you, at least commit yourself to buying only from responsible breeders who will show you where your puppy was born and raised.

We depend on our pets for so much. They should be able to depend on us to see that their breeding is healthy and humane. How else can we look them in the eye?

— Southwest Times Record