In our politically correct world, it is cool and stylish to adopt a dog from animal rescue centers and organizations instead of going to the pet store or breeder. People are told they are saving a life and helping to support an organization that finds a home for unwanted dogs. Going the rescue route is supposed to keep money out of the pockets of greedy puppy mill breeders and pet store operators, but nothing in the shadowy world of pet sales is ever completely, what it seems to be.
Let us start over and examine how people think that things work at most large-scale Animal Rescue organizations. All of us have seen those Animal Rescue segments on the local television news where unwanted puppies are paraded before the cameras in the hope of finding one a home. Most of the dogs are a mixture of puppies and older dogs that need to be adopted. The rescue center publicist shares a few sad tales about abused, abandoned or unwanted mixed breed and purebred dogs. This leaves viewers with the impression that purebred dog owners are just throwing their animals out in the street or dumping then, en masse, at rescue centers.
During these broadcasts, the rescue center publicist mentions repeatedly that in addition to all the mixed breed animals ready for adoption, large numbers of purebred pups are also available. How? Doesnít it seem a bit strange that people who spend months looking for just the right purebred puppy would simply abandon their pet after all the time and expense involved? Iím sure it happens, but not on the kind of scale that seems to provide some rescue centers with so many purebreds.
Would it shock you to know that instead of being recovered from the street or dropped off at the adoption center, many of those wonderful rescue folks purchased those purebred dogs from the same puppy mills where pet stores get their puppies? WHAT???? That is right! They come from puppy auctions.
Many pet stores have a well-earned reputation for having less then perfect puppies for sale. Most are sickly, lethargic and loaded with harmful bacteria that will probably kill them within a week of being purchased. Many sick pups manage to hold on to life at the pet store and even appear perfectly healthy. Thatís because they are pumped full of antibiotics to treat persistent infections and given stimulants in their food to make them appear active and healthy.
Once sold, the sad truth about the real state of their health becomes obvious. The stress of being taken to a new home where antibiotics and stimulants are no longer available is just too much for unhealthy pups. Most die within forty-eight hours of being sold. This leaves their new owners confused, devastated and sometimes stuck with a huge Vet bill for a pup that was never well enough to be sold in the first place. Where did these terribly ill puppies come from? Puppy Auctions!
States like Texas, Ohio, Missouri and Nevada have laws that allow puppy mills to operate between the cracks of credibility. Fearing that stricter laws will simply drive mill operations underground or just over the border, State Legislators opt to try for stricter enforcement of existing laws. With budgets always stretched to the limit, that kind of enforcement never seems to materialize.
What is a Puppy Mill? Mills are not credible Breeders, but farm operations that keep large numbers of dogs housed in sometimes-filthy conditions. Their animals are not beloved pets or well treated breeding stock, but enslaved dogs that are barely kept alive just for the purpose of producing large volumes of puppies. Most mill operations that produce puppies in large numbers make their money in two ways. Like legitimate Breeders, they sell their best puppies to the public. The rest go to a Puppy Auction.
Puppy Auctions are quietly held several times a year throughout the United States. Some are open to the public, while others are not. Buyers sent by pet stores go there to obtain purebred puppies at rock bottom prices. These pups are later sold in the stores for huge markups. Most of the puppies sold at auction are taken from leftover puppy mill stock. Mills end up getting only about $10 to $150 per pup from the auction.
Sellers usually pay the auction a flat fee per animal to auction their dogs. The mills make a small amount of money on some pups and a lot more on others. Sometimes they actually lose money, but are glad to get rid of sick or lesser quality pups for a small fee as long as those dogs become someone elseís problem. After all, they have already made money by selling the best of their litters to the public at legitimate Breeder prices. Sadly, even their best pups are nowhere near the quality offered by legitimate Breeders and will likely end up causing their new owners a lot of grief.
Pet store buyers are not the only ones who attend Puppy Auctions. Animal Rescue people go there too! Why? Most really cannot offer a good explanation except to say they are saving a life. How? By offering the same type of puppy for adoption that a pet store would end up selling? Some of the rescue people end up adopting out the auction pups they have purchased for a fee far greater then their purchase price. The profit, they argue, covers their cost of doing business and raises money for their organization. However, let us back up for a second.
There are loads of great animal rescue people out there who love animals and spend their lunch money to feed unwanted dogs and puppies. They donate their time, energy and resources to help strays find good homes. These people act responsibly to save abandoned and unwanted animal lives and I applaud them for it. It is just as wrong to depict every animal rescue person as a scam artist reselling pups from animal auctions as it is for all dog breeders to be characterized as puppy mill operators.
The problem with most animal rescue centers and organizations is that in order for them to look good, someone else has to look bad. In most cases, they demonize Dog Breeders as profiteers who have created a pet overpopulation problem. They claim that Dog Breeders are responsible for keeping their animals in deplorable conditions for the sake of making a buck. How, then, can they justify purchasing some dogs from animal auctions to adopt out at a profit?
Anyone who purchases a puppy at an animal auction is supporting the Puppy Mill system. No legitimate Breeder that I know would have anymore more to do with a puppy auction then they would a pet store. None would sell their puppies to pet stores or use the services of a puppy auction. Like honest rescue people, legitimate Breeders care about animals. The greatest joy a Breeder can experience is to find they have brought happiness into the lives of people who adopt their pups. Having said all that, what about the money issue?
Pet Stores are selling poor quality animals purchased in volume or at animal auctions for prices above what most Breeders charge. That reveals their motivation and lack of concern for the well-being of animals. Puppy Mills are producing puppies in volume to be sold to the public, pet stores and at auction. The byproducts of their operation are animal misery and unhealthy puppies. Profit without moral accountability is their motivation.
Some Animal Rescue people buy from puppy auctions and adopt those animals out at a profit. Regardless of the motive, this supports the puppy mill system. It also leaves unwary rescue center clients with the false impression that they have rescued an unwanted or abandoned puppy instead of one purchased for resale. At the same time, these clients are lead to believe the lie that legitimate Breeders have created a steady flow of abandoned purebred puppies just by being in business.
You should not stop supporting the efforts of legitimate rescue operations anymore then you should be made to feel guilty about purchasing a puppy from a legitimate Breeder. Both have a real love for dogs, concern for their well-being and are providing a good alternative to pet stores and puppy mills.
Legitimate animal rescue organizations need and deserve your support. Most of these operations adopt out unwanted or stray animals at a financial loss. They charge a small fee to cover some of their expenses and absorb the rest hoping that donations will take up the slack. Legitimate Breeders also deserve your support. The prices they charge are usually based on market value, lower then what pet stores charge and they earn every penny.
Dogs and pups need care and feeding twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty days a year. There are no days off if you are a Breeder! A Professional Breeder will paper train their pup, have them checked by a Vet, treated for potential bacteriological infection, wormed and properly socialized before they allow it to be adopted. This takes a lot of time, effort and money. Like any other business, Breeders must also earn enough to pay all their bills and buy groceries. It is wrong to look at Dog Breeders as non-profit organizations that should charge extremely low prices and work for nothing.
If you plan to adopt a puppy or older dog, seek out a legitimate breeder or rescue center. Support the efforts of these people who provide the only real alternative to pet stores. Ignore the politically correct rhetoric that depicts all breeders as puppy mills and ask the rescue center you visit if a puppy has been purchased for resale, brought in or found on the street as a stray. Do not support rescue centers, organizations or individuals who buy from puppy mills.
I wrote this piece with the hope that an informed pet-buying public would help end the circle of pain and deception created by puppy mills, pet auctions, illegitimate breeders and unscrupulous rescue groups. Rather then add to the lies, half truths and politically correct statements motivated by ill-informed propagandists, I hope that the information I have provided will help you make better informed decisions regarding any future pet purchases or adoptions.