In recent years there have been a number of issues dealing with puppy mills or backyard breeders. Many people don’t realize that when they buy a dog from a pet store or even a reputable breeder, their new family member may have come from a mill. Here are four signs to watch for.
What are puppy mills?
Dogs from puppy mills are usually taken from their mothers at 6 weeks of age. Puppy mill dogs are then kept in small cages for the rest of their lives, only being released when absolutely necessary.
Often dogs from backyard breeders are never socialized with humans. Dogs are left to live in filth, and often times have diseases or injuries that go untreated. Dogs in puppy mills are at risk for serious illness. If they do not die an early death due to neglect or disease, they still will likely be thrown away once the dog becomes less “cute” to the breeder’s eyes – usually around 1-2 years old.
Many animal lovers become outraged when they hear about puppy mills, but sadly there are still many people trying to breed dogs for cash income. Many people don’t realize that when they buy a dog from a pet store or even a reputable breeder, their new family member may have come from a mill. Here are four signs to watch for.
1. Price is Too Good to be True
Puppy mill dogs are sold for much less than other breeders sell their pups. However, the reason the price is low is that these puppies are being produced in overcrowded facilities with little human interaction or care. They are often sickly and malnourished even when you purchase them as adults, so they will not have a long life span. When you purchase one of these dogs, you will most likely end up spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on vet bills throughout your lifetime.
2. Extremely Shy or Aggressive
If you are looking at a pup at a pet store, watch how the puppy interacts. A dog’s behavior is a good indication of whether or not they have been socialized. Extremely shy puppies or one that is aggressive towards other dogs or people are likely unsocialized. In many cases, these pups are kept outside away from people and even their own mother until they are sent to the store for purchase. When you purchase a puppy mill dog, it will take weeks of socializing before it can become a well-adjusted family member.
3. Poor Health
Since many of these dogs come from breeders who have very little concern for the health of their animals, there is a good chance your puppy may have some health problems. Many of them have chronic illnesses such as mange or serious eye infections that should have been treated before being sold. Others have not been properly taken care of, so they may have intestinal parasites or even a serious heart murmur.
Irresponsible breeders do not run genetic tests or monitor their dog’s medical histories. This can lead to various hereditary issues that can be left uncaught. Degenerative Myelopathy and hip dysplasia are just a few mobility conditions that will appear when a dog is genetically tested.
4. Unexplained Seizures
Although epilepsy is fairly common in dogs, unexplained seizures are usually an indication that the dog was either exposed to poisons or suffered head trauma at some point during its life. These dogs should be examined by a vet immediately because many of them must be euthanized due to their severe injuries which can’t be fixed. Although this doesn’t mean every dog who has seizures will end up like this, it should at least put you on notice that something serious could happen if you purchase the dog without seeing a vet first. Inform yourself of the dangers of puppy mills and see what you can do.
It’s important to do your research when you are looking to purchase a new dog. If you find yourself in a situation where the price is too good to be true, and/or your new pup does not seem healthy and well, consider trying to help these puppies and shelter them from bad breeders.