puppy mills puppy store Washington City
Photo: Dineshraj Goomany / CC BY-SA 2.0

“Come on, you old hag.”

Darkness flooded the space as a man pulled the rickety door shut. Benny peered outside his wired cage, awakened by the sound of his mother leaving with the man. His fluffy white fur was covered in fecal matter, tics, and fleas. The nails of his back paw were grown out and wrapped the bottom of his cage, restraining him from movement.

Through the stacked, rotting wood of a makeshift barn, he could see a sliver of light. He whimpered at his dream: fresh  grass, streaming ponds, and playing with his mother. Stacked above, below, and to the sides of him are dozens of other puppies with similar dreams.

Muffled shouting, splashing, and yipping erupted outside the barn, perking Benny’s matted ears.

“Get in the damn water, you mutt!” the man demanded with eerie laughter.

The splashes and yips eventually ceased, leaving Benny to wonder when his mom would be back for him.

So what is a puppy mill? Think torture, isolation, disease, and death. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that 10,000 active puppy mills are hidden within the United States. Commercial puppy mills make an ideal amount of money for the breeder as they sell puppies to pet stores and through ads online.

With no legal oversight of proper breeding requirements and regulations, puppy mills can operate under the sole interest of profit, ignoring basic care for the puppies and their parents like adequate food, water, space, play time, and veterinary visits.

At a puppy mill, puppies are generally born and weaned from their mothers and quickly sentenced to life in a wired cage or boarded box until they are sold to pet stores. They endure weather conditions of extreme heat or bitter cold while rarely — if ever — leaving their cages. Mothers are bred with little to no recovery time in between litters and disposed of when they can no longer produce puppies. Shooting, drowning, and beating are among the most common means of disposal.

Many puppies end up suffering with diseases or infirmities ranging from parasites to pneumonia. Little thought goes into the quality of the breed of puppy, making inbreeding quite common. This creates more health issues and congenital and hereditary conditions including heart disease and respiratory disorders.

Sadly, there is technically no legal definition of a “puppy mill,” so it isn’t hard for pet stores to show fraudulent papers stating that their puppies came from a reputable breeder. Try asking for the location of the breeder or the puppy’s parents — it won’t happen. It’s easy to enter a pet store and see adorable, eight-week-old puppies, but where is your money going?

—To impregnate more female dogs until they can no longer stand and are quickly disposed of.

—To start a puppy’s life in a cage infested with bugs and fecal matter.

—To end a puppy’s life when they die in the cage from disease, starvation, or trauma.

—To disreputable breeders who don’t give once ounce of care to the well being of animals.

puppy mills puppy store Washington City
Me and my rescue, Holly

What can one do to end and expose puppy mills?

—Visit the Southern Utah Animal Alliance Facebook page for updates on ways to expose The Puppy Store  in Washington City.

—Volunteer and support local St. George animals shelters.

—Boycott any pet store that sells animals.

—Pledge to stop puppy mills on the Humane Society of the United States website.

—Show off your awesome rescue and how he or she changed your life.

Adopt, don’t shop.

Articles related to “Death mills”

Susie’s story

Letter to the Editor: At pet stores like Fur de Leash, think twice before you buy

Puppy Mills and St. George

The Washington County Animal Shelter: $2 million to feel better about killing animals?

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