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Do You Know Where Your Dog Came From?

Have you ever seen an adorable puppy staring at you out of the window of a local pet store? Does he beg for your attention by pressing his little paws on the glass? Before you know it you are inside the store, and are mesmerized by the cute furry faces peering at you from their cages. All of a sudden you want to buy a puppy, and you are not alone.

According to the United States Humane Society, approximately 72.8 million people own dogs in the United States. Dog owners know everything about their dog, what time their dog goes to bed, what it likes to eat and what kind of shoes it likes to chew on.  However, many of them don’t know where their beloved pet was born. Owners, who buy their dogs from pet stores, are so captivated by the cute faces of these animals that they fail to consider the harm that occurs to the dogs in making them available for sale.  Ninety-nine percent of the furry companions we often see displayed in pet stores are products of puppy mills.

What is a puppy mill? A puppy mill is a facility where commercial breeders mass breed dogs to the point where it can become animal abuse. These breeders don’t care about the animals, they care about the profit. The dogs in puppy mills face terrible conditions. One facility may be home to hundreds or thousands of dogs, each confined to small, wire-floor cages where they are locked up for days and even years. No walks, no blankets, no toys, no love. Cages are often stacked one on top of the other, allowing feces to fall through to the animals below. Mothers are bred as soon as they are able and for as long as they physically can, and are often not provided with proper nutrition to sustain them during their pregnancies.  These animals are given the bare minimum, food and water.  Veterinary care is unheard of, cleanliness is often nonexistent and negligence is everywhere. A high percentage of puppies never live to see the pet store window, they die in the squalor they were born into.  Furthermore, if a breed suddenly goes out of style, the mothers are disposed of as quickly as possible using appalling methods such as drowning and shooting.  The lack of sufficient state inspectors leaves basic care requirements for breeders unenforced.

It stands to reason that any rational prospective puppy owner would not want to support the vicious cycle of the puppy mill. The puppies that make it to the pet store are adopted by owners who never know the misery their new puppy has faced.  Puppies from pet stores often come with papers, boasting pure pedigrees and reputable origins. The average buyer is so smitten with their newfound friend that they fail to carefully research the details of its breeding which are often obscured and in many instances, false.

So, what can we do to stop this cruelty once and for all? Spread awareness and resist the temptations of pet store windows and adopt one of the many puppies available in your local animal shelter.  Although many believe that the purchase of a pet store puppy saves a puppy from its miserable beginnings.  However, one must consider that the hefty prices paid for these animals ensure that more dogs will go down this path of misery.  Always check your local shelter before buying from a pet store; many fancy purebred dogs are often put up for adoption due to unexpected size, medical conditions and even situations where owners have to choose between feeding themselves or their dogs.  These dilemmas result in more homeless pets than ever. If an animal shelter does not offer the breed you are looking for, you should research carefully and find a respectable breeder.

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