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List: Posted: 10/11/11
For most people, a dog or cat is a true part of the family. However, these lovable companions often have a rough start in life, especially if they came from the average U.S. pet store.
Pet Store's Dirty Secrets
The dirty little secret most pet stores hope the consumer does not know is that most pet store puppies in America come from puppy mills. Any animal lover would be horrified to see the conditions the average puppy mill keeps their breeder animals in. Almost all pet stores today work with puppy mills because of the low cost and the high volume of animals that can be produced in a short amount of time.
So what is a puppy mill? Although the name sounds cute, the reality is not. Puppy mills are in essence inhumane puppy factories, which produce unnatural quantities of puppies from female dogs kept in very small cages their entire lives, like battery hens. There are thousands of puppy mills in operation in every state of America.
In almost all cases the mother dogs are kept in small dirty wire cages stacked in cubes up to up 10 cages high and 20 deep, with barely enough room to move and little to no human interaction. These 'breeder' dogs are kept in their cages 24/ 7 with often zero exercise.
These unnatural conditions lead to many diseases, but the horror doesn't end there. Puppy mills are cruel in multiple ways to the dogs that are bred. Most of these dogs churn out so many puppies that they will have very little time in their life when they are not pregnant or nursing. Animals are usually given little to no veterinary care before or after giving birth, simply because expensive vets bills would cut into the mill owner's profits.
When the breeding dogs can no longer be bred due to illness, birthing injuries or old age, they are usually disposed of because they are of no further use to the puppy mill owner. They are put down, dumped on the streets, or given to animal shelters in such a poor state of heath that they usually wind up being euthanized. With nothing other than profit as a redeeming quality in puppy mills, it's difficult for many people to understand why pet stores still work with them.
How to Humanely Buy a Puppy
For the animal loving pet stores, there are many ways to "go humane" with the animals they choose to sell. The owner can easily search for a breeder that does not work in a puppy mill setting so that they don't promote cruelty to animals. The very best pet stores take their animals from their neighborhood pet shelter or offer pet adoption days.
Often the workers at the pet store do not know where their animals come from, so asking won't get you an answer. You will need to do a little digging, but the answer will usually come up that a puppy mill is used to create the wriggling little creatures in the window.
Benefits of Adopting a Puppy or Dog From an Animal Shelter
The U.S. lags far behind other countries in terms of animal welfare; in most European countries including England, it is illegal to sell pet dogs or puppies at the pet store for profit, with most pet owners being encouraged to buy direct from the breeder or visit an animal shelter.
The benefits of getting your new puppy from a dog breeder or shelter include a healthier, less inbred animal, and a much cheaper cost - a pet store pedigree puppy will cost you $200-$800, whereas the same pedigree breed can easily be located at an animal shelter and purchased for the pet shelter's standard fee, which is usually $75, regardless of age or breed. That price usually includes the cost of neutering or spaying your new pet.
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