Puppy mills run rampant through the United States. This unfortunate establishment has sparked many business ventures across the country, and people are unknowingly receiving puppies who will live a life full of repercussions of growing up in a puppy mill.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, as of January 2013 there are 10,000 known puppy mills in the U.S. Within this category, there are licensed and unlicensed breeding facilities. Some licensed breeding facilities care about the general welfare of their animals, they make sure to take them to the vet for regular check ups, and they choose not to breed the animals at every possible opportunity. Then there are facilities that frankly, practice animal cruelty on a daily basis. They breed females every 6 months (or every time they come into heat) and they keep their puppies stacked in cages and crammed together.
The misconception behind these facilities, is that when the puppies leave, they are past the hard part. This couldn’t be more false. Due to the unnatural environments these puppy mills provide and the genetic inbreeding of many puppies, they have only begun the long journey that will be their recovery.
To illustrate a very specific example, I want to tell you about a Golden Retriever named Rufus. My friend and former co-worker Beth Long, adopted Rufus when he was 6 months old. At the time, she was working for a veterinarian in Fremont, California who spent a lot of time working toward eliminating puppy mills in our state. Beth already had her precious Fanny, a Golden Retriever, and Mollie her Collie, when she was contacted about adopting Rufus.
Beth was fully aware that Rufus came from a puppy mill, and it was very quickly discovered that Rufus was born without hip sockets. That’s right,…no hip sockets. Rufus had to undergo multiple surgeries as a young pup in order to correct his genetic predisposition. The rescue was able to help Beth with the cost of surgery, but this was only the first of many issues Rufus would face due to his hard upbringing. He later would suffer from raging allergy issues, and dog aggression. Beth believes that his very un-Golden Retriever behavior (dog aggression) is a result of her not being able to socialize him at a young age due to his many hip surgeries. Below are some before and after X-ray’s of Rufus’ hips.
These days Rufus enjoys being at home with his sister Fanny, and taking strolls in the park, but both his mom and I would like to see puppy mills put to an end. So please share Rufus’ story with as many people as possible. Many people don’t realize that when they order a puppy on a website, the puppy may be coming from one of the many puppy mills, further perpetuating this vicious cycle.