Choosing the right puppy
More often than not, my blog ideas are usually brought up by a real life situation. This one is not an exception.
Molly was a sweet puppy adopted by my lovely clients, Nadia and Will. They are one of those clients who I want to live with if I come back as a dog. She and her husband Will were thrilled about getting a puppy and hoped to make Molly happy and healthy for the years to come. Part of the plan was Molly’s visit at my office.
Nadia was told that the breeder was the sellers mom, who couldn’t come to meet Nadia. However, she swore that the puppy had been de-wormed, vaccinated, socialized and got free run to play with others.
As soon as I have heard the story of “the breeder was my mother who could not attend” I became suspicious that Molly was a puppy mill puppy. It was obvious that some of her baby teeth had not even erupted. Her tummy looked like a little inflatable balloon and her hind legs were weak and twisted in a awkward shape. She could barely walk.
What do I do now, I thought. Nadia was in love with Molly and ultimately, it was not Molly’s fault that she was a product of a puppy mill and human greed. I could see that Nadia was very upset and all I could do was to say that “we all make mistakes and that all we can do is to learn from them and accept our imperfections.”
The reality was that Molly was about 5 weeks old, full of parasites and had most likely spent the first part of her life locked up in a cage with her mother and siblings. Molly is one of hundred’s of thousands of puppy mill pets.
Blog writing is my way of overcoming the familiar: “ This problem is too big to be solved…” Perhaps it can be, one dog, one puppy mill at a time.
I trust that most of you have no intention of supporting the shady and torturous business of puppy mills and puppy brokerage for the sake of having the latest and the trendiest of breeds.
My plan is to ask you to help me put these businesses that perpetrate despair, torture and suffering out of business.
HOW TO AVOID PUPPY MILLS
- What are puppy mills?
They are mass breeding stations with the sole purpose of breeding and selling puppies.
- What is the life of dog used for breeding like?
Dogs used for breeding are often confined to small cages, get no attention or exercise and often sleep in their own waste or walk metal cage screens. They are fed cheap and nutrient poor pet food, bred as often as 2x a year and get no or minimal veterinary care. The bitches are considered breeding machines. They are the slaves of the modern times.
- How does all this affect the puppies?
It comes without saying that stressed malnourished mothers have puppies that are more likely to be ill. Lack of human contact and “family structure” makes them more prone to behavioral problems. No or very little exercise leads to disfigurement and poor development of joints – especially knees, elbows, shoulders and the hips.This all is just the tip of the iceberg. Poor and uncontrolled breeding happens commonly between dogs that are closely related. This can lead to genetic weakness and serious health problems.
- How do puppy mills affect the lives of other dogs?
For every dog bred in puppy mills, there is a one less home for a homeless dog at your local rescue organization. These dogs are often euthanized.
- What can you do to avoid puppy mills?
The most popular dog breeds are more likely to come from puppy mills. Smaller dogs are more likely to be breed in such facilities because they eat less and can be sold for a hefty profit. Never buy a dog from a pet store no matter how sorry you feel for the puppies in the shop window. Your purchase will keep the vicious circle spinning. Ask yourself a question. Do you really need the latest and trendiest schmoodles, labradoodles, “bullshits”, cockapoos or whatever new flavour of the year comes up. I often find the best and healthiest dogs are the mixed breeds…If you are one of the people who just simply fell in love with the more popular breeds, it is ok, own it and go for it. No one is perfect. Just make sure that you find a reputable breeder and that you meet the mother of the puppies in their home.If the seller makes excuses, doesn’t want you to come to her or his home or enter their home. Run as fast as you can and tell others. Yes, I know, we feel sorry for these puppies and want to rescue them from the house of horror. However, the only way to stop the vicious circle of puppy mill breeding is to stop buying them. If you are reading this blog too late and you are pretty sure that you have a dog from a puppy mill, you may want to read the following section.
Do not trust what you have been told by the seller and do the following:
- Get two fecal sample checks for parasites as puppy brokers often lie about puppies being dewormed.
- Follow the holistic approach to vaccination link . Puppy mill puppies are often vaccinated too early for the immune system to respond. Early vaccination wipes out the maternal antibodies and leaves puppies unprotected.
- Gradually increase the exercise.
- Ensure that your puppy socializes with other healthy dogs and puppies to gain social skills and become well adjusted.
- Forgive yourself. I believe that making mistakes is part of learning. No one is perfect. You can easily make up for your mistake by passing this message to others who would otherwise fall in the same trap.
Dr. Peter Dobias
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM