I just saw a horrible news story about a local woman being charged for abusing 15 dogs in her home in the Daniel McIntyre area, apparently running a puppy mill out of her house. The dogs had been basically abandoned, many were abused, were injured and all were dehydrated and malnourished. This was in a house, in the city! It was later revealed that there were also some dogs that had passed hidden in the garage.
I don’t know how this managed to happen. How no neighbors noticed, I can’t imagine. You would think someone would have reported this person before it got to this point.
The dogs that survived ended up with animal services, and are being treated and socialized so that they can find new homes with people that will love and care for them they way they deserve. Not all rescue animals can be saved, many suffer irreparable harm during their captivity, and have to be put down. Hopefully none in this case have gone that far.
In the industry, we talk about purpose breeders, backyard breeders and puppy mills.
The first ones are people that love a certain breed of dogs, and will work with that breed, many times for show, other times just for the love of that breed. You can tell when you are dealing with someone committed to this situation, and you will see the parents, uncles/aunts/grandparents of the puppies in the home. They have contracts, guarantees and will vet potential owners. You can tell when someone is serious about animals in their care.
Backyard breeders can have a passion for animals, but generally are breeding to make money. Many focus on producing “designer” dogs, the crosses with cute names. These are quite marketable, but have little paperwork to back them up. And any cross is going to be cute as a puppy. Many of these will be great pets, but many end up with various issues, and can be a burden for years and years. Again, putting in some research to the breeder can result in reducing the chance for a bad result.
Puppy mills are even more horrible than they sound, as witnessed by the recent report. This is really the first time I have heard of an urban puppy mill, most are run in the country, using abandoned buildings for dog shelters. Chicken coops, outhouse shacks, anything that can contain a dog will generally be used. The bitches will be brought into a whelping area when they are with puppies, and then put back out into the elements once the puppies are gone, awaiting the next breeding cycle.
These people will sometimes sell the pups themselves, never allowing customers to see what is going on in the back. Many times, they will have just the pups available for viewing, claiming the mother is “at the vet” or some other excuse. This is usually because the mom is in such terrible shape that there is no way someone would buy her pups if they see her. Or, they will offer delivery, or meet you halfway. This is generally a sign that they don’t want you near their facility.
More often, the pups will be sold by an associate, in the city. Again, the mom/dad are not usually present. If they are, the “breeder” will suggest that this was an accidental breeding, or that they only occasionally breed the mom. In reality, they probably have never seen the mom until recently. You can tell if this is really the dogs home, and if they are its owners by how it reacts to them, and if there are signs of the animal living there and having a good relationship with the “breeder”. If you have any concerns, the best bet is to not take the chance. There are other pups out there.
That said, a larger percentage of our pets are coming though adoptions now. “Adopt, don’t Shop” is the mantra of the pet rescue community, and the work being done by shelters / rescues is amazing and mostly thankless. While finding a small breed dog or a puppy is much harder through adoption, if you can take a larger / older dog, you will be well rewarded if giving a needy dog a home.
Regardless which option you choose, invest the time in research and it will help ensure that you have a long and happy relationship with your furry little friend.