My Encounter With Puppy Mills

Most people have heard talk of ‘puppy mills‘ but do you know what one is? I didn’t; I’m ashamed to say, not until 2009. So first, a quick brief on what puppy mills are…

The driving force behind puppy mills is greed, it’s all about money. The breeders do not care at all for the dogs well being. They house and breed dogs without food, water, minimal veterinary care (when they bother at all) and no socialization for the dogs.

They are kept in wire cages, overcrowded, and often stacked one on top of the other. The wires in these cages inflict pain and injury to their paws and legs; no comfort is given. Female dogs are the key; bred as often as possible and without consideration for their healthy recovery. There isn’t a recovery time between litters, and once the female can no longer give birth she is often killed.

A lot of times, including with the puppy I had, they inbreed the dogs, mother with son, in an attempt to have puppy’s that are smaller than average. This causes health issues in the litters the mother births, and that’s where my story begins. [For more info on puppy mills, please click here and check out the ASPCA’s information.]

When I was 6 years old I was given a Chihuahua; she is my heart, my best friend and a part of my soul. In 2008 she passed away. A part of me left with her; she is the only soul who knows mine in every regard, never judged and still loved me.

I was beyond devastated; some people don’t understand it but losing a dog is like losing a family member to me. I grieved for her, I still do. She’s my angel.

In 2009 as a gift a loved one found someone who sold Chihuahua puppies at a cheap price. Trying to help, they told me they’d buy one for me and I gave in. We never saw the house or the dog prior. These were the red flags we missed; I assumed all of the following happened because it was just their way of doing things. My advice is to trust your gut, like I should have, because I would have turned them in that day had I known what they were.

The breeder wanted to meet us in a parking lot; it is only now looking back I see that probably was because she didn’t want us to see the condition the animals were kept in. Being that it would save us half an hour to drive to this breeder we didn’t ask questions (always ask questions) and met her in a parking lot.

It was honestly like a drug deal. She showed me some puppies, tiny, tiny puppies, quickly I had to choose as she roughly handled them. Puppies under each arm, she struggled with them; I picked one, and as soon as I did she literally tossed, threw the other puppies back into her car at another girl who had remained in the car.

I said to her she was too rough with them; a response which received only a glare and eye roll. So I had the puppy I wanted, she wanted the money so it was handed over simultaneously as she shoved the small puppy at me, jumped in her car and drove off.

We should have known something was wrong; looking back I do remember thinking it was strange and rather cruel that she was taken away from her mother at only 5 weeks old. She was the most beautiful puppy; I wish I could find some photos. I wanted to give her an amazing life and never leave the others side. But as the days and weeks went by, this precious puppy had problems which began to worry me.

She couldn’t keep any food in, she was so, so tired and would always curl into a little ball on my lap and sleep until she wanted to eat; and then the process repeated. She was happy otherwise, she tried to play, but would get worn out so fast. But when she could play, she did so with so much love, innocence, kindness, acceptance and trust in me. She easily made her way into my heart and created her own home there.

But she wasn’t growing, at all. I decided I couldn’t wait until it was time for her shots and that I would take her to the veterinarian for a check up the next day. That night as I held her in my arms, she had her first seizure. I cannot describe the hurt I felt for her. This poor little innocent animal; suffering in my arms. When it was over I took care of her the best I could and was the first one at the Vet the next morning.

And then I received heart shattering news. She had a liver shut; there are different kinds, her’s was a congenital portosystemic shunt. In short that’s a birth defect (more than likely due to being inbred) which causes what should be normal blood flowing to and through the liver to be significantly reduced or gone all together. This means the blood bypasses the liver and without the needed blood flow to the liver, the puppy cannot advance as normal. To learn more about this, including symptoms, click here.

The vet then told me more likely than not would die in under a year. Surgery’s available but the vet advised against it saying in her case it was not likely to be successful, and sadly I had no where near the money needed.

I asked if she was in pain; he said no, if anything she was just tired and sleepy, but otherwise she didn’t know what was going on. He had been my vet for many years and he knows how I am with dogs and in return his opinion was one I valued so I asked him what I should do. I felt totally lost.

Just remembering this breaks my heart.

He said for me to keep her and show her the love and happiness she deserved- to give her the best life possible while she was here, adding he believed I could do that better than anyone else.

I hope that was true; I hope I succeeded- I tried. For about 9 months she was the center of my universe. For the most part she seemed fine, only sleeping a lot; she slept either on my lap when I worked, or between my shoulder and head when we went to bed. She did have seizures from time to time, thankfully not every day. I held her and cried over her and cursed any god listening while trying to sooth her. And then the time came and I lost her as I held her.

I’ve never shared that story. However, after seeing tweets from the ASPCA on puppy mills I thought it was time to share. Puppy mills tend to sell to pet shops; this person was found online through craigslist. By buying through pet shops you are supporting puppy mills, even if they give you the dogs “papers”.

There are so many abandon dogs out there I now only adopt and truly hope more people will begin to see the pain these innocent souls being inhumanely bred and sold will join me in saving the abandoned and neglected; join me in not giving money to support people who are cruel to dogs or any animals and adopt.

Below are links to pet stores in your area (and how to report any not there), as well as places in your area to adopt from.
From the ASPCA:

“Take a look inside our gallery of photos taken by USDA inspectors at licensed breeding facilities where violations were found. They depict both violations of the law and other conditions that are legal but that the ASPCA considers inhumane. “

Click here for ASPCA site; puppy stores in your area and a place to report unlisted ones, also includes breeders.

Click here for ASPCA site; where to find adoptable dogs and pets.