Sally was one of the most beautiful Chocolate Labs I have ever seen even though she was showing her age. It was her beautiful, loving personality that outshined even her physical appearance that you would notice when you first saw her. Walking in at the end of a ragged rope leash held by her backyard breeder owner, it was apparent that she knew her life was going to change. She wagged her tail and allowed herself to be willingly walked away by the volunteer. It was obvious to her that there was nowhere to go but up.
Sally was with us a very short time but her impact was felt by all. She was 9 years old and had been bred way past what would have been safely recommended even by those who insist on breeding. She had very large mammary tumors swinging below her belly and her back showed large patches of hair loss due to flea bite dermatitis. Her mouth appeared to have some kind of infection. She was extremely dirty and if one didn’t know better they would think she had been wandering on her own for a long time. The extreme neglect was very apparent and needless. In spite of her ratty condition, she was smiling and looking to the volunteers to see who was going to be worthy of the trust she had to give. She seemed to crave human touch. Fortunately she had landed in the right place. Everyone wanted to take care of her. She got special wet food which she ate happily. Gentle hands lifted her into the tub for a nice warm bath then she was placed in a heated run to dry. She was given a special tempurpedic bed to rest her bones in. An appointment was made to have her evaluated by our Vet.
The day before her appointment with the Vet, Sally stopped eating. We tried everything. Nothing seemed to interest her. The next morning we loaded her into the van for a trip to the vet. All the while our hearts were sinking because with all of our combined experiences, somehow we knew it probably wasn’t good. The Staff led her away for x-rays and a blood draw to determine a prognosis. Hopefully it would be something we could fix. We knew it would be the next day before we would have the results. The Vet gave her medicine for any pain she might be experiencing and then it was time to go home. Once again when we got to the van, Sally knew what to do and leaped up into the crate even though we were prepared to lift her. Looking back now I realize what an effort that was for her. Again, she knew that was what she was expected to do, so she did it.
We returned to the Sanctuary, tried to feed her again, gave her the pain medications and then tucked her in for the night with our fingers crossed. Sally died sometime during the night. We believe she felt how much she was loved in her last few days. We sincerely regret it wasn’t longer.
I truly believe that a moratorium should be put in place to stop all breeding of all dogs in order to allow the numbers to decline to where we are not having to put down millions of dogs just for space. Once we reach manageable numbers, the moratorium could be lifted. In the meantime it should be illegal to own an un-sprayed or un-neutered dog unless you are registered and inspected and do not breed during the moratorium. I also believe that if some one is going to breed dogs, it should be to preserve the breed and done under strict guidelines to include number of times a dog can be bred, age limits, and proof of all testing results. Any dogs that are sold for pets must be altered. This should be heavily supervised in order to be approved as a breeder. The person who turned in Sally was an AKC approved breeder. Where were the AKC when Sally needed protection? Sally wasn’t alone.
Janet LuCore, President and Founder
Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary
Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water, or socialization. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters. Puppy mill puppies, often as young as eight weeks of age, are sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads, and at swap meets and flea markets.
In a puppy mill, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked in columns. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.
Because puppy mills focus on profit, dogs are often bred with little regard for genetic quality. Puppy mill puppies are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions including heart disease, and blood and respiratory disorders. In addition, puppy mill puppies often arrive in pet stores and in their new homes with diseases or infirmities ranging from parasites to pneumonia. Because puppies are removed from their littermates and mothers at a young age, they also often suffer from fear, anxiety, and other behavioral problems.
Because so many of these breeders are operating without oversight, it is impossible to accurately track them or to know how many there truly are. The ASPCA estimates that there could be as many as 10,000 puppy mills in the United States.
There is no legal definition of a “puppy mill,” so don’t be fooled by pet store owners who show you “papers” or licenses to prove that their dogs are from humane sources. The fact is, responsible breeders would never sell a puppy through a pet store because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure their puppies are going to a good home. The ASPCA encourages everyone to make adoption their first option.
Please view the videos linked below to learn more about puppy mills.
Spread the word to others who are not aware of this cruel and inhumane industry.
The Reality of Puppy Mills
The Truth About Puppy Mills and Pet Stores
If every breeder was a RESPONSIBLE breeder, shelters wouldn’t be overflowing. A responsible breeder will demand to have the dog returned to them if you are no longer able to care for your dog. If you decide to go the breeder route, here is a list of things that will help you determine if you are dealing with a responsible breeder or a backyard breeder.
1. The breeder allows the puppies to leave mom and the litter before 8 weeks of age. You are told, “the puppies are weaned so they can leave mom”. Not true. It is absolutely critical that puppies stay with mom and their littermates for at LEAST 8 weeks. Many responsible breeders won’t allow them to leave until at least 10 weeks. Puppies learn vital social skills from their mom and littermates at this key age. Without learning these lessons, puppies can develop social and behavior issues later in life.
2. The breeder doesn’t allow you to see the parents. A responsible breeder should be more than willing to allow you to meet the parents of your future puppy. You can learn key information from observing the parents. What will my puppy look like full grown? What is the possible temperament of my puppy? Will I be able to handle this puppy when he is the size of his parents? While the father of the litter may not be onsite, the breeder should be able to show you pictures, talk about his personality, and tell you his lineage.
3. The breeder doesn’t allow you to visit. It is vital to see where the puppies are being raised. Puppies should be kept together with mom and raised with family members. The breeder does a great deal of socialization before you get to take home your furry baby. Visiting before selecting the breeder and once the puppies are old enough should be highly encouraged. If the puppies are in an area with limited human contact, run. Run fast.
4. The breeder doesn’t ask you questions. For a responsible breeder, these puppies are like their children. They want to make sure they are going to the best home possible. The breeder should ask you about your knowledge of the breed, raising puppies, and what your home life is like. Don’t feel uncomfortable with the vast amount of questions. They are just trying to keep everyone’s best interest in mind. The breeder will most likely give you a packet of information about the breed so you can be sure it is the right breed for you.
5. The breeder breeds several types of dogs. The purpose of a responsible breeder is to better the breed. How are they able to do that if they are focusing on four or five different breeds? Bettering the breed is a very complicated process. This is the breed standard for the Great Pyrenees. As you can see, it is much more complex than just being big and fluffy. When pairing dogs to breed, the breeder should take into account what traits the parents have and how that will affect their offspring.
6. The breeder doesn’t issue a spay/neuter contract. Very few people are qualified to breed. A responsible breeder will issue a limited registration contract and require that you fix your dog by a certain age. The breeder will be extremely picky when allowing someone to purchase a full registration puppy. Most likely, the full registration puppy will only go to another known responsible breeder.
7. The breeder always has puppies available. Most responsible breeders will create a wait list of people who are interested in their puppies and will only breed when they have enough people to adopt the majority of the litter. They want to be sure they have fantastic homes ready for their puppies before they are even born.
8. The breeder doesn’t provide a contract. A contract should state a health guarantee, what the breeder expects from the purchaser, and what the purchaser should expect from the breeder. Every breed has different health tests that NEED to be done before a dog is bred. For example, large breeds will have their hips checked to limit the amount of hip issues in future puppies. Ask for the results of their health tests. The contract should also state that if you are unable to care for your puppy, the puppy must come back to the breeder. A responsible breeder will never allow one of their dogs to end up in a shelter/rescue.
9. The breeder isn’t active in breed specific clubs. Breeders are truly passionate about their breed and are always trying to learn more. A common way to do this is to become active in local, state, or national breed specific clubs. Membership to any of these clubs shows the breeder is willing to continue learning to help the improve the breed.
10. The breeder doesn’t encourage you to stay in contact. Like I have said, these puppies are the breeder’s babies. They have been there for their birth and watched them slowly develop individual personalities. The breeder should be willing to provide lifelong assistance to you to ensure things go smoothly with your new addition. They will also love seeing pictures and hearing stories as your puppy grows. The breeder will want to maintain a great relationship with you.
I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will. First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know. That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into my shelter are purebred dogs. The most common excuses I hear are; "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving to that doesn't allow pets? Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would". How big did you think a Great Dane would get? "We don't have time for her". Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! "She's tearing up our yard". How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she'll get adopted, she's a good dog". Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted. It doesn't matter how 'sweet' or 'well behaved' they are. If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment. Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down". First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right? I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in every day than there are homes. My point to all of this...DON'T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE! Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one person's mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say "I saw this and it made me want to adopt". THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT. ~ Author unknown