Editor, Who can say no to puppy kisses? It’s the rare person who does not melt when confronted with a darling puppy full of energy. But it also is the rare person who stops to think about the origin of that puppy.
It would surprise most people to learn that there is a huge commercial kennel industry in the United States that mass produces puppies for pet stores and flea markets.
The numbers truly are staggering. There are hundreds of breeder dogs caged at their facilities, and the conditions often are horrific. There are seriously ill dogs living in filth, trapped in small wire cages, being bred time after time until their little bodies wear out, and they either die or are killed after failing to produce.
Studies by the Centers for Disease Control have shown that approximately 50 percent of puppies in pet stores are incubating disease. This does not include the number of dogs who have genetic conditions that were not yet obvious.
Kennels, brokers and pet stores are fond of saying that the kennels are licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture, implying that this offers some level of quality assurance.
The USDA is tasked with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act to promote a minimum standard of care for the dogs in kennels.
Through its rural-development loan program, the USDA gave at least $3.5 million in loans to one of the largest puppy brokers in the country — a broker with $26 million in sales in 2002. This clearly is a conflict of interest.
The only way to be sure that puppies do not come from commercial kennels with horrific conditions is to see the parents. Don’t believe the pet-store owner or seller at the flea market who says the puppies were raised in a loving home. Buyers need to see the parents and conditions where they live.
Even better than buying a new puppy is rescuing one from a shelter or rescue organization.
Millions of dogs are killed in this country every year. The mass production of puppies is morally and ethically reprehensible when there is a mass slaughter of perfectly wonderful dogs.
Pet stores and puppy brokers at flea markets contribute to this mass slaughter because they cater to the impulse purchase.
To help resist the darling little puppy in the pet store or at the flea market, visualize the puppy’s parents in a cage in the relentless Georgia heat, or the freezing cold in winter, covered with filth and profoundly dejected.
Dogs are our companions and best friends. Please be their friends by not contributing to the mass production of puppies, which leads to the mass slaughter of innocent animals.
— Petra Brooks