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Posts Tagged ‘pet stores’

New reasons not to buy a puppy from a pet store

August 11, 2013 22 comments

Puppy Wearing BowIf you’ve heard anything about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores, then you’ve also likely heard about the dangers of buying a puppy from a pet store.

Past studies and stories have shown that puppies purchased from pet stores are more likely to be sick, infested with parasites, and have physiological issues due to poor breeding and inbreeding – something you often see in puppy mill puppies.

Last week, I read an interesting new study that seems to further expound on the dangers of purchasing a puppy from a pet store. This new study focused not on the health of pet store puppies, but on the behavioral differences between dogs bought as puppies in pet stores and those brought from noncommercial breeders. The results were very interesting.

The study: Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders

Sample size:

  • Dogs obtained from pet stores – 413
  • Dogs obtained from a noncommercial breeder – 5,657

Tools used for study and analysis: C-BARQ (Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire)

Results Summary: Dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression towards human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs, had greater fear of other dogs and nonsocial stimuli and greater separation-related problems and house soiling issues.

More specifically, the results showed that pet store dogs were:

  • 3 times as likely to have owner-directed aggression (if sexually intact) as were sexually intact dogs acquired from breeder
  • nearly twice as likely to have dog-directed aggression (i.e., aggression towards unfamiliar dogs)
  • 30% to 60% more likely to have stranger-directed aggression, aggression towards other household dogs, fear of dogs, and nonsocial stimuli,  as well as separation-related problems and touch sensitivity.
  • somewhat more excitable, energetic, and attention-seeking
  • generally less trainable, if they did not participate in working or recreational activities
  • had a range of miscellaneous behavioral problems at significantly higher frequencies than did those acquired from breeders (e.g., escaping from the home, sexual mounting of people and objects, and most forms of house-soiling)

All credit given to the authors of “Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders

I doubt these latest results will stop people from buying that cute puppy in the pet shop window, but I hope it will, at the very least, give them pause to think. Caring for a sick puppy is one thing, but dealing with behavioral issues later? Maybe, just maybe, it’s worth reconsidering that purchase. One can only hope.

Puppy Mills: The Tide is Turning

July 22, 2013 21 comments

IMG_8860

In light of some recent disheartening puppy mill news…

Northern Minnesota authorities seize 131 dogs in animal-cruelty case

North Dakota owner of 170 seized dogs says he’s cooperating

Wheatland breeder petitions to regain custody of dogs seized by Cass deputies

Rescuers seize 169 dogs from alleged Missaukee County puppy mill

Seized dogs in alleged puppy mill being treated; suspect arrested

It’s encouraging to see some good news coming out of one of the states with the most puppy mills – Missouri.

In 2011, Missouri passed the  Canine Cruelty Prevention Act (CCPA), requiring puppy mill owners to provide better care, submit to veterinary inspections once a year, provide access to outdoor exercise areas for all their dogs and removal of kennels with wire flooring.

Despite legislative action to weaken the bill, which it did, and a lawsuit brought by  83 dog breeders, Missourians still managed to keep some major provisions that will now have the opportunity to impact puppy mills where it hurts – in the pocket-book. In fact, it already has begun.

  • The breeder lawsuit was withdrawn thus leaving the CCPA in a good position to move forward – My friend Sue over at Talking Dogs Blog provides some highlights from the breeder lawsuit and the testimony that likely led to it being withdrawn (you really must read it to understand how badly they underestimated their ability to sway public opinion). Mischief Monday: Missouri Puppy Mill Lawsuit Withdrawn

And in California, there’s more change. Several cities are taking the lead on banning puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores.

[San Diego] City Council votes unanimously to ban ‘puppy mill’ sales (Did you know San Diego is the 32nd city in North America to ban such sales?)

[Los Angeles] Ban on sale of puppies in L.A.

[Glendale] It’s unanimous: Glendale City Council to ban pet store sales of dogs and cats

Did you know San Diego is the 32nd city in North America to ban such sales? Here’s a full list of the cities choosing to ban pet sales in pet stores.

Even though Minnesota has yet to pass any bill regulating dog breeding operations (we have some of the largest puppy mills in the country), I am encouraged, because the tide is turning. It’s only a matter of time.

100 Problem Puppy Mills – Is your state on the list?

May 12, 2013 20 comments

Puppy mill kennelsLast Thursday the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) came out with their “Horrible Hundred” – one hundred puppy mills it feels need closer scrutiny by state and federal authorities (“A Horrible Hundred: 100 Problem Puppy Mills“).

These are not necessarily the worst puppy mills in the country, but they are indicative of many puppy mills who provide inadequate and substandard care. Most of these facilities have been repeatedly cited by federal and local officials and have at least 100 dogs or more, including one in Minnesota with 1,100 dogs. Yes. 1,100 breeding dogs.

Many, if not all, of these facilities sell their dogs at pet stores (and over the internet) all across the country. One of the four  puppy mills listed for Minnesota has been found to have sold dogs in pet stores in Michigan, Chicago, Ohio and California.

Want to see if any from your state are listed? Go here. 

You can read a more detailed report on each of these mills here

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

So which puppy mills were on the list from Minnesota?

Carole and Larry Harries/ Harries K-9 Ranch – Alpha, MN

Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) investigated the Harries back in 2007 and called out issues with the wire mesh flooring, which allowed the dogs legs to slip through. They also documented dirty kennels, dirty water dishes, matted fur on several dogs, feces build up and up to 5 dogs per kennel in several kennels.

Apparently, not much has changed since 2007. In February 2013, the Harries were cited for a repeat violation by USDA inspectors for several dogs in need of veterinary care, including a shih tzu whose teeth were so rotted that the inspector could see the roots of her teeth, and two dogs with excessive matting around the tail with feces matted into the fur. 

Ted Johnson / Funtime Kennels – Windom, MN

Ted appears to have a revolving door policy when it comes to his USDA licenses, often letting them lapse and then reapplying (maybe he couldn’t make it just selling over the internet or just trying to hide his business from people like me?). He has also had multiple violations at his kenneling facility.

Back in 2011, he was cited for failure to establish and maintain adequate veterinary care as is seen in this USDA inspection report.

In April 2013, USDA inspectors found two Maltese dogs his kennel that had such severe dental disease that they had lost most of their teeth. One of the dogs had only two teeth left, and one of her remaining two teeth “was loose and moved easily when touched.” The dog was seen “excessively licking its mouth with its tongue hanging out of its mouth most of the time,” according to the inspector. The USDA also noted that the ammonia (urine) smell in the facility “was strong enough to make the inspector’s eyes burn.” 

John & Lyle Renner/ Renner’s Kennel – Detroit Lakes, MN

Renner’s Kennels have been cited multiple times for violations. This is one from 2004:

“One kennel that houses three golden retrievers (199, 176, 175) has an area of kennel wire that has turned inside the cage and the ends are poking out towards the dogs in the cage. Another kennel housing three huskies (238, 184, ?) has a pipe end that protrudes to the inside of the kennel that appears that the end of the pipe is sharp and may cause injury to the dogs.”

The most recent set of violations were received in January 2013, when they were “fined more than $5,000 by the USDA for repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act regulations.” Previous violations documented on USDA inspection reports include “dogs kept in small cages without the minimum required space; lack of proper cleaning and sanitization, violations for dogs needing vet care, including a husky who could not bear weight on his leg, a dog with a missing eye and discharge, dogs with swollen/oozing paws (common in puppy mills with wire flooring), dogs without adequate protection from extreme temperatures, strong odors and accumulations of feces.” 

Wanda Kretzman / Clearwater Kennel Inc. – Cushing, MN (has 1,124 dogs as of February 2013)

According to Animal Folks MN, Wanda’s facility is THE LARGEST BREEDER/BROKER in MINNESOTA. She has over 1100 dogs and multiple violations covering several years, including violations for incomplete records, wire mesh floors that allow dogs’ feet to go through, not enough floor or head space in pens, and buildup of feces under kennels and in outdoor pens in 2006 (St Cloud Times, Mar 3, 2007) and violations in 2012 for seven dogs with bloody, inflamed and/or swollen feet, likely from straddling the painful wire flooring (HSUS, 100 Puppy Mills Report, May 2013).

Wanda’s puppy mill puppies have been sold in California, Chicago, Michigan and at dog auctions in Ohio. In an undercover video from the January 15, 2011 Farmerstown Dog Auction in Ohio, over 300 of the 504 dogs sold were from Clearwater Kennels (see the video below to learn more about dog auctions).

It’s hard not to see how this puppy mill ended up on the list is it?

puppymillsblack

Don’t see your state on the list? Chances are you will on a previous year’s report. HSUS has been highlighting some of these awful puppy mills for seven years now.

Want to stop puppy mills?

  • Share with your friends. Pick just one person and educate them on where pet store and internet puppies come from and then ask them to share with just one friend. Spread the word.
  • Send one tweet about puppy mills today.
  • Post one story on Facebook today about puppy mills and let people know where pet store and internet puppies come from.
  • Don’t buy puppies from pet stores or over the internet. Many puppy mills are turning to the internet to sell their dogs now because they are not required to have a USDA license nor are they subject to inspection.
  • Get active. Write your legislator and ask him/her to support a law to tighten the standards of care for puppy mills.

What you don’t see when you buy your puppy online

November 26, 2012 24 comments

Thanks to the media, celebrities, and numerous animal advocates, the message about pet stores, and the puppy mill dogs that supply them, is starting to reach people. More and more pet stores are being shut down or have stopped selling puppies. It’s encouraging to see the tides of change coming.

However, there is another front in the fight against puppy mills that people don’t often think about – the internet. 

The internet is a relatively new marketplace for puppy mill owners, but they love it.

  • It’s an easy way to sell their puppies. Create a website, tell a great story about how much you lovingly care for your puppies, post a few cute puppy pictures, and you’re in business.
  • It also increases a puppy miller’s profit margins – no middle man to take a cut of the profits. They just ship the puppy directly to you.
  • The other attractive feature in using the internet is that it’s safer than selling your puppies to pet stores. Online sellers of animals are not subject to  USDA inspections. No licensing. No inspections. It’s a relatively safe way to hide those skeletons while preying upon the unwitting puppy lover.

What most people don’t realize is that puppy millers are some of the best grifters out there. They know how to build trust, tug on your heart-strings, and reassure you they are on the up-and-up, all in one phone conversation or email exchange.

The sweet stories they are telling you online is not what’s really going on behind the scenes – animal cruelty, abuse, starvation, minimal, if any, medical care, and no socialization for the dogs.

Using the internet allows them to fool you into thinking they are a wonderful family who breeds dogs because they love them so much. Of course, they will be sure to let you know all of their breeding dogs are “family dogs” and live inside with them as a member of their family. How sweet. How could you not trust someone like that?

It’s so easy for them to fool people.

One example came to light recently that I thought was worth sharing.

Example: Pedigree Pets

Such a cute picture of a sweet little puppy isn’t it? Such a beautiful website. Simple, but how can you resist that puppy?
Pedigree Pets-1

What a sweet little family. You can tell they care so much for their dogs and puppies. It’s so sweet that their grandchildren play with the puppies. And, I love how they “deliver each and every one of the puppies themselves.” I wonder how they do it with such loving care?

Pedigree Pets-2

 

Oh wait. What happened here? A raid? 241 dogs seized? What happened to that nice little family with the grandchildren that loved to play with all their cute puppies? The puppies they personally delivered by hand?

Examiner article-Pedigree Pets

I know it’s hard to believe, but that cute little family story puppy millers put on their website is just that, a story. Or, as I like to say… B.S. According to the sheriff, veterinarians and the Ohio SPCA, the dogs were starving, had no water and were in bad shape. At least those are the allegations. The owners plead Not Guilty today, so we will have to wait to see how many of the 723 charges they will  be convicted on. I’ll leave you to check out the video of the raid on Pet-Abuse.com and make your own judgement.

Here is an excerpt of the story from Examiner.com:

Pedigree Pets was raided on Saturday, November 17, 2012 after an investigation by Deputy Cami Frey. Dogs and puppies were found living in horrid conditions and many were found to be ill, injured and emaciated. Several of the dogs had to be treated for wounds and infections.

The local sheriff that was involved in the raid on Pedigree Pets says it best…

“Online puppy mills are notorious for depicting their kennels as being wonderful places. In reality, they are massively breeding and housing dogs in cages and hutches for their entire lives”.

Don’t be fooled by those cute little websites featuring cute little puppies with fanciful stories of their wonderful families and family life. Buying a puppy online is just as bad as buying from a pet store.

Please Don’t Shop (not online or in a pet store), Adopt.

My sincere thanks to the Ohio SPCA for their hard work in saving these dogs and in seeing to their immediate care. Pedigree Pet’s breeding dogs, and their puppies, are now in the care of 22 wonderful Ohio rescues. The money it costs to care for all these dogs is not a minimal amount. Many puppy mill dogs are sick, undernourished, full of worms and have eye and dental issues. This case is no different. I am listing all of the rescues here. If you an donate to help with the care for these puppy mill dogs, please do so. It takes a village to help these dogs. One dollar is more than nothing. Please give what you can.

Peace for Paws (on Facebook)

Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue (on Facebook)

WolfSpirits Toy Breed Puppy Mill Rescue (on Facebook)

Chihuahua Rescue and Transport (on Facebook)

Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League (on Facebook)

Dachshund Rescue of Ohio

Great Lakes Westie Rescue (on Facebook)

Star-Mar Rescue

SICSA (Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals)

Columbus Cockers (on Facebook)

Central Ohio Dog Rescue League (on Facebook)

Marilyn’s Voice (on Facebook)

Paws Ohio (on Facebook)

Stormy’s Place (on Facebook)

Lost and Found K9 Rescue (on Facebook)

Thirdtyme Rescue (on Facebook)

Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue (on Facebook)

Measles Animal Haven (on Facebook)

Silky Rescue (on Facebook)

Lucky Star (on Facebook)

Colony Cats (on Facebook)

Ohio Basset Rescue (on Facebook)

Permission to share this photo was granted by the Ohio SPCA.

Puppy Mills: Do you know what size cage would your dog live in? I do.

October 1, 2012 25 comments

I was all set to write about Puppy Mill Awareness Day on Sunday, but I was still mulling over some information I had learned from a link someone sent me. The link,  “According to the USDA, how much room does a puppy mill dog need?”, is to a page on the website for Animal Ark Shelter.

It’s a page that allows you to calculate the minimum amount of cage/kennel space your dog would need to meet the minimum USDA standards for licensed USDA breeders (i.e., puppy millers).  With just one number –  your dog’s measured length in inches, you can see what size cage your dog would live in if it were living in a puppy mill.

Keep in mind that this is the size cage your dog would live in for its whole life, as it bred litter after litter of puppies, puppies that are then sold in pet stores, and over the internet.

Having two former breeder dogs, both from puppy mills, I was more than interested to learn what the USDA deems as adequate housing (in this case, kennel space or cage size) for a dog owned by a USDA licensed puppy mill owner.

I measured Lady first. Using the visual guideline on the Animal Ark page, I measured her from nose to butt  – 32 inches. I then put the number into the calculator on their page and hit the Return key. Immediately, I got back the following information:

Lady = 32 inches

According to USDA regulations, she could live in a cage measuring   3.17 feet by 3.17 feet (or 38 inches by 38 inches), or 10 square feet of cage space. (For those who use the metric system, that is .96 meters by .96 meters.)

Next, I measured Daisy. She is approximately 37 inches in length.

Daisy = 37 inches

According to USDA regulations, Daisy could live in a cage measuring 3.58 feet by 3.58 feet (or 43 inches by 43 inches), or 12.84 square feet of cage space. (For those who use the metric system, that is 1.09 by 1.09 meters.)

What struck me first was the number of extra inches the USDA afforded Lady and Daisy (beyond their own body length in inches). The number was the same for each – 6 inches. That’s it. As puppy mill breeding dogs, Lady and Daisy were only required to have 6 extra inches in length and width, beyond their own actual body length. Wow. Can you imagine your dog living its whole life with 6 inches to spare on either side? I can’t.

In addition to that fact, the page also tells you that dogs in USDA licensed puppy mills are only required to have six inches of head room in their cages. Double wow.  So, dogs get 6 extra inches of head room and 6 extra inches in which to turn around in. How could anyone not think that was cruel? Add in the wire flooring that almost all puppy mill dogs stand on, and live on, for their WHOLE lives and you just have to wonder why anyone would want to support an industry like this. And yet, in the United States we do support it  – every single day.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day was created to educate people about the horrors of puppy mills. This post might seem like such a small piece of that bigger message we are trying to get out, but I hope it does one thing for those who read it. I hope it creates a visual of what life is like for those dogs sitting in puppy mill cages with 6 inches to spare.

Every puppy someone buys in a pet store is a vote to support puppy mills.

Every puppy someone purchases over the internet is a vote to support puppy mills.

Every decision made to buy a puppy from one of these places is supporting a cruel practice of keeping dogs in cages, with wire bottoms, and six inches to spare.

Please note: Many mill owners like to tout their USDA license with unsuspecting buyers to give them an air of legitimacy. Don’t buy it. “USDA licensed” does not equal “responsible breeder”. Having a USDA license only means the puppy miller is required to meet certain minimum care standards. Puppy millers who sell over the internet do not have to be USDA-licensed (as of today). They are not subject to any minimum care standards at all. This is why we are seeing more and more puppy millers moving their business to an internet-based one. As sellers of puppies over the internet, puppy millers are not subject to USDA inspection, nor do they have to follow any minimum care instructions when it comes to their dogs. Don’t buy over the internet.

Lady – Puppy mill survivor (cage space: 38 inches)

Daisy – Puppy mill survivor (cage size: 43 inches)

The biggest lie pet stores tell you

August 5, 2012 18 comments

The first time I saw Jasper (and his sister) it was in the impound room at our local shelter in Burnsville. I was immediately taken with both of them. They were so adorable!

It was pretty unusual to see a Sheltie at our shelter back then. Not that we didn’t get one in once in a while, but it just wasn’t common. The fact that these two were 8 1/2 months old was even more unusual. Sheltie puppies? No way!

Of course, I didn’t know then how they had come to be there. Not until much later. They had both been “rescued” along with a cat from a pet store in Shakopee. The woman who bought them did so because she was so appalled by the conditions they were in that she couldn’t stand leaving them there. She offered the store owner a low sum of money for both Jasper and Jasmine and a cat, and he took it.

She immediately brought them to our shelter so they could receive treatment and be adopted. I wrote about fostering them in a post back in March 2009.

The reason I share this story with you is to back up a point made in a great blog post I read a while back. It was titled “What Happens to the Puppies?”  In it, Brenda Nelson (the blogger) explored the common myths people have about what happens to pet store puppies.

She starts her post by saying You may have asked yourself “What happens when Pet Stores do not sell the puppies?”, I am going to tell you the true answer, but first let me tell you the wrong answer.

If you haven’t already guessed by that great opening statement, let me tell you now, pet store puppies are not euthanized if no one buys them. They are also not shipped back to the “breeder” (and I use that term loosely). They are not dumped somewhere and left to fend for themselves either.

No. Puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores are left in the pet store window until they sell. Or they are shipped to another store where they may have a better chance of being sold. And there they will sit, waiting for that one person, that special someone, who wants to “save” them.

You see, pet stores rely on people to feel guilty. They rely on someone thinking “If I don’t take this puppy, it will be killed.” They rely on someone falling in love with the puppy before they find out that it is sick and will need expensive medical care. They want you to feel sympathy for that puppy in the window. They want you to feel like you are rescuing the puppy. Because by making the person feel like (the) pets’ life is in danger, pet stores force the person to make a rash decision, “Buy the puppy.”.

This is how puppy mill puppies are sold every day in America’s pet stores. It’s all about lies and fostering misperceptions. Pet stores who sell puppy mill puppies (and 99% of the puppies in pet stores ARE from puppy mills) will do and say anything to get you to buy that puppy in the window. Why? Because they know that once you buy it, you won’t be bringing it back, sick or not sick.

As I told you at the beginning of this piece, Jasper and Jasmine were 8 1/2 months old when I got them. They were puppies, but not young puppies. If they were like most puppy mill puppies, they were probably shipped to this particular pet store at 6-8 weeks old and then sat there for 6-6 1/2 months, waiting for someone to “rescue” them. And, someone did.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad she saved Jasper, his sister and the cat. They were living in horrible conditions in that pet store.

But, to Brenda’s point, they were not euthanized. They were not returned to the puppy mill owner. They were not dumped somewhere.

No. They were sold at a discounted price to someone willing to buy them to “save” them.

Please don’t buy into the guilt-fest that pet stores give you. Don’t buy a puppy from a pet store and thus force the parents to continue to live a life of torture, neglect and pain. Don’t help perpetuate the puppy mill trade.

Want to rescue a puppy? Adopt. Those are the ones who really WILL BE euthanized if you don’t “rescue” them.

How has your pet motivated you?

July 8, 2012 25 comments

The other day I saw this picture and immediately thought, “I wonder how much this dog has changed the lives of those who adopted him?”

Do you remember Daniel’s story?

Daniel was the dog who went into a gas chamber in Alabama and was still standing with his tail wagging when they opened the door. Because he survived the gas chamber he was given a chance at life. He was transported by Pilots N Paws to a rescue in New Jersey.

What a long way he has come since that story first hit the internet. Daniel now has a new family in New Jersey and several sisters and brothers to play with. He is also working to end the use of gas chambers to kill animals in the United States.

Who could have ever guessed that his survival would lead to such a wonderful ending? Or that it would motivate his owner, and others, to take action?

Daniel’s story made me realize how much my own dogs have changed my life.

When I chose to adopt Daisy, my Lab, I did it to protect her. I didn’t want her to go to a home or family that might not understand her special needs. Even with my limited skills and knowledge, I knew I could provide her with a better home than someone who had never had a dog before or who had never had a shy and fearful dog.

Never once did I think adopting Daisy would lead me to get educated about puppy mills or to share that knowledge with others. I never expected sharing Daisy’s story might help others with puppy mill dogs. She has changed my life and what is important to me. She motivated me to get involved.

Daisy enjoying some pool time – something she never would have experienced in the puppy mill she came from

Knowing Jasper came from similar circumstances only made me more motivated to learn more about the connection between the pet stores who sell puppies and the puppy mills that provide them. (Yes. 99% of all pet store puppies really do come from puppy mills.)

Lady changed my life too. Losing her for 12 days not only taught the importance of giving back and helping others (because lord knows I received an amazing amount off help and support while she was missing), but it also motivated me to want to share what I learned with others. Without Lady, I never would have gotten involved in helping people find their lost pets or sharing their missing pets’ pictures and stories with others.

I don’t know if you have had the same experience, but having Daisy, Jasper and Lady in my life has changed me. They have given me causes to rally around. They have motivated me to get involved in ways I never expected.

So I was wondering… How has your pet changed or motivated you? What have you done or gotten involved in as a result of your pet? I’d love to hear your story.

Lady hanging out at the dog park – back home safe

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