The ASPCA and Humane Society estimate that at least 90% of all the puppies sold in PET STORES come from puppy mills. About one-third of those come from Missouri. Missouri breeders transport over 12,000 puppies out of state each month. That is more than 144,000 puppies each year!
The puppies that survive the transport are the lucky ones. They at least have a chance for a life...provided that they don't have any diseases or social problems from their beginnings in a puppy mill.
The unlucky dogs are the ones that have to remain in Missouri's breeding facilities. Missouri has an estimated 800 to 1,000 commercial breeding facilities. No one is sure of the exact number because some facilities operate without a license. Many of these facilities have between 150 and 250 (some mills have 1,000 to 2,000) breeding dogs. If we assume that only 500 of these facilities are "mills" and if we assume that each of these mills only has 100 dogs, that means that 50,000 dogs are in desperate situations.
Among these dogs, the most tragic are the bitches. They are bred at their first heat cycle, usually around a year old. After that, they are bred twice a year until they can no longer produce. At this rate, most of the bitches cannot produce beyond eight or ten years. When they can no longer produce, they are destroyed.
Many of the mill dogs spend their entire lives in a wire cage. For a Westie sized dog, that cage can be as small as 2 feet by 3 feet. The cage must be six inches taller than the dog. That is all the law requires. Now, look at your dog's sleeping crate. Most medium crates are only slightly smaller than the Federal regulations. Picture your dog spending eight or ten years in his or her crate.
Now, think about harsh weather conditions. Missouri can be nasty in the winter and hot in the summer. Add poor nutrition, lack of exercise, fleas, ear infections, overgrown toenails, sore feet, bites from cage mates and no love.
It is pretty hopeless. The only chance these dogs have is to be auctioned off to a better situation, if there is one. At least 200 dogs are auctioned off every month in Missouri. In some months those numbers can go up to 4, 5, or 600. Almost all of these dogs go to other millers.
There is no independent "shelter" for puppy mill dogs. All rescues are taken into private homes, treated and placed with adoptive parents. This is not significantly different than the situation in many states. However, Missouri has a slight twist. In Missouri, foster homes must be licensed by the state as "animal shelters". In effect, we are more closely regulated than the commercial breeding facilities because no foster home is capable of handling more than one or two dogs at a time. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But, the practical effect of this law is to prevent would-be foster parents from taking rescue dogs. No one wants to open their home to state inspectors.
If you know of anyone who is considering purchasing a pet store puppy, please tell them our story.
Please visit The Humane Society of the United States for more information and videos on Puppy Mills.
A Mill Dog's Lament
I lie here waiting unsure of the reason why,
for no one knows I'm hungry no one hears my cries.
I lie here waiting beneath the sun and moon, and wonder
yes I wonder if my rescue will come soon.
I lie here waiting in the snow and rain, cages upon
cages filled with so much pain.
I lie here waiting wondering where they've gone, my puppies taken yesterday while I'm left here on this 'farm'.
I lie here waiting in this caged up world, man's best friend
they tell me oh how terribly cruel.
I lie here waiting one by one they die, as I lie here waiting
wondering why can't I.
Written by: Angela Jamison '03
What happens to all the cute puppies?
For every human born, 7 puppies and kittens are born. One female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in 7 years. One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in 6 years. More than 12 MILLION dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year. Millions more are abandoned in rural and urban areas. As many as 25% of dogs entering shelters each year are purebreds. Approximately 61% of all dogs entering shelters are killed. Approximately 75% of all cats entering shelters are killed. It costs approximately $100 to capture, house, feed, and eventually kill each stray animal -- a cost which you, the taxpayer, eventually pay.
(Doris Day Adoption League)