Do you know where cute puppies come from? Why buying a dog at the pet store is “wrong”.

Puppies on display at a pet shop (2017). (c) Kasumi Abe

A shiny coat, clear and innocent eyes, and a tail that sways charmingly. Anyone might have had experiences (where) you saw adorable puppies at the pet shop and instantly fell in love with them… 

However how many people think about where the cute puppies came from?

The cute puppies you saw at the pet shop have come from “puppy mills”. This is the report from the U.S. on the unbelievable truth of dog suffering.

What is a puppy mill?

A puppy mill is a facility of squalid puppy production that is overbred. It is an unscrupulous business that irresponsibly mass-produces puppies for commercial purposes to be sold at pet shops.

It keeps small animal pets such as dogs and cats in cramped cages (small barn or shed), never take them for walks, and gives them the cheapest food available. Then, in an extremely filthy breeding environment covered in excrement, they are allowed to have as many children as possible, and when they are no longer needed, they are killed or surrendered to rescue

Dogs that are considered “useless” include parent dogs that can no longer produce puppies, not looking good dogs that don’t have buyers and dogs with disabilities. Those dogs are sometimes brought into animal shelters, but basically, they are euthanized by puppy mills.

A dog is rescued from a puppy mill in Arkansas

Search for “puppy mills” on Google Images, and you’ll find lots of pictures (the tragic realities of pets).

It is said that there are about 10,000 such puppy mills in the U.S. On the east coast, most are concentrated in Pennsylvania and most of them are  Amish* who have lived there and are involved in the operation in order to earn a living because it is easier than farming.

*Amish: A religious group that still refuses to introduce modern technology such as electricity, telephones, and the Internet into their lives, and continues to live a self-sufficient life (as much as possible) in the same way as before modern times, such as farming and livestock farming.

Poor breeding environments such as puppy mills and disposal in the name of disposal are regarded as one animal cruelty, and in developed countries such as the U.S. more and more people are opposing the operation of puppy mills. increasingly widespread among However, due to the slow progress in legal regulation, there are still puppy mills and pet shops that continue to operate.

Along with the slow progress of legal reform, some people have started reforming people’s awareness, and every year this time of year is designated as “Puppy Mill Awareness Day“, and protests against puppy mills and consumer awareness events are held throughout the U.S.

In order to let people know the tragic reality of pets, the event encourages people who want to adopt a dog to adopt a rescue dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization instead of buying it from a pet shop.

ใƒ‘ใƒ”ใƒผใƒŸใƒซๅ•“็™บใƒ‡ใƒผใฏใ€ๆฏŽๅนด9ๆœˆใฎ็ฌฌ3ๅœŸๆ›œๆ—ฅใซๅฎŸๆ–ฝใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
Puppy Mill Awareness Day is held on the third Saturday of September every year. (c) Kasumi Abe

Carol Araneo-Mayer is leading this event in Pennsylvania. With the help of the supporters, she holds this awareness event to educate people about the reality of puppy mills, adopt dogs they want to get rid of, and find new owners for them. She started these activities 19 years ago when she learned about the “reality” of abandoned dogs taken in by a rescue organization.

โ€œI was shocked to learn that most of them were leftovers from pet stores or abandoned dogs for various reasons, and moreover that they had come from puppy mills,โ€ she said.

Carrol said many of these dogs were traumatized by abuse and exhibited behaviors that were psychiatrically problematic.

โ€œPuppy mill dogs are unhealthy because they are not receiving proper medical attention and are receiving poor food and drinking water. So thatโ€™s why the puppies are also weak and unhealthy.”

ใƒ‘ใƒ”ใƒผใƒŸใƒซใฎๅ•“็™บๆดปๅ‹•ใ‚’20ๅนด่ฟ‘ใใ—ใฆใ„ใ‚‹ใ‚ญใƒฃใƒญใƒซใ•ใ‚“ใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
Carol has been raising awareness about puppy mills for nearly 20 years. (c) Kasumi Abe

A mentally ill dog I saw at the rescue destination of the abandoned dogs

Another day, I accompanied a volunteer who has been helping rescue dogs from puppy mills to Adopt A Pet, Inc., a rescue organization in New Jersey that Carol is involved with.

Five dogs aged between 5 and 9 were rescued that day. They were raised in puppy mills until they were useless, and were rescued before they were killed by the puppy miller. The puppies were sold well so that they were put on the market, and some mother dogs were separated from their puppies only six weeks after giving birth. None of the dogs are groomed, so it’s hard to say they’re beautiful. Enlarged nipples and belly meat are hanging down. Some dogs had what looked like burn marks.

Andrea Steensen, a volunteer foster home, said some of the rescued dogs are in better shape than others.

ใƒ‘ใƒ”ใƒผใƒŸใƒซใ‹ใ‚‰ๆ•‘ๅ‡บใ•ใ‚ŒใŸ็ŠฌใŸใกใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
Dogs rescued from puppy mills. (c) Kasumi Abe

My friend who works as a volunteer brought one home from here and said she will take care of it until it finds a foster home. However, whether in the car or at home, the dog would remain crouched in a dark, narrow gap in the shade all the time. It seems that this dog has a mental illness. Looking at her, I could easily imagine how this dog had lived in such a miserable environment, without seeing the puppy mills. I felt unbearable.

ใ“ใฎ็Šฌใฏใšใฃใจใ“ใฎๅ ดๆ‰€ใ‹ใ‚‰ๅ‹•ใ“ใ†ใจใ—ใชใ‹ใฃใŸใ€‚ๆญฏใ‚‚ๆฑšใชใ„ใฎใฏใ€Œใพใจใ‚‚ใช้ฃฒใฟๆฐดใ‚’ไธŽใˆใ‚‰ใ‚Œใฆใ„ใชใ„ใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€ใจใ‚ญใƒฃใƒญใƒซใ•ใ‚“ใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
This dog never moved from this spot. Carol says that the reason why her teeth are dirty is because she doesn’t get clean drinking water. (c) Kasumi Abe

Keiko Matsumura, who once adopted a dog from a puppy mill, recalls the time she met the dog.

โ€œShe stiffened due to nervousness and was extremely frightened. She had been abused. I took care of her, trying to at least earn her trust. It took about a year for her to open up to me. Iโ€™m glad to she became an irreplaceable member of the family In the end.โ€

Laws and regulations slow to progress

“The problem is people are not taking responsibility for their pets’ lives,” says Jackie Keeney, president of United Against Puppy Mills

ใ€Œไบบใ€…ใŒใƒšใƒƒใƒˆใฎๅ‘ฝใซๅฏพใ—ใฆ่ฒฌไปปใ‚’ๆŒใฃใฆใ„ใชใ„ใ“ใจใŒๅ•้กŒใ€ใจใ‚ธใƒฃใƒƒใ‚ญใƒผใ•ใ‚“ใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
“The problem is that people don’t take responsibility for their pets’ lives,” said Jackie. (c) Kasumi Abe

According to Jackie, state laws and regulations on puppy mill operators are being strengthened and improvements to the breeding environment are being demanded, but it is said that there are also unregistered and under-covered puppy mills, and legal regulations and improvements will take time. 

โ€œLaws take time to change, so we have started by educating people,โ€ says Janie Jenkins, president of Stop Online Puppy Mills. Janie is working to inform people about the current situation of puppy mills so that people who want to get a dog can make a good choice.

It’s been 9 years since we started operating. Compared to the beginning, sales in stores have decreased, but online sales are increasing instead.

โ€œIt is important to know how bad the environment the puppies came from and what kind of environment the parent dogs were raised in. Without knowing that, the live animals should not be boxed and delivered as if they were a commodity.

ใ€ŒๅŠฃๆ‚ช็’ฐๅขƒใ‚’็ŸฅใฃใŸไบบใชใ‚‰ใƒขใƒŽใจใ—ใฆใƒšใƒƒใƒˆใ‚’ใ‚ชใƒผใƒ€ใƒผใ—ใชใ„ใจๆ€ใ†ใ€ใจใ‚ธใ‚งใ‚คใƒ‹ใƒผใ•ใ‚“ใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
“People who know the poor environment would not order a pet in the boxes,” says Janey. (c) Kasumi Abe

“Don’t buy pets” Growing momentum in the world

Animal welfare is a growing concern around the world.

In the five states in the U.S., including California, Illinois, and Maryland, have banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. In New York, a similar bill (the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill) was passed by the state legislature in June this year and is just waiting for the governor’s signature. On the other hand, pet shop owners are lobbying against signing the bill, citing the loss of significant financial resources.

France will ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops from 2024. If you want to have a pet, you can only buy it directly from a breeder or pick it up from an animal shelter.

ใ‚ทใƒงใ‚ฆใ‚ฆใ‚คใƒณใƒ‰ใ‚ฆใ‹ใ‚‰็”ŸใใŸ็Šฌ็ŒซใฎๅงฟใŒๆถˆใˆใŸใƒšใƒƒใƒˆใ‚ทใƒงใƒƒใƒ—ใ€‚(c) Kasumi Abe
A pet shop where live dogs and cats have disappeared from the show window. (c) Kasumi Abe

What can do if you want a pet?

If you want to have a pet, it is recommended that you adopt it at an animal shelter or rescue organization that temporarily protects abandoned dogs and cats. If you want a dog with a pedigree, you can buy a dog from a legitimate breeder that has created an environment that raises them with love and care. To determine whether itโ€™s a legitimate breeder, “In the U.S., you can check the details with a breeder registered with the AKC (American Kennel Club).”, Andrea said.

“If you’re buying a dog, make sure to diligence on where it came from,” Carrol says. Once, she asked a vendor to meet the parents of the puppies and see how they were doing. She was asked, “Why are you so worried about the parents?”. She was stunned. โ€œFor them, a mother dog is just a machine that produces puppies,โ€ she says.

“Puppy mills will stop breeding dogs if no one buys puppies from pet stores anymore, it’s no longer profitable. The problem is up to the consumer.”

#puppymill

(Text and photos by Kasumi Abe.  The original Japanese version on Yahoo! Japan news ) All rights reserved.

The related articles by Kasumi Abe

“Think twice before getting a pet!” (NY Japion, 2013)

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