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Puppy Mill bill passes in Missouri – great – here is why

Posted on: July 29th, 2012

Potpourri: Puppy Mill bill passes in Missouri – great – here is why:

The November 2010 election win for a bill to try to stop puppy mills in Missouri passed!  I am personally delighted…. here is why!

I’ve saw puppy mills up close for weeks:

Puppies raised like chickens in rural areas and barely surviving. A row of 1-foot square closed boxes where, if you lifted the lids, you were greeted by the faces of affection-starved puppies squinting enthusiastically up at you in the harsh daylight.  A wooden shed with a litter of grey puppies frozen to death and lying like pieces of kindling on the floor.  Filthy adult male and female dogs in small wire cages spending entire lives breeding and inbreeding to keep the puppies flowing.  And who ends up with these dogs?  People like you who often watch their “babies” develop terrible diseases or die within weeks.   This is the price of puppy mills.  I know. I spent months around them.

In 1981 the Humane Society of Missouri and my employer KTVI created a puppy mill investigative team for which I was the reporter.  We set up a fake breeding operation to get close to operators.   Our videographer shot through one-way glass in a van to record often disgusting operations.   We called our series “The Doomed Dogs of Missouri.”

We learned that, at the time, 1) federal oversight was scarce because of too few inspectors, 2) some puppy mill operators had blank American Kennel Club certifications on file ready to be filled in, and 3) most consumers didn’t have a clue that their puppies came from these canine concentration camps.

A quarter century later the mills are still here, not just in deep woods but now moving into the suburbs.

Why do puppy mills exist?  They are money-makers.  Where are the puppies sold?  Pet stores and on the Internet.  Some stores and certainly their customers don’t know where their dogs come from or the conditions in which they were bred because the puppies often pass through brokers.   Back in 1981 we recorded brokers collecting dogs from multiple locations and loading them into large unventilated trucks they drove to pet shops.  A kind of puppy mill laundering.

HSUS Outreach Director Stephanie Shain says the present is nearly as bad as the past.  She says USDA inspectors pay more attention but still have just 100 inspectors to track all animal welfare issues and there are thousands of puppy mills.  Shain says AKC has tried to improve record keeping but unregistered AKC forms still make puppy mill dogs look legit.

There may be humane rural puppy-raising operations, brokers, and pet store operators, but how do you know?  Few of the breeders are licensed or inspected.  Store replacement guarantees hardly offset the pain of a puppy dying before your child’s eyes.

Shain says pet stores are suspect and, to get a good dog, she recommends breeders whose operations you can visit, breed-rescue groups, and shelters.   Stay away from the Internet which is funding mini-mills in cities.

Finally, two items for full disclosure: 1) HSUS gave me an award for my reporting in 1981, and 2) this issue is personal.  You never forget upturned faces of puppies in dark boxes.

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