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The Puppy Mill

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, puppy mill, I offer this definition. It's a mass dog breeding establishment that produces puppies for profit by selling them wholesale to the pet industry. Many puppy mills are characterized by overcrowding, filth, inadequate shelter, insufficient food, water and veterinary care. People who own and operate puppy mills don't do it because they care about dogs. They do it for the money. Puppies are their cash crop and nothing more.

I provided a foster home for twelve poodles after over 120 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill in southeast Ohio. Sadly, not all of the dogs were so fortunate. Some were already dead. Some were beyond help and had to be humanely euthanized. Many of those who did survive have congenital health problems. All were malnourished and many suffered with sarcoptic mange. Since the sarcoptic mange had been left untreated, many of the dogs were not only partially bald, but also had bleeding sores on their bodies due to a secondary staph infection. It took an enormous amount of time and money from the volunteers of a number of humane organizations to provide the proper care for these dogs.

GodivaA dog's life at a puppy mill is horrid. Godiva's experience is a good example. Until she came to live with me, Godiva spent eleven years living outside in a wire cage. When I first saw her, she was nearly hairless with open sores on her body. What few teeth she had left were so decayed she could barely eat. Her face was raw from engaging in her only form of exercise which was pacing back and forth in her small cage and rubbing her face on the wire. Her feet were raw and permanently splayed from all those years of constant contact with the wire bottom of her cage. Years of poor nutrition and confinement have caused her legs to become permanently bowed and malformed.

Godiva also suffered from congenital health issues including eye problems. In spite of this, she was forced to produce two litters of puppies a year for eleven years. Many of these puppies probably inherited some of Godiva's congenital health problems. Some of her puppies may well have been inbred, accounting for even more health problems. All these puppies were sold wholesale to pet stores, who in turn sold them to unsuspecting people looking for a pet.

After her rescue, a veterinary examination revealed that Godiva was pregnant with puppies large enough to be those of a standard poodle. Considering she was a seven pound toy poodle in poor health, Godiva never would have survived the pregnancy. Of course that would not have mattered to the puppy mill owner. The only thing that mattered was getting one more litter of pups out of this ill and aging dog. So the next time you see all those puppies at a pet store, you now know they all had mothers who lived like Godiva. I hope you'll think of her and decide not to support a puppy mill by purchasing a puppy.