Puppy farms, also called puppy mills, are breeding establishments that are run for commercial reasons, with little regard for the welfare of the dogs. You can read more about it and watch a video on the Pup Aid website here.
Puppies from puppy farms are often weak and sick. You don’t have to search very far on the Internet to find heartbreaking stories of puppies that don’t live long when they go to their new homes because they are so ill. The parents are not cared for properly and the bitches are bred too often. The puppies are often taken away before they are fully weaned.
A reputable breeder will only breed from adults that are physically healthy.
The mental health of an animal that is going to be a part of the family is just as important as the animal’s physical health.
Puppies from puppy farms can have issues caused by lack of socialisation. Puppies need to hear household noises and have human contact at an early age. For more information on this, read my posts “What is socialisation?” and “A trip down memory lane“.
A reputable breeder will only breed from adults of sound temperament. They will also ensure that the puppies get off to a good start by giving them human contact and the socialisation experiences that are appropriate for their age.
The cute reflex
Most people know that humans have some physical reflexes – things that happen without engaging their brain. A couple of examples are the leg jerking when the knee is tapped, and eyes closing if something gets too close.
Humans also have emotional responses to some things and don’t stop to think – advertisers have been using emotional responses for years. Most baby animals are cute and there is something I like to call the “cute reflex”. This video will give you an idea what I mean – you won’t be able to watch it without smiling at least once!
The puppy farmer encourages you to act on the “cute reflex” and buy a puppy, in contrast a responsible breeder will encourage you to think about the adult that the cute ball of fluff will become.
The cute face of puppy farms
Puppy farms don’t want you to visit their premises, as you wouldn’t like what you see.
Fewer pet shops sell puppies now – this is a result of public pressure when it was revealed that many of the puppies came from puppy farms. The puppy farms advertise in many different places and use middlemen to sell their puppies.
They are increasingly using social media. They are very good at using the “cute reflex”. They generally have a nice avatar and share pictures of very cute puppies. The “cute reflex” works so well that some people who know about the horrors of puppy farms are not stopping to think – they are talking with them and sharing the pictures of available puppies to their own followers.
If the person is advertising a constant supply of puppies ready to go to new homes, it is probable that these puppies come from puppy farms. Reputable breeders do not have new puppies always available. They only have the number of dogs that they can give a good quality of life and they do not breed them all the time.
If the person is advertising a wide choice of breeds, the pups probably come from puppy farms. Reputable breeders tend to focus on one or two breeds and have a wealth of knowledge about them.
If the person is willing to get a puppy delivered to you without asking you any questions then they don’t care about the puppy. A reputable breeder will ask you questions before parting with one of their pups. They will also be able to answer any questions you have about caring for the puppy. They can also tell you a lot about the breed – temperament, exercise requirements etc.
“Where’s Mum” is the tagline for a campaign by Pup Aid to ban the sale of puppies and kittens without the mother being present. There is more information on that page to help you decide whether the puppy may have come from a puppy farm.
The organisation Pup Aid can also be found on Twitter – @pupaid
Rescue centres sometimes have puppies. They may have been rescued from bad conditions or they may have been an unexpected litter.
They also have many adult, or adolescent, dogs that need a home. They should be able to tell you about the temperament of the dog and any issues the dog has. Puppies are hard work, a well-adjusted adult will need less training to fit into the family.
Clubs exist for most breeds of dog and these often run a breed specific rescue. The people who run these are usually very experienced with that breed and will be able to advise you on any difficulties you may have.
The links I have given you are about the U.K. and the campaign for change there, but the problem is not limited to the U.K.
Not just puppies
I have been concentrating on puppies, but there are similar establishments producing kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and the smaller pets for sale. They face the same health and socialisation issues.
It is important for more people to be aware that these places exist. The animals kept in them have a miserable life and it is heartbreaking for the people who buy a sick animal.
It worries me when I see people who are known as animal lovers on social media sharing pictures of baby animals for sale that have been put there by businesses that I suspect of being involved in puppy farming. I feel that it makes these businesses appear reputable.
If you’ve read this far, I think you deserve another dose of cuteness to put a smile back on your face!
See you next Wednesday!
A fellow blogger has written a post “When is a rescue not a rescue?” about some puppy farmers setting up their own “rescues” to get dogs adopted. You can find out some of the things you should watch for in a rescue centre.