All puppies have the potential to be wonderful, loving companions. However, dog lovers today must take special care in choosing their puppy if they want to raise a healthy animal and do what is best for the species overall. According to VetStreet.com, buying a puppy at a pet store or from an online retailer, where you cannot see what conditions the pup was born in, is almost always a bad idea.
Veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly writes for VetStreet.com that many pet stores claim that their pooches come from "breeders." This is usually because they typically come from USDA-certified commercial breeders, also known as "puppy mills." The U.S. Department of Agriculture only rarely enforces hygiene standards and living conditions at such facilities, and most dogs are kept in small, wire cages that are seldom cleaned. In general, these large-scale breeders are concerned with profit over the well-being of the animals. In addition to unsanitary conditions, the dogs often receive little to no veterinary care, pet meds
, exercise, grooming or shelter, depending on the facility.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that in addition, female dogs are given little time to recover between litters, causing them to lose the ability to reproduce in just a few years. When this happens, or when the breed goes out of style, the animals may be abandoned or killed. The same may happen to puppies that develop health conditions such as matting, sores, dental disease or abscesses that make them unsellable either to pet stores or online. Because the people who run the facilities are focused on the profit of selling the animals, little regard is given to ensuring the dogs do not suffer from genetic or hereditary diseases, meaning that the owners may have to deal with a health condition in their dog as it ages.
Khuly reports that one of the worst aspects of puppy mills is the lack of socialization for the dogs. Without proper socialization, the dogs may be "scarred beyond repair" psychologically, she says. Others may be shipped off to stores or owners before they are old enough, so they cannot be vaccinated and as a result fall ill easily. Parasites, worms and other infectious diseases run rampant in the shipment of these puppies.
The ASPCA is currently running a campaign to end the puppy mill supply to pet stores. The organization is asking supporters of the cause to not buy anything at a pet store if it sells puppies. While adoption is one safe route to go to stop supporting puppy mills, there are also reputable breeders who take care to ensure that their puppies are safe, healthy and happy as they grow.
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Jackie is a writer for 1-800-PetMeds, and loves to help and support the pet community. You can find more information on the PetMeds Blog or connect with PetMeds on Facebook.