The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Don’t Shop; Adopt


It is often difficult to resist the adorable  puppy faces looking up at you in pet store windows, waiting to find a loving owner to take care of them. However, by buying a pet store puppy, you are almost always buying a puppy that was bred in a puppy mill, the most inhumane dog breeding system. In these puppy mills, animal dealers and brokers breed and abuse puppies for the pet trade. There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S., according to the Humane Society.

Puppy mills  in the United States are severely lacking in animal welfare. They are commercial mass dog breeding facilities that sell many of their puppies in pet stores or online. To maximize profits, puppy mills completely disregard the physical and emotional health of their puppies. This treatment of animals is unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped. A puppy purchased from a puppy mill most likely has many health issues due to the lack of veterinary care and proper socialization, incest and many other factors during their time in the puppy mills.

 The Humane Society rescued 170 dogs from a puppy mill in North Dakota, and the veterinary expenses exceeded $144,900 not including the costs of the rescue and deploying law enforcement equipment and personnel, as disclosed by Sergeant Tara Morris of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office in a report .

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspection of Denna Brundage reports, “Overnight last night, two cocker spaniel/ bichon fries puppies (DOB = Dec. 9, 2007) were found dead in the enclosure of the licensee. Overnight lows in the area were in the mid to low 20s”. The USDA canceled the dog dealer’s license in August 2008, according to the Humane Society’s Inspection Report on severe USDA violations.

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Why are people buying from puppy mills when they know that they can help a dog in need by adopting, or if in want of a purebred dog, why don’t they buy from a more reliable dog breeder? Most people argue that buying a puppy from a puppy mill is much cheaper than a quality breeder, and that adopting a dog is too complicated. It is simply an easier way to get a puppy that is just as cute.

While it is true, buying a dog from the average high-quality breeder can range up to thousands of dollars. The amount spent on the dog after the purchase, however, often exceeds the extra amount spent on a bred dog through health care. For example, 74% of dogs purchased from puppy mills have illnesses such as intestinal parasites, respiratory issues, hypoglycemia, seizures, skeletal disorders and a shocking amount more. 15% of puppy mill purchases lead to premature death, according to the Humane Society’s five-year Summary of Puppy Buyer Complaints.

“After taking Tanner to the vet less than 36 hours after the purchase, it was determined that our poor little guy had kennel cough, viral and bacterial pneumonia, a heart murmur, an enlarged heart, and ear mites, among other things”,  an unaware puppy mill buyer wrote to the Humane Society when her puppy died one day after purchase, according to an article from the Humane Society. The broker pretended to be a licensed breeder to sell more puppies and after the event, denied having sold the buyer a puppy at all.

 A puppy store in Maryland called Just Puppies claims in a list of 10 reasons to buy a puppy from a pet store that buying a one from a pet store is the responsible option, and has a page on their website stating 10 reasons for choosing one. Their very first point on the list is: “Pet stores provide healthy puppies. The preeminent study by Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine on the health of puppies from various sources demonstrates, on average, pet store puppies are as healthy as, or healthier than, those from any other source

 But according to an undercover investigation by the Humane Society and ReLove Animals Inc. called, “Investigation: Many Maryland Pet Stores in Violation of Puppy Mill Disclosure Law,” Just Puppies, among others, get their puppies from “Class B” dealers or brokers, contradicting the pet stores’ poorly backed up list. Additionally, the investigators found that most puppies were coming in from Arkansas and Missouri, the two states with the most puppy mills in the U.S.,  according to the ASPCA.

 The study by Cornell University they referenced, was published in 1994, over 20 years ago and some of their references dated back to the 80s. The study is called “source of acquisition as a risk factor for disease and death in pups”, and concludes that puppies purchased from pet stores are not as unhealthy as people think they are. It compared data of puppies from four different sources including breeders and private pet owners and shows that pups from SPCA/pounds have the highest risk of “acquiring a fatally ill pup or one that will be returned within the first two weeks of ownership […] followed by pet stores and breeders”. The results showed that puppies from pet stores had a large amount of dogs with persistent cough, more specifically the “kennel cough” and other severe respiratory illnesses, yet had less fleas and intestinal parasites. The study says in its conclusion that “the high incidence of respiratory tract disease among pups from pet stores was not surprising, because these pups have been stressed by weaning, shipping, and handling and then congregated in the broker’s facility during shipping, and in the pet store, enhancing both the risk of exposure and infection”. The study does not include the psychological traumas and behavioural differences pet store puppies have.

This study does not directly say, as Just Puppies claimed, that pet store puppies are “as healthy as, or healthier than those from any other source”, however it states that in the past, studies suggesting that pet stores are the most unhealthy source to buy puppies from is not backed up by enough solid comparative data. Additionally, the study is severely out-dated, and more modern, reliable studies such as a 2013 AVMA study and an NCBI study on puppy mortality have proven that pet store puppies today do have more physical as well as psychological health issues. There are also several articles by the ASPCA, the Humane Society, Friends of Animals, Paws and many other sources that show how pet store puppies are generally unhealthy.

There are millions of stray dogs in the U.S., and their population keeps growing over time.  According to the ASPCA, nearly 4 million dogs enter shelters nationwide, 1.2 million of which are killed. People however continue to obliviously buy cheap puppies from pet stores, unaware of the trauma they have experienced, and unaware of how high the probability that their puppy is suffering from a fatal illness.  

By Elena Zettelmeyer



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