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Are you smarter than a Puppy Miller?

Are You Smarter Than a Puppy Miller?

California recently banned the sale of puppy mill dogs from pet stores, and I hope this legislation becomes contagious throughout the United States. Unfortunately, in addition to selling their “merchandise” to pet stores, puppy millers have a huge online presence where their business is thriving.

 

The problem is, folks who are newish (and even some who are not so newish) to purchasing puppies fall prey to the allure of puppy mill websites. They see dozens of images of adorable fuzzy faces, healthy and happy appearing dogs lounging on couches in beautiful homes, and puppies playing in yards filled with lush green grass. One need not be super-gullible to buy into all this pretense.

 

Case in point- my friends who are both medical professionals (they’re not stupid people) are ready to adopt a puppy. They searched kennels online and found one they liked. Emails were exchanged with the breeder and my friends were ready to take the next step. Thankfully, they called me first to get my opinion. I hopped online, spent about a minute on the website and found a dozen or so red flags that shouted, “Puppy Mill!!” I shared this information with my friends, gave them a tutorial on where and how to adopt, and patted myself on the back for putting the kabosh on a puppy mill purchase.

 

Let the games begin!

Ready to take a little quiz? Read each quote below and determine if you think it came from a responsible breeder’s website or one behind which a puppy miller is lurking.                  

 

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“Our insurance agent has warned against having visitors because our policy could be cancelled should someone get injured during a visit.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“Our ultimate goal as Mini Goldendoodle breeders is to provide healthy, happy, well socialized family pets. Our farm has lots of room to run and a creek to play in! With our kids, our nieces and nephews and extended families, the puppies get lots of love, playtime and socialization. This allows them to be more well adjusted little puppies when they go their new homes.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“I am not being secretive, nor do I have anything to hide by requesting visits to be scheduled. If I’m not going out then I am generally grooming, cleaning, etc. and either me, my house, or my dogs are not in a state in which I care to entertain strangers, usually it’s me covered with dirt and/or dog hair from grooming.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“We warranty your puppy for ten years. No cash refunds, no vet bill refunds, only credit towards new puppy will be awarded.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“Nobody handles a puppy unless it is ‘their’ puppy that they already have a deposit on. The deposit is $350 and non-refundable.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“I do allow you to come and visit if you have a deposit on a puppy. I do not allow my breeding dogs to be touched/handled. You will be able to see how our dogs are housed, exercised and to view the heated and air conditioned whelping houses from my viewing room.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“We offer the convenience of shipping your puppy to you via plane or we can drive and meet you halfway. This way, you don’t have to spend time driving all the way to us.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“We offer financing with 0% interest for six months.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

“If there is a specific puppy you want, but you do not want to put a hold down and you start to drive- that is your choice! If the puppy is purchased online ANYTIME PRIOR TO YOUR ARRIVAL, (yes, even 5 minutes), there is NOTHING WE CAN DO! This is the nature of things. It’s the same with cars, boats, clothes, phones, etc…. whoever puts the money down first gets the puppy.”

Puppy mill or responsible breeder?

Under frequently asked questions and answers, the question is, “My new dog is shying away from hands in his face and yelling/loud noises. Has he/she been abused?”

The response is, “No, your dog is just nervous and is shying away because he has probably never been yelled at or hit and it is terrifying to him. Most abused dogs get used to it and hardly react, opposite of what most people think!”

 

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet

Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award

Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award

Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog

Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award

Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award

 

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at http://www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

Were You Smarter Than a Puppy Miller?

 

Below are my opinions about the puppy miller versus responsible breeder quotes I provided in my last blog post. 

  1. “Our insurance agent has warned against having visitors because our policy could be cancelled should someone get injured during a visit.”

This is a flimsy excuse used by puppy millers who will do most anything to prevent outsiders from seeing their facilities and/or their dogs. Conversely, responsible breeders want their puppy adopters to come visit. They’re proud of their dogs and want to show them off. Additionally, they want the opportunity to assess their potential buyers face-to-face. Most responsible breeders are unwilling to sell a pup to someone they’ve not met in person. 

  1. “Our ultimate goal as Mini Goldendoodle breeders is to provide healthy, happy, well socialized family pets. Our farm has lots of room to run and a creek to play in! With our kids, our nieces and nephews and extended families, the puppies get lots of love, playtime and socialization. This allows them to be more well adjusted little puppies when they go their new homes.”

One of the first clues that this comes from a puppy miller is the designer hybrid breed being sold- Mini Goldendoodles. Responsible breeders tend to have a long-standing love affair with a particular breed, and they spend lots of time and energy researching all of its nuances with hopes of producing puppies that enhance the breed. Purposefully creating mixed breed dogs detracts from this mission. Because designer hybrids have become all the rage, it’s not surprising that puppy millers have jumped on this lucrative bandwagon.

Secondly, the long-winded description about how the puppies are socialized is simply over the top. Puppy millers try to create a fantasy image for their website visitors by providing such wordy descriptions. A responsible breeder invites you to come visit and create the description for yourself.

  1. “I am not being secretive, nor do I have anything to hide by requesting visits to be scheduled. If I’m not going out then I am generally grooming, cleaning, etc. and either me, my house, or my dogs are not in a state in which I care to entertain strangers, usually it’s me covered with dirt and/or dog hair from grooming.”

If a puppy miller allows any sort of visit, preparations are necessary to properly stage the facility so as to appear as something other than a deplorable breeding factory. Yes, most responsible breeders would deter drop in visits, but something like, “Please call to schedule a visit,” would suffice. The drama and wordiness in the quote above is a dead giveaway.

4.“We warranty your puppy for ten years. No cash refunds, no vet bill refunds, only credit towards new puppy will be awarded.”

Is this breeder selling appliances or puppies? A puppy miller doesn’t much distinguish significantly between the two. Besides, once victimized by a puppy miller, no one in their right mind would want to tackle the heartbreak of a second puppy with significant health and/or behavioral issues.

5.“Nobody handles a puppy unless it is ‘their’ puppy that they already have a deposit on. The deposit is $350 and non-refundable.”

The puppy miller counts on customers falling in love with online photos of puppies and willingly handing over hundreds of dollars. Once such a nonrefundable deposit is paid, it’s difficult for folks to walk away from a litter without a puppy in hand, whether or not it feels like a healthy match.

6.“I do allow you to come and visit if you have a deposit on a puppy. I do not allow my breeding dogs to be touched/handled. You will be able to see how our dogs are housed, exercised and to view the heated and air conditioned whelping houses from my viewing room.”

As with the first quote above, puppy millers have a lot to hide and they use flimsy excuses as to why potential customers cannot tour their kennels and meet their dogs.

7.“We offer the convenience of shipping your puppy to you via plane or we can drive and meet you halfway. This way, you don’t have to spend time driving all the way to us.”

The goal of puppy millers is to handle everything online. If the puppy and the purchaser ever meet, it is well away from their breeding factory and only after money has exchanged hands.

8.“We offer financing with 0% interest for six months.”

For the puppy miller, puppies are nothing more than merchandise such as a car or appliance.  A responsible breeder would question selling a pup to someone with a need to make payments over six months. What would this say about the adopter’s ability to provide quality food and medical care for their new dog?

  1. “If there is a specific puppy you want, but you do not want to put a hold down and you start to drive- that is your choice! If the puppy is purchased online ANYTIME PRIOR TO YOUR ARRIVAL, (yes, even 5 minutes), there is NOTHING WE CAN DO! This is the nature of things. It’s the same with cars, boats, clothes, phones, etc…. whoever puts the money down first gets the puppy.”

This has puppy miller written all over it! A responsible breeder’s goal is to find a “forever home” for each and every one of her puppies. She would never dream of letting a puppy go solely on the basis of who was the first to get out their wallet.

  1. Under frequently asked questions and answers, the question is, “My new dog is shying away from hands in his face and yelling/loud noises. Has he/she been abused?”

The response is, “No, your dog is just nervous and is shying away because he has probably never been yelled at or hit and it is terrifying to him. Most abused dogs get used to it and hardly react, opposite of what most people think!”

This is out-and-out deceit intended to hide puppy miller abuse. A 2011 study confirmed that puppy mill progeny consistently exhibit strong fear behaviors resulting from cage isolation and negative social interactions with humans.

Thank you for participating in this puppy mill quiz. I encourage you to share it with folks you know who may be thinking about getting a puppy. Provide them with the telltale signs of puppy millers versus responsible breeders and remind them to never purchase a pup online without meeting the litter face-to-face and touring the breeding facility. Helping spread the word will get us one step closer to eradicating puppy mills.

Nancy Kay, DVM



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