Puppy Mills and Commercial Breeders Defined

by Mary Haight on March 8, 2010

Reporting over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune said activists are after commercial breeders as well as puppy mills. No surprise here, given that Chloe’s Law, written in Jan 2009 to deal with this problem, was gutted in the last quarter of the year due to pressure largely from a lobbying alliance between the AKC and NRA.  Defining puppy mills will not be as easy as it should be. Commercial breeders somehow believe they are not part of the problem.

Not long ago, a Chicago pet shop prosecuted protesters who allegedly became a little strident in their attempt to educate the public about the source of pet shop animals.  Protesters accused the place of buying their dogs from puppy mills.

The owner took great exception to being portrayed as a seller of puppy mill puppies, proclaiming their shop bought from a USDA approved facility…as if that granted him a clean bill of health, especially in Illinois. There has been no activity in either suspended or revoked breeders licenses for the last five years; funds are not assigned for proper oversight.

Federal laws do not sufficiently protect the welfare of animals, and have been fashioned to make things easy for the commercial breeders, even to imposing unfair taxes on good family breeders. I’m talking about those who socialize their dogs in their home, and who can provide you with a good look at the mom and the dad of the litter. Because these breeders don’t raise pups for profit, they struggle to make ends meet.

Puppy mills are not just the barns in the middle of vast tracts of land run by unqualified or disinterested, sometimes unlicensed owners looking to make a financial killing on the backs of suffering dogs and cats.  Puppy mills are any facility that mass produces animals destined to be companion animals.  This includes commercial breeders whose only interest is to perform a monetary transaction and transfer of ownership of puppys and kittens.  Just like puppy mills.  No good breeder is interested in just the money–they want meet you, your family, and find out all about you to ensure you are a suitable fit for their pups. And they sure don’t raise dogs in wire cages outside the norms of everyday home life experience.

The Tribune article seemed to hitch one of its arguments to the fact that commercial breeders are legal, implying that therefore they should not be lumped in with puppy mills who mistreat animals. I would caution that legal status does not guarantee ethical behavior, nor does it confer legitimacy in business practices.

As to Ryan Rauch, the 40-year-old commercial breeder, I would say, even with eight employees, he can’t believe he is properly socializing and caring for 200 animals to be family pets.  In wire cages. In a commercial barn.  Where he won’t allow photographs, fearing trouble from animal activists, as if interior photos would give away location.  This sounds like denial to me, so let me help.

Mr. Rauch, you did not make your case.  We are not just pot-stirring “trying to get uneducated individuals seeing everything their way.”  We are trying to stop the madness.  4-5,000,000 pets killed per year.  How many puppys and kittens are farmed in facilities like yours per year? They are sold without any questions asked by the pet shops you sell to, then a  percentage are dumped in the laps of shelters when the puppys are young dogs and people find them difficult to control and too expensive to train?  Not to mention illness and genetic defects. If we take it on its face that we have a pet overpopulation problem, do you see a possible connection here?  Any questions?  We welcome your comments.

Related Posts: Beat Puppy Mills at their Own Game; Ben Stein Against Puppy Mills; AKC Partners with Hunte; Dog Law News

17 comments
ellen green
ellen green

I didn't realize that even puppies for sale by breeders were considered "puppy mills" - I guess there are still some breeders that do socialize their puppies and provide them with a proper environment instead of a cage to live in but I do think in the end it is on the buyer of these puppies for sale, that should insist on seeing the puppy in its living conditions, with the mother, before they spend a cent on buying one. My 2 cents Ellen

Jon
Jon

I'm sorrY i maY make some people mad but who has thousands to paY for a new puppY. not everYbodY can and not me. im not for puppies stuffed in overcrowed crates in bad conditions but but a puppY for 200 and 2000 is a big different to us middle class working people. EspeciallY when these top breeders breed their dogs to have bad hips and other defects that leads to these dogs having short lives. i have had manY dogs in mY lifetime and have found that the ones that cost less live longer.

Amy@GoPetFriendly
Amy@GoPetFriendly

I agree whole-heartedly with Amber. These animals are not a "product," they are someone's new family member. I guess these commercial breeders are trying to protect their business investment - what they need to understand is that our society is moving forward and this industry is will be reformed. They should accept reality and move on.

Amber
Amber

Great post Mary! I look forward to a time when there is such a shortage of pets that they are cherished as a valued commodity and treated with the love and respect they deserve ... and when they will no longer be disposable items.

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Yes, I'm a little disappointed we haven't heard from Mr. Rauch! Money changes everything. We don't have any anymore. I imagine this is a major issue throughout the States and these millers know it. Maybe States can recruit animal advocates to inspect, take three or four minutes of video, some still photos and submit the report to State inspectors.

Rod@GoPetFriendly
Rod@GoPetFriendly

Hmmmmm. No comment from Mr. Rauch yet? The USDA and FDA don't have the funding to do the best job of protecting humans from bad food and bad drugs. I can only imagine the few dollars and little oversight that gets directed at puppy mills.

Nicole
Nicole

One of the most troubling ideas is that commercial breeders can make enough money to pay off inspectors. In fact, that may be one of their only costs! If all of those things were remotely true, photos would be welcome and encouraged. If animals were being treated in a way that would make people want to purchase them, pictures (real pics, not the crap where the pups are moved, cleaned, and then photographed) would be a great marketing tactics. I'm Irish, too!

Robert
Robert

Good article. When I got Angeles from his breeder she was one that wanted to meet me and make sure we were a good fit. Also, she stopped breeding for a year as the economy started taking a hit so her dogs wouldn't end up in shelters. That is the sign of a responsible breeder. We hope to breed Angeles with the same care and responsibility one day too.

Edie
Edie

Good post, Mary. The USDA -- theoretically -- regulates puppy mills too. That is, some facilities that keep animals crowded in cages pass inspection because they are clean. As far as I can tell, "inhumane" is not on the USDA check list of reasons to ban facilities.

michele
michele

My dream is to see everyone who wants a dog or cat to get one from their local shelter. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, you would be surprised at what you can find at a local shelter. You can also get a specific breed at a rescue club. If you go the breeder route, visit the site; talk to the breeders, examine the premises. Shopping at a puppy mill, pet store, or backyard breeder is disgraceful.

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