A friend of mine told me yesterday that he is getting a Yellow Lab puppy from a woman whose ad he found on Craig’s List. The woman he talked to lives on a farm in a small community and owns both the mother and the father. Apparently her female dog got pregnant (as my friend was told) and ended up having a litter of 12 puppies….6 black pups and 6 yellow pups. My friend decided to get one of the yellow boys. My first thought was…how wonderful, a cute little puppy. Then I started thinking about where exactly this puppy is coming from. Unfortunately, we live in an age where there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there who run “puppy factories”. We’ve all heard about them…..the moms are basically “breeders”. Sometimes they spend their whole lives in kennels never feeling grass under their feet. The puppies are born and taken away from their moms at young ages so they can be sold as soon as possible. None of these dogs is healthy or well-socialized for the matter. They are not loved or cared for, they are not companions or friends. They are simply a living…….objects to be exploited…….vehicles to earn the most money in the shortest amount of time. I get so angry when I think about it, I can hardly see straight. Most people I know do….and yet, the “puppy mill” problem goes on.
My friend did do some investigating after he talked to me about his puppy. He found out that this woman is a very reputable dog owner. She gave him references, invited him to come to the farm to see the puppies and meet the parents and also gave him her vet’s name and number. The vet confirmed that he has known this woman for a while and that she has healthy dogs who are loved and well taken care of. So, this breeder is okay and my friend will go ahead and buy one of the puppies. But, it’s not always so easy to check on a person who is advertising “puppies for sale”. Sometimes, disreputable people will give wrong information or no information at all. Sometimes they will lie and tell you that their female dog got pregnant by accident and now they’re trying to find homes for the babies. Sometimes they won’t let you see where the dogs live but rather want to meet at a shopping center or a mall to get your puppy to you. If you do visit their residence, they might bar you from walking around for fear you’ll find out about their operation. In order to stay in business, “puppy millers” can and will be very crafty. Their objective is to get you to buy their merchandise…..and that is their only objective. What can we do to keep from falling into their trap……to keep from purchasing a “puppy mill” dog? Read on…..
1) We need to acknowledge that puppies are cute and we are drawn to them. We want to hold them, cuddle with them, smell their fur and HAVE THEM! So, before we even look at a puppy, we have to grow a gigantic pair of heavy-duty brakes. We must NEVER, EVER buy a puppy on impulse. NEVER, EVER buy a puppy the first time we see them on-line, in an advertisement or in person. We need to STEP ON THOSE BRAKES UNTIL WE’RE SCREECHED BACK TO OUR SENSES.
2) We need to become investigative journalists when contemplating buying a puppy. Research is out best weapon against being duped into purchasing an unhealthy puppy born to a mother whose paws only touch the bottom of a wire cage……whose lot in life is to have one litter after the next……who will never feel the warmth of a loving human hand nor know the kindness in an owner’s voice. This is all there is for her.
3) We need to be firm about what we want and need to do before considering a puppy purchase from a breeder………(A) “I will come to your residence and meet the mother dog and if possible the father as well.” (B)” I will see where the dogs are living.” (C) “I will see the the paperwork of the mom and dad’s parentage.” (D) “I will see the dogs’ paperwork for their veterinary care.” (E) “I will talk to your veterinarian about you and your history of dog breeding and the health of your dogs.” (F) “I will ask to look in all buildings at your residence, especially if you don’t want me to or tell me there’s nothing to see in them.” (G) “I will ask for references from people who have previously purchased dogs from you.” (H) “I will talk to the local Animal Control Officers to see if they have any complaints against you for animal cruelty or consider your business to be a puppy mill.” (I) “Once I have had all of my questions answered and have made sure you are a legitimate and humane dog breeder, I will be happy to do business with you.
Unfortunately, most people don’t take the time to investigate a breeder or “demand” that the breeder presents documents, references or even the name of the vet they use for their dogs’ medical care. “The puppy in my little girl’s arms is just too darn cute. And this fuzzy ball of fluff has another family interested in him……so if I don’t take him home right now, he’ll belong to someone else tomorrow. Where’s my checkbook?”
Owning a dog is a big responsibility. There are many things to consider: “How do we potty-train this puppy?” “What do we do with the puppy when we go on vacation….when we go to work?” “How do we keep this puppy from chewing up our new furniture?” ” How can we afford his food, his vet care?” “He needs what kind of surgery?!!!” And the list goes on and on. Responsible, loving dog owners accept it all as part of having a wonderful companion in their lives. But it’s important to remember that the responsibility of owning a dog starts before we bring the cute puppy home. It starts before we even see the puppy. It starts the minute we think about bringing a puppy into our lives. It starts with education and research…….and requires good brakes and a heavy foot.