Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 9 June 2008 Issue
My Life As a Breeder Dog
I was born in what I hear humans call a "puppy mill." I am a small, brown and white female Lhasa Apso. My brothers and sisters all left this place but for some reason, I was left behind. I heard one human say "this one will be a breeder."
No one ever comes to let me out of this very small cage that I live in all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am surrounded by many, many cages filled with other dogs and puppies who constantly bark to be let out. The smell of feces and urine is in the air all the time. In the winter it is bitter, bitter cold and I long to be by something warm as I shiver endlessly hour after hour. Sometimes I have even seen other dogs stop moving forever. Someone says they froze to death. The only warmth I remember was my mommy but she was taken away from me.
In the summer sometimes it is so very hot here that I can't even breathe. The heat makes the awful smells so much worse and draws flies and bugs that bite me. Sometimes my skin has open sores and it really hurts when I get bitten and I can't even get away from them! There is nothing to cool me off from the awful heat.
One day a man comes carrying a steel rod. I hear him say, "I just can't stand this damn barking anymore." To my horror, the man grabs a little dog and he shoves the rod down the little dog's throat as the dog squeals. He goes on to the next cage and grabs the next dog and does the same thing. More cries from the fear and pain are heard. He grabs a third but this time something goes wrong. There is a lot of blood and he says "Damn, I missed the vocal chords." There is much blood and this dog is in even more agony. Where's the vet? Where's the pain killers at least? Why is he being so cruel?
I cower in fear and try to stay in the corner so he can't see me but he finds me. Then I understand what unspeakable pain, cruelty and horror are like. I try to fight back but I am so little and the man is so big. I survived my attack but I am in pain for many days. I try to bark but now I make funny sounds instead--I can't be a dog anymore as God intended me to. Any trust for humans I may have had is gone and so is much of my ability to communicate or to sound the alert for danger. Something has been taken from me.
At a very young age I become a mother to pups. My puppies were removed too soon. Very, very soon I was again bred and had more puppies. They were taken away too. I am glad that at least they got to leave this horrible place where I suffer every day. I am bred often but never am I allowed to leave this tiny place where I live. I sometimes run in circles furiously, claw at the cage, lick my skin raw--anything to relieve the unspeakable boredom and horror of my life. A visitor says "this is like a concentration camp for dogs." I don't know what she meant but I only know that I would give anything to leave here.
Some of the other dogs are sick or need medical help but no one helps them. Why not? How can these humans be so mean to us? What did we ever do to them?
If only I could feel the touch of a kind hand petting me. If only I could know what it is like to romp in the lush, green grass or chase a ball with a child. If only I could look up at the sky and feel the warm, healing sun on my back. If only I could play in a child's pool or swim at the lake. If only I had someone to love me who would take me to the vet when I am ill or hurt. If only I was a member of someone's family so that I felt like my life mattered. Instead I am a "puppy mill breeder dog." I am destined to a life of subservience and misery until the day I die because I was born female--a victim of a form of canine sexual discrimination. Even male breeders sometimes get out of here. The sweet liberty of death cannot come fast enough to me and then maybe, finally, I will know peace.
Author's Note: The above is a fictional account obviously but also a compilation of some of the things that have been known to happen in some of the mass dog breeding facilities called puppy mills.
A special thank you to Oprah for bringing the horrors of puppy mills to the American public and the world recently on her TV show. If you missed her show it can be downloaded at:
http://www.coalitionagainstmisery.com/Puppymills.html or Download Oprah show - mill dogs
What Will It Take to Put an End to Puppy Mills?
Several things must happen:
1. Legislation passed
We must NEVER give up working to get this done! You can educate people all you want but there are some people who just don't care about what they buy or where it comes from or how much suffering was caused to be able to obtain this "product." They don't care that every time they fork over big bucks for a pet store puppy it keeps the lucrative mills in business.
2. We need farm bureaus to divorce themselves from puppy mills and any other domestic pet "business."
If farm bureaus are smart, they will realize that, right or wrong, some people care a lot more for pets than they do cows or chickens. We have personal relationships with dogs and cats and other domestic animals like horses. Unfortunately somewhere along the way any business who makes a profit from what most people consider "pets" got lumped in with animals who many people consider "food." When farm bureaus come to the defense of places like puppy mills and then there is a horrible bust of a mill and we read about it, doesn't that give farm bureaus a really bad image?
As an advocate for all animals, including those animals who many consider to be "food," I care about farm animals too. I am just saying that politically speaking it would be smart if farm bureaus distanced themselves from those exploiting and/or harming pets because, right or wrong, our society places a higher value on animals considered to be pets than those they put on a bun and eat. Every time a farm bureau gets involved in a pet issue, I believe they lose the respect of the general public who cares about all the Fluffys out there as well as the dogs who help law enforcement, lead the blind, etc. We are talking about "man's best friend" here.
3. American Kennel Club - TIME TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE--Actions Speak Louder Than Words!
The AKC, to many, is a respected purebred dog organization steeped in respect and tradition. They have some merit in that they teach responsible dog ownership, etc. They educate people to purchase dogs only from RESPONSIBLE breeders. "Responsible" breeders never sell to pet stores because they want to know that their dogs are going to good homes only. So if the AKC is telling people to buy from only responsible breeders, why do they then turn around and certify dogs born in puppy mills? Rather hypocritical, isn't it?
Unfortunately if you talk the talk you have to walk the walk, AKC. Telling people to buy from responsible breeders, in an effort to distance yourself from the puppy mills doesn't fly with me since those puppies would not command high prices without the AKC's stamp of approval. The AKC certification is why people buy the puppies because of the "high class" reputation of the AKC to begin with! Even if there is no overt cruelty or neglect going on at all the mills, breeding only for profit is unconscionable because it does not have the best interest of the dog in mind (not to mention the millions of homeless pets destroyed every year in shelters). The AKC bears some responsibility for the puppy mill problem because OF THE AKC CERTIFICATION OF THE MILL DOGS. Right or wrong, the AKC certification implies all kinds of things--good health, good background, pure of breed, etc. (Please read my related article about my beloved Mookiee and Kneesaa, my own mill dogs: http://www.all-creatures.org/aip/nl-28jul2002-paw.html or click on Mookiee and Kneesaa
I find it reprehensible that an organization that is supposed to be about promoting dogs and responsible dog ownership, cares so little about doing something about its own dirty little secret.
AKC Advertisement in Parade Magazine, 5/4/08, Page 11
It shows a young person's face being licked by a white fluffy dog. It reads: "We feel the same way." A few other highlights: "Because we fell this way about dogs, we want to do everything we can for them." It says to "...insist on AKC registration papers with your puppy." Also, "That's why we're always fighting for fair canine legislation." The bottom says: "We're more than champion dogs. We're the dog's champion."
Is it a coincidence this advertisement was out shortly after Oprah's show?
This advertisement made me just a bit upset to say the least. What a farce! What hypocrisy!! If the AKC was indeed the "dog's champion," it would stop giving the mill dogs AKC certification.
4. Please boycott AKC products
I have found AKC pet toys and other pet products in stores. Thanks, AKC, I'll pass.
Genetic Mutations in Mill Dogs
One very disturbing piece of information I saw on a show about dogs recently and verified by several vets I spoke to, is that puppy mills are actually causing GENETIC MUTATIONS to occur in dogs. What happens then to the health of these dogs or what if people choose to ignorantly breed them?
I found a quote from a General Thomas C. Clark in Webster's Quotation Dictionary that reads: "We find greedy men, blind with the lust for money, trafficking in human misery." I think the same can be said for those who traffic in the misery of our beloved dogs and puppies. I am speaking out on this issue again in honor of the memory of our beloved Mookiee and Kneesaa.
Last Chance for Animals on puppymills:
LCA - puppy mills or http://www.banpuppymills.com/
Hearts United for Animals (look at the many faces they have rescued from mills, day after day, year after year--how many more millions of dogs have to suffer?): Hearts United for Animals HUA - Puppy Mill update or
http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer or American Humane: Protecting Children and Animals Since 1877
Pawprints, Footprints & Animal Chatter are my opinion (editorials) on mostly animal issues. If I don't respond to your email, please re-email me! Please be sure to indicate in subject line that it is about my article so I don't delete as spam.)
Staff: Animals in Print (free online animal publication)
"We exist to educate and through compassion and knowledge improve the lives of all beings."
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