Defining “Run of the Mill”

Last month, Facebook and the ASPCA worked together to put an end to ads for puppy mills on Facebook Marketplace. I wrote an article about it for Pet Pardons News, and while I was researching it, an interesting fact came to my attention.

The ASPCA commissioned a poll that found while most Americans have heard of puppy mills and say they wouldn’t buy a dog that came from one, most Americans also believe that the dogs in pet stores come from legitimate sources. Many people also mistakenly think that anti-puppy mill campaigns are about the puppies.

Think about the word mill for a minute. Two of the definitions of “mill” are

  1. A factory where something is  manufactured
  2. To grind, crush, or pulverize.

Warren Cty PA Puppy Mill
photo: Animal Rescue Corps

Warren County PA
photo: Animal Rescue Corps

Both of these definitions apply to the places referred to as puppy mills.  The purpose of a puppy mill is to produce as many puppies as possible, which are then sold to pet stores, and which are then, in turn, sold to consumers. Like any factory, the owner is in it to make money; which means spending as little as possible on overhead to make a maximum profit. There is a lot wrong with that picture.

The victims are not really the puppies. The puppies get out. They are loveable and cute and the lucky ones will end up in homes where people love them like a family member. But the puppies parents never get out. They live their lives out at the puppy mill in conditions that are no better than a concentration camp.

Spending as little as possible on overhead means that the breeding parents are kept in tiny cages. Sometimes multiple dogs are crammed into a single cage. A cage which has a wire floor so when the dogs urinate and defecate, it falls through the grate. Cages are often stacked on top of each other in overcrowded conditions, so the waste falls through to the cages below. The cages are only big enough to stand up, lie down and bear puppies, and they are unprotected from the heat, the cold and rain. The breeding parents aren’t groomed, are only minimally vetted (if at all), do not receive an ounce of attention or affection, and spend their entire lives in a tiny box where they have to stand on wire. They develop eye infections from the concentration of ammonia from the urine, sometimes to the point of blindness. Their feet become cut and infected from the wire. Sometimes they become so matted their fur catches in the wire and actually hold them to one spot. They never go for a walk, never get to run, never get to curl up in a clean warm bed. They never know the gentle touch of a caring hand. The females are bred every heat cycle so they will be pregnant as many times a year as physically possible – for their entire lives.

That’s where the second definition of mill comes in; because these dogs have their spirits and their bodies ground to dust.

A couple of posts back, I wrote about compassion being a great motivator. In that post I mentioned a scientific finding about dogs; that studies have shown that the average dog has the intellectual and emotional intelligence of a three-year-old child. I think that bears repeating – because these dogs kept as breeding parents, they’re not ‘things’. They are conscious living beings, and they know what is happening to them. Can you for one second, imagine their despair? Their hopelessness? Their loneliness? Their sadness?

A pet store puppy...

When a person goes into a pet store, and buys that cute puppy they have no idea what has been left behind. They have no idea of the suffering. That’s why it’s so important to cut off the demand for puppy mill puppies by not buying puppies in pet stores, and by not buying anything from a store that sells puppies; because as long as there is money to be made, the cycle will continue. There are an estimated 15,000 puppy mills in the U.S. that produce an estimated 4 million puppies per year.

The mother the pet store puppy left behind.

Now that you are armed with that information, what can you do? You do want to do something, don’t you?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t EVER buy a puppy from a pet store. There are puppies of all breeds in shelters across the country – all in danger of being killed because there aren’t enough homes. You never have to set foot in a shelter – you can find the dog you want online at Petfinders. It doesn’t even matter anymore if the puppy is in a shelter out of state, because there are groups of volunteers that will transport shelter dogs to anywhere in the US.
  • Spread the word! Share this blog with others, and if someone tells you they are thinking of getting a puppy, tell them why they shouldn’t buy one from a pet store.
  • Support groups like the HSUS and Animal Rescue Corps (ARC), who work to shut down puppy mills and rescue all of the dogs.
  • Support legislation to end puppy mills and dog auctions (which are trading venues for puppy millers) In Ohio, the group: Ohio Voters Against Puppy Mills and Dog Auctions has been working tirelessly on a ballot initiative to ban Ohio dog auctions. If there is similar legislation pending in your state, let your representatives know you support it.
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About yelodoggie

C.A.Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. She has written two books about her true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also writes a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and is a contributing editor for AnimalsVote.org. She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
This entry was posted in Animal Advocacy, The Woof on Animal Welfare Legislation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Defining “Run of the Mill”

  1. Mollie Morrissette says:

    Reblogged this on Poisoned Pets and commented:
    Can you imagine a three year old child spending their entire lives in a tiny box where they have to stand on wire. They develop eye infections from the concentration of ammonia from the urine, sometimes to the point of blindness. Their feet become cut and infected from the wire. Sometimes they become so matted their fur catches in the wire and actually hold them to one spot. They never go for a walk, never get to run, never get to curl up in a clean warm bed. They never know the gentle touch of a caring hand. The females are bred every heat cycle so they will be pregnant as many times a year as physically possible – for their entire lives. This is how a dog in a puppy mill lives, and dogs are as smart as a three year old child, so would you let a child live like that?

    Like

  2. Darbi Rash says:

    So so terribly sad and so preventable. We need to punish those who abuse these animals with stronger laws and make them stick. This is just wrong

    Like

  3. My Dad raised dogs. He sort of fell into it because he loved them. Back in the 70’s we had this state of the art kennel for his furry kith and kin. He didn’t let the Mom’s have more than one litter a year and he wanted to make sure the people who took his pups were appropriate to have them. I first learned about puppy mills from Dad because he started rescuing former breeding animals and building them homes where the could have love, comfort and care the rest of their lives. We sort of ended up as an old folks home for dogs that had been abused beyond belief.

    I found myself enraged by people who could do this to animals. As a young person I am lucky I never got my hands on any of them or I’d probably still be in jail. Because these sub-humans make good money at the trade the only way to deal with them is to make the penalties as high as dealing in crack cocaine or the like. I am all for confiscating all their goods and throwing them in jail for 20 years

    Like

  4. Christina says:

    You can do crap like this to poor innocent animals with no penalties, but if you happen to have a urine test that shows trace amounts of marijuana it follows you for the rest of your life keeping you from ever obtaining meaningful employment? (And no, I’m not speaking about my own experience, just those I know of).

    Like

  5. Cee says:

    There are several angles that need to be addressed. Animal rescue groups and shelters can help by getting more of their animals adopted. In some areas with comprehensive, well-run adoption programs, the stores have stopped selling puppies and kittens. About 17 million Americans are going to get a pet this year but haven’t yet decided where to get them from. By marketing rescued animals, it should be possible to get 3 or 4 million adopted instead of killed in shelters.

    Like

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