Beary: Do you know where your puppy comes from?


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Imagine the inside of an old semi trailer fully refurnished with metal crates from wall to wall for female dogs to spend the rest of their days reproducing. With the wire flooring in the kennels, it makes it easy for the dogs’ feces to simply fall through the holes and rain down on the dogs underneath them. Not to mention what happens to the dogs that become too old and no longer can reproduce. The best-case scenario is that those dogs become strays and have a chance of finding an owner. Welcome to the puppy mills.

Iowa has worked its way to being ranked as the No. 2 state with the most puppy mills, following Missouri. Some believe that the state’s high ranking is because of Iowa’s large agriculture interest, but mostly it is because Iowa does not have as strict humane-animal-treatment laws as other states do.

There is no set description of what a puppy mill looks like because they come in all different colors. If you are curious about whether the place you’re buying a puppy from is a mill or not, ask to see the mother and where the puppy was born. If they say no to these requests, a red flag should be raised. Puppy mills are usually very unsanitary and lack proper veterinarian care.

Puppy mills sell freshly weaned pups, as young as 6 weeks old, to a broker who then sells to the highest bidder, either to sellers on the Internet or in most cases to brokers who sell the puppies to certain pet stores.

Now, don’t fool yourself; these places are no better than these puppy mills. When you walk into those types of stores, what do you see? Three or four puppies in the same small box sharing the same area day in and day out. They sleep in the same type of kennels that they did at the mills; the only hope for them is that someone thinks they are cute and saves them from the cruelty.

I am not saying that all dog breeders are the same by any means. The two different types of dog breeding licenses are very different. USDA licensees sell puppies wholesale through brokers, who then sell the puppies to distributors or pet stores. Iowa-licensed commercial breeders sell their puppies to the public through ads, Internet, etc.

USDA-licensed breeders can sell their animals nationwide to any kind of buyer interested. Those with state licenses can only sell in state, and they have a limit of dogs they breed, usually keeping their breeding dogs as household pets. Pet stores have a USDA license and more times than not, they are getting the animals from brokers all across the nation.

There are in fact breeders who care immensely about their puppies and where they end up. Some breeders have their buyers sign a contract ensuring proper care of the animals. The one way to take matters into your own hands is to know where your animals are coming from. If no one purchases from the stores that have animals from mills, they will have no other choice than to close their doors.

The sad truth is that there are dogs out there being used only to produce litters after litters of puppies. No animal deserves to be treated like this. However, not one person can make the change. As long as people are buying puppies from pet stores, puppy mills will continue to thrive. So the real question is, do you know where your puppy is from?

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