So you decided you want to buy a puppy...
Or maybe a kitten. Or maybe a parakeet...
Where do you look to find one?
If you're the average American, you'll probably saunter down to your local Pet Shop in the Shopping Mall and have a look around. Or you'll search for a breeder on the internet. Aren't they better quality than those puppies/kittens advertised in the newspaper?
And maybe you'll visit another Pet Shop (or a few websites) to compare animals and prices. After all, you want to be certain you get the pet you want for a fair price.
Let's say you bought your lovely pup from a local Pet Shop that seemed to offer the best deal, or at least, the cutest puppy.
Or maybe you found your pup on a website and, after receipt of payment, that 'breeder' shipped your puppy to you.
Then, satisfied you've made the right decision, you take home your new pet. Plus, you've got all those special supplies your pet will need.
Without knowing it, you've just given a significant amount of money to amply reward people who severely abuse, neglect and brutally murder many animals on a daily basis.
And now you're shocked. 'But how can that be?' you ask.
It gets worse. Your new 'pet' will almost certainly exhibit more medical and temperament problems than a pet purchased from a responsible breeder who doesn't sell to Pet Shops and who doesn't make much profit on the sale (if any).
Note: Today, most commercial breeders (and many backyard breeders) maintain websites to sell their baby animals. But its tough to tell you're looking at an unethical breeder's website, because it looks so nice! To determine if you're looking at an ethical breeder's website or not, click here and read.
Did you ever stop to wonder exactly where your pet came from?
If not, then it's because you've never seen the inside of a typical commercial breeder's operation: rows and rows of cages of unloved, unhealthy, untrained, filthy anonymous animals you will never meet. These poor animals often lay in their own poop and pee 24 hours a day. If they're lucky, once a week some human will spray them and their cages down with some chemical like bleach to 'disinfect' the area in an attempt to meet the lenient USDA requirements. The bleach will permeate not only everything they smell, but it will soak into the open sores on their feet and their body from being confined for so long in a cage.
Sound unreal? Think again. It's very real. And you can find them all over the United States. It's possible there's one in your town. If you live in Missouri, then your state is #1 in being the home-state of this type of commercial breeder.
Federal and state laws governing commercial breeders, also referred to as 'Puppy Mills', are extremely lax and rarely enforced. This means these people can routinely get away with severe animal cruelty and brutality on a massive scale. And they are almost never penalized. Rather, they are rewarded by people like you who purchase their 'babies' at Pet Shops.
You may ask, 'Why would anyone want to hurt animals like the ones we see in the Pet Shops? Is it just their motive to be cruel to animals? Surely this can't be true!'
Unfortunately for many animals locked inside these hell-holes, this is VERY true. It's amazing what some people will do for money. And again, yes, these inhumane commercial breeding establishments are inside the United States.
Selling baby animals can be a very lucrative venture if you don't have many scruples. There's little cost in acquiring the breeding stock. Overhead fees are small since you only need a building full of cages and a staff member or two to 'run' things. Since you only want to keep the animals from total starvation, you can under-feed whatever food you can scavenge at low cost from a food broker or any resource of cheap food. Also, Vet fees are non-existent because the very few medical clearances required can be done by untrained, unlicensed, minimum wage employees.
"No vet fees? Are you kidding??"
Sad, but true. If a pregnant dog or cat doesn't have her litter naturally, then she is often left to die in birth - alone, unloved, anonymous and caged. If a dog or cat's sick, it usually goes unnoticed and untreated, being left to die alone, unloved, anonymous and caged. There is NO LAW against this that has any meaning nor is enforced.
IMPORTANT: I'm not speaking from something I've read in a text book. I'm speaking from personal experience. And I hope to goodness I never see anything like that again.
You may say, "But how can this be happening in America? Surely someone has made a stand against it?"
Unfortunately, yes, this happens in America. And yes, there have been groups of people who've banded together against these unthinkable, inhumane hitler-types. But it's incredibly difficult to get through the politics and red-tape to get one of these commercial breeders out of business. And even if you do, all they have to do is change their business name and location, notify their clients about their new contact info and they're back in business.
"But how can they stay in business?"
Before reading this document, didn't you feel purchasing a pet from a Pet Shop or from a Website was a great idea? The average American has zero education about where Pet Shops (or websites) get their animals.
Pet Shops and Websites by unethical breeders count on their clientele (you) having zero education about buying a quality animal.
Typically, people who buy animals from a Pet Shop or a nicely presented Website feel they're getting a quality purebred animal and are willing to pay a handsome price for the privilege. (After all, it's got registration papers, right?)
Pet Shops and Websites offer a very socially acceptable avenue to sell baby animals and birds that are not pre-screened for health, temperament or conformation. And, as you know, Pet Shops usually get a good price for the pets they sell.
AKC does not differentiate registration between responsible breeders and irresponsible breeders. AKC's sole focus is to verify an animals purebred status. This means YES, you can buy a registered animal from a disreputable breeder. Chances are, you probably wouldn't ever know the difference (until you had to deal with medical and/or temperament issues typical in poorly bred pets).
Again, breeding puppies, kittens, and birds to sell can be a VERY profitable business - IF - IF - IF you don't abide by the rules of a responsible breeder. There is no government law which says that a breeder has to breed animals responsibly. There is no government law which says a breeder must only breed quality, healthy animals. There is no government law which says a breeder must have medical clearances before selling a pet.
If my words here have made you take a closer look at where your pet came from, then I've achieved my main goal.
I hope you'll never look the same innocent way at puppies and kittens in Pet Shops ever again.
Better yet, when you get the opportunity to voice your concern about lax animal rights laws - I hope you'll speak up to stop commercial breeders from making profits at such inhumane cost.
Thanks for taking the time to get a little better educated about this horrible topic.
-Esther Wilson, SageKeep Kennels
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