Educating You on Puppy Mills

Every year in Canada hundreds of thousands of dogs are euthanized in shelters because there is simply no room. The purpose of this blog is education. It’s meant to make you aware of the plight of the puppy mill dog and how the puppies are lucky they get to leave.

What is a back yard breeder?

The following information was taken from:

Back yard breeders usually do not have bad intentions, but the results of back yard breeding can be devastating. Many back yard breeders do not have the knowledge to properly raise a healthy, socialized litter, or to help the new owner with any problems that might arise.

Back yard breeders may act on a desire to make extra money, or simply out of ignorance. Sometimes back yard breeders will breed so “their children can experience the miracle of birth”, or they mistakenly believe “every dog should have one litter.” They may think their dog is so cute, he/she would make wonderful puppies, with little or no thought for the homes to which their puppies will go. Other back yard breeders see how much money legitimate breeders charge for pups and figure they could make some “easy money” too. Or, a back yard breeder may have a completely unplanned litter by accident.

Back yard breeders usually bring two breeding animals together regardless of their quality. They are not interested in scientific breeding. Their aim is to fulfill a personal need or goal, not to improve the breed and bring excellent quality dogs to the world. Since breed excellence is generally unimportant, the breeding dogs generally will not have been tested for genetic and health problems.

Back yard breeders are not necessarily bad people, they often come from middle to upper income families, and their dogs can be well loved and kept.

However, getting a pup from a back yard breeder is a gamble:

  • the parents likely have not been screened for health problems
  • puppies usually are not sold with contracts and no future support to the buyer
  • the breeders are not in it for the long haul
  • They will be working on new personal objectives in five years when your pet has a problem and you need help.

Although you might pay less for the breed of your choice from a back yard breeder, it’s almost a given that in the long run, you’ll pay a good deal more in vet bills and perhaps emotional bills (if the dog has to be euthanized due to a health or temperament problem), than you would from a reputable breeder.

What is a puppy mill?

The following information was taken from:

The Canadian Kennel Club Policy Statement – Definition of a Puppy Mill

(Effective March 2002)

“The term “Puppy Mill” generally refers to a high-volume, sub-standard dog-breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed breed dogs, directly or indirectly to unsuspecting buyers. Some of the characteristics common to puppy mills are:

(a) Sub-standard health and/or environmental issues;

(b) Sub-standard animal care, treatment and/or socialization;

(c) Sub-standard breeding practices which lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders;

(d) Erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigrees and/or genetic background.

Note: These conditions may also exist in small volume or single breed establishments.”

They sell primarily to retail pet shops (usually via a broker), but occasionally sell directly to individual consumers. Dogs are bred solely for profit, with no concern for their physical health or psychological well-being – most are disease-ridden; all are force-bred continuously. They often use “Kennels” or “Farms” in its business name. Dogs’ and puppies’ are usually in squalid living conditions and are off-limits to the public.

If you think you have been to a mill or have seen substandard conditions at a breeders establishment please call your local SPCA/Humane Society IMMEDIATELY to report what you saw. Only witnessed accounts can be reported.

The following list was taken from:

A responsible breeder:

  • Allows you to visit and willingly shows you all areas where puppies and breeding dogs spend their time.   Those areas are clean, spacious, and well-maintained
  • Has dogs who appear lively, clean, and healthy, and don’t shy away from visitors
  • Keeps their breeding dogs as you feel a responsible person would keep their pets: not overpopulated, crowded, dirty, or continually confined to cages
  • Breeds only one or a few types of dogs and is knowledgeable about the breeds and their special requirements
  • Doesn’t always have puppies available but may keep a list of interested people for the next available litter or refer people to other responsible breeders or breed clubs
  • Meets psychological, as well as physical, needs of their dogs by providing toys, socialization, exercise, and enrichment as befits the specific breed
  • Encourages you to spend time with the puppy’s parents—at a minimum, the pup’s mother—when you visit
  • Has a strong relationship with one or more local veterinarians and shows you individual records of veterinary visits for your puppy
  • Explains in detail the potential genetic and developmental problems inherent to the breed and provides documentation that the puppy’s parents and grandparents have been professionally evaluated in an effort to breed those problems out of their puppies. (This will include testing for genetic diseases for which there are valid testing protocols available)
  • Offers guidance for the care and training of your puppy and is available for assistance after you take your puppy home
  • Provides references from other families who have previously purchased one of their puppies
  • Is often actively involved with local, provincial, and national clubs that specialize in the specific breed; Responsible breeders may also compete with the dogs in conformation events, obedience trials, tracking and agility trials, or other performance events
  • Sells puppies only to people he/she has met in person, not to pet stores or to unknown buyers over the Internet
  • Encourages multiple visits and wants your entire family to meet the puppy
  • Provides you with a written contract and health guarantee and allows plenty of time for you to read  it thoroughly
  • Doesn’t require that you use a specific veterinarian

A responsible breeder requires you to:

  • Explain why you want a dog
  • Explain who in your family will be responsible for the pup’s daily care and training; where the dog will spend most of his or her time; and what “rules” have been decided upon for the puppy—for example, whether the dog will be allowed on furniture
  • Provide proof from your landlord or condominium board (if you rent or live in a condominium complex) that you are allowed to have a dog
  • Provide a veterinary reference if you have had other pets
  • Sign a contract that you will spay or neuter the dog unless you will be actively showing him or her
  • Sign a contract stating that you will return the dog to the breeder should you be unable to keep the dog at any point in the dog’s life

Written by: Marion Cummings, CSR