The Argument for Puppy Mills
AKC upholds Puppy Mills, says show breeders can't supply enough purebred dogs, and puppy mills perform a public service.
August 19, 2011
Cheryl Andrews, guest writer
I just read an article suggesting that AKC accepts the huge puppy mills (Hunte Corp, et al) as necessary because they aren’t doing any harm, in fact they are actually providing a vital service to the public because “show breeders” who raise two or three litters a year simply can not supply the public demand for purebred dogs.
Is this true? It certainly sounds like a reasonable argument, after all, no one knows better than AKC how many purebred dogs are bought and sold each year.
So, disregarding common sense and personal knowledge, I did a little research. I decided to act like a member of the general public and see if I could find a purebred dog for sale. What I found was far more disturbing than I expected.
I thought I would begin with the second most obvious source; the local paper. It has been quite a while since I bought a newspaper so my first surprise came when I opened the Pets section to see five pages of “Dogs For Sale”. I took a deep breath and counted the classified ads: 518! Where did all these dogs come from – and where are they going?
I live in a relatively small town, so I was surprised by the number and diversity offered. All purebred. There were only four ads for mixed-breed puppies, and all were stated to be from purebred parents. Just an “oops” kinda thing won’t happen again officer but they’re almost purebred wanna buy one? I found ads for Akitas, Chinese Crested, Dogue De Bordeaux, and many other breeds once rare that used to have long waiting lists for puppies.
So AKC is right; everybody wants a pure-bred dog, but there hardly seems to be a shortage. At this point I thought I was making a dent in the AKC argument that puppy mills were filling a vital gap in the purebred dog supply. However, the game wasn’t over - I had a mission: to find a purebred dog from a responsible breeder or admit that the puppy mills were indeed performing a public service. I pressed on.
In my persona as Member of the General Public my next move would be to decide which breed looks most interesting and choose a few ads to call for details. Since the original intent of the search was to see if I could find purebred dogs without relying on puppy mills, I had to have a way to sort out who’s who. Time to apply a short version of The Puppy Mill Test.
I began to look for repeated phone numbers. I didn’t even get through the first column before I found 5 separate ads for 4 different breeds all with the same phone number. Four different breeds from the same location advertising dogs and puppies for sale at the same time in itself would be disturbing but not absolute proof of a puppy mill. The wording of the ads nailed the coffin:
Excuse me for a moment – it’s time to pick up Toto and proclaim we’re not in Kansas anymore.
There are undoubtedly a few such small-time puppy mills in every town. We don’t have to go to the Midwest to find puppy mills. Uh, oh. Does this mean we don’t need those big puppy factories? Hunte Corp and others (you know who you are) will be so disappointed.
The need is filled, the supply is assured, the public is sated. Aren’t they? If breeds like the Belgian Malinois, Chinese Crested and Italian Greyhound are being traded for plumbing services and used cars, (also in this same paper) the breeders must be having a tough time finding homes for all those puppies. Whoever leaked the word that breeding dogs is a good way to make easy money should update the message. Seems like the supply might be outpacing the demand.
As these thoughts were going through my mind, another question popped up demanding attention. A question that had been passed over earlier as trivial, but which now seemed more important. What about those free-to-a-good-home dogs?
I had to go back to the newspaper for more research.
Here the evidence was a little more as expected: about a page and a half of dogs and puppies looking for good homes. At last, back on familiar ground. While most of the dogs were advertised as pure-bred there was much less variety to choose from, but since they were free my newly minted average person identity was tempted and strangely reassured. Not everyone is out to make a quick buck. Or so I thought.
Among the owners giving up treasured pets due to "ill health", "emergency move", "found as a stray" and "I already have too many", were the usual accidental litters and regretted impulse acquisitions. At least these people were making an effort to find homes for their unwanted pets rather than taking the easy way out and dumping them on the highway or taking them to the nearest shelter.
Just as I was beginning to feel a little better about human nature, I found these:
Both of these ads had the same phone number listed. Gee, wonder why they insist on unspayed/unneutered dogs… On a hunch, I went back to the Dogs For Sale section and scanned the Dachshund ads. Yep, there it was. And there’s another. And another. Three classified ads offering various Dachshund puppies at $200 each. All the ads showed the same phone number as the two above-mentioned Wanted ads. Talk about a mark-up!
So here comes the big question (s) : Is AKC aware of this? Do they care? Can/should Animal Control investigate? I found these ads in my local paper using my own random, unscientific methods - and this is just one week out of the year. I am not a statistician, but the odds of this being the only week - and the only paper - that these type ads appear in must be pretty low. Is anyone out there paying attention to what is going on? Is anyone in charge of this circus? I am all in favor of anyone making a living, but this stinks worse than the field after the circus leaves town. These people are not subtle, and are clearly making no attempt to hide their activities from AKC or Animal Control
Why? Because they know that there is no risk! I know from personal experience that local Animal Control is already stretched to the limits of budgets and legal boundaries. They have all they can do to keep up with the most critical complaints and unfortunately don’t have the time, manpower or resources to look for more to do. And AKC, well, where is AKC? Is there no way to track litter registrations and questionable owner transfers? Isn’t this exactly what AKC claims to be in existence to do? Are they also suffering from lack of funding, manpower and basic investigative resources?
I seem to have lost the desire to play Average Citizen. Oh well. I think I found what I wanted anyway. Yes, it is possible to find an AKC registered, healthy, purebred dog of just about any breed from local sources. There is certainly no lack of available dogs in my area, even without counting the obvious puppy mills. Does the general public need puppy factories to fill the gap between mixed-breed rejects and hard-to-find, high-priced show dogs? Not in my area.
Who woulda figured that?
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