Puppy mills: Adopt, don’t shop

By Brittany Reed

Whether they’re purebred or a random mix of breeds, puppies are arguably the cutest animals to exist. However, the practice of dog breeding and selling isn’t always done in a humane way. Puppy mills, “large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of dogs,” according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), are common, and young dogs are not always cared for as much as they should be.

According to the ASPCA, large commercial breeders use inhumane tactics to produce “the highest number of puppies at the lowest possible cost.” These tactics can include keeping puppies in tiny cages, breeding in unsanitary conditions, limited vet care, nonstop breeding and sudden separation between puppies and their mothers. 

The ASPCA states that puppy dealers transport a bulk number of puppies from breeders and then resells them to pet stores across the United States. However, there isn’t a limit on the number of hours puppies can be transported and there’s no limit for how many animals can be packed into one vehicle.

“Big puppy mills should at least go through inspection to ensure the healthy and happy life of their dogs,” said Rachel Packard, sophomore psychology major. “More so, I believe puppy mills should be shut down entirely as they typically only have capitalist motives.” 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, almost 10,000 puppy mills exist in the U.S. and only 2,024 of them are USDA licensed. However, not all dog breeding operations are bad. The Humane Society’s responsible dog breeder checklist states that a responsible breeder is transparent and open, has updated veterinary records for their dogs, is knowledgeable about their breeds, and will want you to sign a contract. 

My parents have two French bulldogs that they purchased from a small breeder. We knew the breeder cared about their dogs because all of their puppies were well-taken care of, they made my parents sign a contract, and also make sure the dog parents were healthy, happy and not overbreeding. 

“Breeders aren’t a bad thing in my opinion if you want a specific kind of dog, such as a blue French bulldog,” said Maggie Schmook, sophomore public health and applied sociology major. “Adopting is always a great option, also there are so many dogs and cats in pounds and rescues that are equally lovable.”.

The phrase, “adopt, don’t shop” is well-known and also saves lives. According to the ASPCA, roughly 1.5 million animals are euthanized each year, and 20% of dogs that enter shelters get euthanized. Therefore, adopting one of these dogs can not only save their life, but also creates shelter space for other animals that need it. The Humane Society states that adopting a dog can cost less than buying one and many shelter pets are already house-trained, making it easier on the new dog parent. Also, adopting pets helps fight puppy mills. 

“Buying from places like PetSmart or PetCo. just adds to the gross demand,” said Packard. “There are so many dogs that need to be adopted from kill shelters instead.”

According to the ASPCA, most pet store puppies come from puppy mills even though some pet stores make false statements saying they don’t get their dogs from puppy mills or support inhumane breeding. Customers don’t see firsthand where the puppies come from, so it’s easy for pet stores to deceive them. However, not all pet stores are bad. Not all of them sell puppies or other large animals, and most sell the supplies needed to care for a pet. 

“Ultimately [pet stores] do a service for the community. Whether you view it as bad or good it’s up to you. They groom pets, they sell food for pets—so they do much more than just sell them,” said Edras Montero, sophomore accounting major.

I think the most important thing to do is make sure your future furry friend comes from a breeder that genuinely cares about the health and wellness of their dogs—or even better, adopt a dog in need of a new home from an animal shelter or pound.

Brittany Reed can be reached at brittany.reed@spartans.ut.edu


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