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Where does that puppy come from?

The awful truth behind the puppy in the window

This is a photo that was sent to me by a person in rescue. In case you dont recognise the breed, its a maltese terrier.

Below are the letters that came with the photo.

Why I do what I do, why I continue to "spout from my soapbox", and why you should tell EVERY person you know not to buy a puppy from a pet store!

Hey folks, this dog came to us with AKC papers! We don't know how old he is. We just know that he spent his whole life in a Commercial Breeding facility in Lancaster County, fully licensed by the state of PA. We know that this breeder was inspected three times in the last year and a half. No violations. How could a warden walk by this dog three times and not issue a vet check? He is suffering from malnutrition, dehydration, ulcers in both eyes (permanent damage), mange, infections in both ears, and what's left of his teeth will need to be pulled if and when he is strong enough. He had numerous parasites and is being treated for a very contagious organism that's attacking his intestinal tract. The Vet Hospital who is now treating him tell me he is one of the sweetest dogs they have ever met. Can anyone tell me why this is allowed to continue? Look at his spine. It will cost us thousands of dollars but we'll get him well and find him a home. I hope and pray that things will change soon.

Bill Smith
Main Line Animal Rescue

This was posted to my Cairn Rescue list this morning. It's absolutely heartbreaking and I know it'll be especially hard for those of you who have special affection for Maltese. But it's something we need to pass around so ordinary folks understand where we as rescuers are coming from. This is why Col. Potter rescues mill dogs, and especially older mill dogs. This is why we try so hard to make people understand what they're supporting if they purchase from a pet store....either a live dog or cat or food, toys, etc. from a store that sells live dogs and cats.

I'm going to be giving my PA mill kids extra hugs today....lots of extra hugs.

Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network

Why am I putting this disturbing stuff on my website?

Because I get really riled up when discussing doodles, designer dogs or puppy farms. People I talk to think I'm a fanatic and get on my 'high horse' and preach about the evils of pet shops, not desexing animals and mass production of puppies because I have an 'agenda' since I'm a breeder.

I can almost read their thoughts: 

'Oh, you're just upset by pet shops and anyone else producing puppies cause they're your competition. You breeders think you know everything and you make money from selling puppies anyway.'

Well... its not sour grapes. And if you're interested enough to read on you might find some food for thought.

Ask yourself this...

The first question you need to ask yourself is "How can any place that breeds hundreds of puppies a year, owns from 25 to over 200 bitches and a slightly smaller number of stud dogs.... how can they possibly give individual attention to any of their adult dogs, let alone the puppies?"

You can question the low inbreeding coefficient of these dogs and the resulting 'hybrid vigour'. I know I do! Even if they start off with unrelated dogs, eventually, unless they keep buying new breeding stock (which wouldn't make sense economically!) they will be breeding the same lines into eachother. The hybrid vigour that designer dog breeders base their entire marketing strategy on flies out the window.

You could go on and ask yourself what kind of life these dogs have... Living in kennels and/or runs like livestock, bred every season, without love and companionship...?

Yes, we raise livestock like that. But we EAT livestock. Call me sentimental, but dogs aren't livestock.... Cows and sheep are never intended to be companion animals. Companion animals need to be socialised. They need to be handled and loved and raised in a home environment from the day they're born. Not raised in a shed, on wire, in crates, with employees looking in on them on a schedule, hosing down cages and putting down food.

And thats the 'high tech' facilities we hear about. What about the 'others'... and I assure you. They are out there. They're the ones that raise their puppies and keep their breeding stock in cages their entire lives, often without bedding, in damp dirty conditions, without proper protection from extremes of weather.

Think battery hens.

Its no life for a chicken. Let alone a DOG.

Wouldn't you prefer to bring a puppy into your life that's been given a great start to life?

How much is that puppy in the window?

Pet shops buy from puppy farms/mills cause they need to buy cheap and sell at a profit. Here in Australia we prefer to call them Puppy Farms. It sounds so much more palatable. It conjurs up images of puppies romping in fields of green... It makes us feel better about it.

By buying in pet shops who sell live puppies we are supporting those who make a living producing puppies for the market. To them its business. Big business. And like any business they only do what's profitable. Testing costs money so they dont test. Making as many puppies as possible makes money so thats what they do.... Any dogs able to reproduce but not good enough to sell are kept and bred from.

Most of the time these designer mutts they spend $$$ advertising and promoting cost you more than a purebred dog would. With no health testing of parents, no predictability of what the dog will look like when its fully grown, what it will act like, and often no early socialization.

There are two types of 'puppy farm'. There's the major mass production facilities, 'high tech' or dismal. These produce both purebreeds and designer dogs for the puppy market. They have as many dogs in their sheds as some people have sheep.

Then there's the smaller concerns... The ones that try to appear more 'humane' and 'family run'. Bottom line - they are still mass producing puppies and keeping large amounts of dogs in sheds.

Don't be fooled. Its still the same thing. One will make you throw up and give you nightmares for years. The other may be cleaner and they'll present it as a loving environment owned by caring breeders, but..... is that the life you would want for YOUR dog?

Here in Tasmania we have a new, large 'state of the art' breeding facility that churns out labradoodles. I haven't been there so I cant give you personal observations. I only know what I know from reading about them in the paper and seeing their ads. They advertise on television about how wonderful their puppies are. The idiot who narrates the ad even says 'I saw the puppies, I loved them. I bought one'.

Am I the only person who finds this distasteful? Only BUSINESSES advertise on TV. Businesses that make tons of money... And this business is making tons of money by breeding and selling puppies in bulk.

They brag about the amount of stock they have and the puppies they produce. They sell hundreds of puppies a year locally or overseas for big bucks. Never a mention about health issues. Heaps of generalities about their hybrid vigour and huge promises about the 'perfect' pets they produce. To me, the photos speak for themselves...

But they sell cause they employ the best marketing strategy in the world: puppies are cute. 

But I get carried away. As I said... this topic gets me really riled up.

My agenda?

What a huge difference from breeders like myself... who have a few dogs in the house, on our
beds, who are family members. Clean. Spoilt. Happy.

And just for the record... breeders seldom make money. Yes, we sell our puppies for a fair price. But we also have had years of expenses before breeding a litter. We raise our dogs with care, we do health tests as required, we show and title our dogs. None of that is free. Then we find a stud dog, often in another state or even another country. Enter stud fees, plane flights, and more vet bills. We raise our litters in the home, give them the best start we can, feeding them and mom well; suplements, vitamins, special food - more expenses. Microchips, vet checks, worming etc. Finally we sell these pups and 'make a ton of money'.

We wouldn't do it if we didn't make money you say.... Let me assure you that most breeders consider it lucky if they come out ahead on a litter - a bit of money to put aside to do health tests on the next bitch they plan to show and breed, pay for the next stud fee and costs related to getting a bitch mated, perhaps pay for show entries and petrol to title the next dog. Sometimes all you can hope for is to break even on a litter.

Each of our dogs is special to us. Cesarians and vet visits as needed. If we lose a puppy or a litter we are devastated. We might lose a ton of money. Our dogs aren't disposable. We dont have another 50 just like that one in the other pens.

Why do we breed then? Well for lots of reasons. We love our dogs. We love our breed. We love to show and we want another dog to show... its our hobby. We love what we do.

I know I work to support my addiction... oops. I mean hobby.

Either way, its not a business. The bottom line isn't money. Its our love, our passion. Our hobby.

Make up your own mind

At the end of the day its your own decision what breed of dog (or mixed breed) you want to live with and where you buy it. But before you rush out and buy from a pet shop or order from some mass facility online, stop and think about what you might be supporting.

Go to the RSPCA. Look at all the abandoned and unwanted dogs. Rescue one. You'll find purebred dogs, mixed breeds and TONS of designer mutts that didn't live up to the wild promises made by their 'breeders'. Save a life. Don't perpetuate the problem.

I'm a snob when it comes to my dogs... I'm not ashamed to say I am a poodle lover through and through. There is no other breed for me, though I love all dogs. There's no shame in that. If you're like me and want a pedigree and a lovely example of the breed, buy from a breeder. Use your gut. Buy from a person who you trust... after all, a good breeder will be a friend for the life of the dog and often beyond.

I repeat: USE YOUR GUT. We know when something isn't right... dont buy when it 'smells bad'.

All puppies are cute. All puppies deserve to be loved and live their lives in a good home. Even the ones produced in cages in mass production facitlies... Just ask yourself if we should be encouraging this horrible treatment of dogs to continue.

So please think about where that cute puppy has come from and what life its parents are enduring in order for its owners to live a life of comfort.

Links to articles

Say No to Pet Shops

Prisoners for Profit

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