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

October 1, 2012 26 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)

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