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Who here has heard of puppy mills? They are all over local and national news and it’s never in a positive light. CBSnews.com recently reported on a puppy mill in Dallas, TX where inspectors found nursing mothers in small plastic crates in a closet, other dogs confined to feces-filled containments and deceased dogs in a freezer.
This recent story in the Des Moines Register shares the news that Iowa has 10 of the worst 100 puppy mills in the nation according to the Humane Society of the United States’ report, The Horrible Hundred.
Enforced by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and APHIS (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services), the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 is the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. You can go to the website and read all about it if you have a solid 10 hours to dive in. Suffice it to say that there are rules and regs to this “breeding dogs for dollars” gig and not everyone is playing by the rules with these precious pups.
The Horrible Hundred report mentioned above has been compiled by the Humane Society of the United States annually since 2013. In its sixth year of reporting, this report reviews inspection findings from APHIS at licensed kennels across the country. Got that? ONLY LICENSED KENNELS are included in the report. That’s those breeders who know the regulations, applied for the license and are in violation. This doesn’t include any of the non-licensed breeders. This year, Missouri maintains its 6-year run and takes top dishonor with 23 puppy mills followed by Ohio with 13 and Iowa with 10.
How would you know? The USDA is concerned about the breeders’ privacy and releasing only partial information about the offending kennels or their owners, making it more difficult to determine if the puppy you are considering is from a healthy environment, free from any illnesses or future troubles related to that environment. You can hop over to their website and attempt a search by location; but you should know that unless you know the business name and/or breeder’s name, all you get is reports with a bunch of redacted information that look like this:
Most dogs sold online, in pet stores or at flea markets come from these bad environments and you most likely will not get the breeder’s name and contact information from these resellers.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. What about the Freedom of Information Act? Don’t they have to provide this information? They sure do. In order for you to get the details on a particular breeder, the USDA now requires the inquiry to be made in writing and, after a several month delay in many cases, the inquiring party still receives a report with the breeders name, license number and a great deal of other information redacted.
Not only has the USDA redacted information in their reporting, but they have also not revoked one license since the 2017 report was published. Not one. If violations are found, many times repeatedly, then why would a breeder be allowed to continue to neglect or harm animals in their care? It just doesn’t make sense to us.
We want to say that not all breeders are bad. Many reputable breeders know the breeds with which they work, understand and provide for their needs for food, water, space, veterinary care, exercise, socialization and human contact. There are licensed and unlicensed breeders all doing the right things. It’s the dark side of this industry with which we have a problem. We will talk more about this in upcoming blogs as the whole fire under us started when we first talked with Andrew Wilson, Director of Development for the National Mill Dog Rescue organization. Get to their website. Read Lily’s story and we will talk more next time. Heads-up: we will begin featuring on Facebook and Twitter some of their dogs who have been rescued from puppy mills, brought back to health and are ready for their forever families. Keep an eye out for your next best friend! Oh, and if you wish to donate to their amazing cause, (you probably will after checking out their website) it’s easy peasy. See ya around the dog park.