In my eighteen years working in the pet care industry, I have seen a massive increase in the puppy farming industry. As demand for cheaper, pure bred and designer puppies increases, this despicable trade booms and the last year we have cared for numerous puppies who were purchased cheaply over the internet, from newspaper adverts and in some cases pet shops. All with fake documentation. The majority required immediate veterinary treatment, while others died from preventable diseases such as parvovirus, indicative of the puppy mill industry.
By purchasing these pups, you might be removing them from a squalid life, but no thought is given to the mothers of these sick puppies who languish in cramped spaces, never seeing the light of day or feeling the comforting touch of a human hand. They are breeding machines, with little or no recovery between litters and when they can no longer reproduce, are often killed.
I remember Lily, a Cocker Spaniel who was purchased from an online advertisement. Our client had suspected that she was a breeding bitch since she was not house trained and was petrified of open spaces. When I first met Lily she was unresponsive and had very little interest accept for her owner, whom she followed everywhere. It was heartbreaking and took many visits before she would even acknowledge me, but the breakthrough, when it came, was almost euphoric. I entered the property as normal and called Lily’s name. Usually it took a few renditions of Hello by Lional Ritchie, before she would lift her head from a sleeping position, but that day, there was a slight wag of her tail and a little light in those dark brown eyes that made me believe that she was slowly emerging from her shell.
In the three years of walking Lily, she would never show the exuberance of a ‘normal’ dog, but slowly, over time, a bond was formed. Lily was shy with strangers throughout the remainder of her life, but she became the most loving of dogs and completely devoted to those within her family unit. Sadly the family moved out of our area, but kept in touch until we were informed that she died a couple of years later. Lily was one of the lucky ones. She made it out of her prison and was given a chance. She absolutely adored her saviors and her loyalty knew no bounds.
So how can we put an end to puppy mills? NEVER buy a puppy/dog from an online or newspaper or advertisement. Do NOT buy from a pet store and if you suspect that a neighbour, or someone you know is involved in the puppy mill trade, report them immediately to the RSPCA.
The only real way to shut down puppy mills is to stop the demand. Did you know that virtually every breed has a rescue, so if you really must have a pure bred puppy or dog, contact the Kennel Club, who will direct you to the right organisation. These societies are completely dedicated to re-homing pedigree dogs and by adopting this way, you are quite literally saving lives. For every empty kennel in rescue, or with a foster carer, there is another dog waiting to be re-homed.
I also find it extremely frustrating that some people see adoption centres as full of problematic dogs. Pets in rescue should never be tainted, as those with behavioral problems! Let me assure you that this is largely untrue!
Nearly 45% of our clients have pets adopted from shelters and not one has proved problematic to our pet sitters. In fact, they are loving, faithful and devoted to their owners and form close bonds with their sitters.
We have also helped to re-home clients pets, who have been the result of a marriage breakup, where clients have moved out of the country and been unable to take their pets with them, or a change in circumstances which has seen them unable to continue care for their animals, so please do not attach a stigma to pets that end up in rescue.
Far from being unadoptable, they make the most wonderful pets and a good rescue organisation will temperament test and offer training were necessary. They will also be fully assessed, health checked, micro chipped and spayed or castrated before going out into their new home, so please give them a chance