100 of the Worst Puppy Mills Exposed
We are a nation of dog lovers, but our demand for cute puppies and unwitting purchases are continuing to drive an industry that’s contributing to the suffering of thousands of dogs living in puppy mills.
For the third year in a row, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has released its list of the 100 worst puppy mills in the U.S. The report, The Horrible Hundred 2015, has again uncovered the heartbreaking treatment of dogs that, it’s probably safe to say, no one would knowingly support.
Just a few of the nightmarish issues highlighted in this report include dogs without shelter, living in filthy conditions, starving, sick and left with untreated wounds and other serious health issues.
According to the HSUS, the report was compiled based on a number of factors, including state and federal records of violations and warnings, their severity and consumer complaints.
The worst breeders were found in 16 states, with Missouri and Kansas topping the list for the third year in a row, followed by Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas. Because these breeders sell either to pet stores, or directly to the public, puppies from these mills can end up in the hands of unsuspecting consumers anywhere in the U.S.
These breeders are all required to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). That should mean something, to both consumers and dogs, about the level of care required but as this report and other investigations have shown it really doesn’t.
Licensing only requires the bare minimum standards of care and even those are apparently too much for some breeders to be bothered with. Dogs can be kept in cages only a few inches longer than their bodies for their entire lives, cages can be stacked with wire floors and dogs can be bred as often as they can produce to maximize profits. Often they are left without adequate care in unsanitary conditions. None of those standards are exactly our idea of the kind of humane care breeders should be required to provide to stay in business.
When it comes to inspections, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Animal Care (AC) unit is responsible for enforcing the AWA, but it has been ineffective in terms of dealing with problem breeders and repeat offenders.
While some breeders that were identified in previous reports have since been shut down, many of these breeders continue to be licensed again despite their known violations and obvious cruelty that’s taking place at their facilities.
Worse still, as the HSUS points out, is that this report only offers a glimpse into a much bigger problem, but it’s also “a reminder not to be fooled by a cute name, a USDA license or registration papers.”
While laws and regulations dealing with this industry lag far behind what dogs urgently need now, a growing awareness about this problem is leading the change as more communities act to protect both pets, and people who want to welcome them into their home, from bad breeders.
We can all also stop supporting the suffering immediately by being careful about where we’re getting our dogs. There are millions of pets in shelters and rescues waiting for a chance at a forever home and hundreds of breed-specific rescues around. There are also breeders who care about their dogs, and the quality and future of the puppies they bring into the world, and they will never sell their dogs to brokers or pet stores.
For more info on how to help dogs this Puppy Mill Action Week, check out A Puppy Is Not a Product.
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