August 28, 2008 from the Humane Society of the United States web page at www.hsus.org
For the third time in recent months, The Humane Society of the United States coordinated the rescue of hundreds of dogs from an enormous puppy mill Aug. 23. Like too many others, Whispering Oaks Kennel in West Virginia was selling puppies over the Internet, posing as a small family breeder.
“We are a home based kennel,” the breeder’s website stated. “Our dogs get the best of care. They are pre-spoiled and come with a written health guarantee.”
But behind the elegant kennel name, the cute website, and the empty promises, lay an enormous puppy mill where nearly 1,000 dogs and puppies were confined continually to cramped wire cages, often going without food or water in the sweltering summer sun. Far from “pre-spoiled,” most of the dogs and puppies had little if any human interaction.
The W.Va. raid is the third recent bust on a puppy that sold puppies primarily over the Internet. Earlier this summer, The HSUS rescued almost 700 dogs from a puppy mill in Lyles, Tenn., that sold puppies online under the kennel name Pinebluff Puppies. A kennel in Maine that called itself J’Aime Kennel sold its puppies through classified websites as well as on its own site. When The HSUS helped rescued approximately 250 dogs from J’Aime last summer, many of the dogs were found suffering from sarcoptic mange, a contagious disease; Giardia, a parasite transmissable to humans; and other disorders. Many of them spun in circles continually-a symptom of living for years in a cage.
Online Breeder Networks
People who purchase the puppies from such facilities are often fooled by online “breeder networks,” which are really just advertising sites. As a result, they often receive a sick or dying puppy, while also supporting a cruel industry. “Complaints pour in to The HSUS every week from puppy buyers who have been duped by deceptive websites or ads, and end up with a sick or dying puppy,” says Kathleen Summers, deputy director for The HSUS Stop Puppy Mills campaign.
“We encourage pet lovers never to buy any animal online. There are puppy mills, kitten mills, bird mills and more, and most of their ads and websites are indistinguishable from those of responsible breeders. There is no way to know if a breeder is responsible simply by viewing a website. You must visit an animal welfare organization, shelter, or a responsible breeder in person. If you visit a breeder, make sure to see where the mother dog is living to ensure that she is living indoors as a member of the family, not in a cage or in any area you are not permitted to see, said Summers.
Curbing Internet Pet Sales
The HSUS is fighting for legislation that would curb the unregulated business of Internet pet sales, but it is still advisable never to purchase a live animal online. In addition to the risk that you are dealing with a puppy, kitten, or bird mill in disguise, there is a very real humane issue in transporting animals long distances by air or truck. “These are baby animals that need supervision and care. They shouldn’t be ordered online like a DVD or a sweater,” says Summers
The following stories are just a few that Summers has received in recent weeks from across the U.S.:
Â· Valentine Damien of Chicago, Ill., thought he was dealing with a small home breeder when he purchased a puppy after seeing an online classified ad. Only after his new puppy nearly died of a respiratory infection did Damien suspect something was wrong. He called The HSUS and gave them the name of the seller. He then learned that his puppy actually came from a kennel in Minnesota believed to house more than 1,000 dogs. The kennel’s owner had recently been charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license for performing do-it-yourself surgeries on her dogs.
Â· Anna Sanchez of San Antonio, Texas, purchased a Bulldog puppy from a breeder in Tennessee after viewing the breeder’s website. There, the breeder claims to adhere to a “breeder’s code of ethics” and proclaims herself an expert on Bulldogs. But within 48 hours the dog Anna ordered was diagnosed with Demodectic mange. The mange and related skin infections required six weeks of expensive care and treatment. When contacted, the breeder refused to respond or reimburse Sanchez for the treatments.
Â· A law enforcement officer in California purchased a Boxer puppy over the Internet from a “breeder” in Texas. The puppy who arrived was malnourished and suffering from diarrhea. The next morning the puppy was rushed to an emergency veterinarian, where she was diagnosed with Parvovirus, a serious and often fatal intestinal infection that is contagious to other dogs. The puppy survived, but the buyer paid more than $3,800 in vet bills to save her life.
Rescue or Adopt
The best way to get a new pet is not to purchase one at all-but to visit a reputable animal shelter or rescue group, where many dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals are awaiting adoption into loving homes. If you do choose to visit a breeder, always make sure to screen your breeder in person. There is no shortcut to avoiding a puppy mill.
For more information on choosing the right dog, adoption, finding a good breeder and more, see our Puppy Buyer’s Guide. For more information on puppy mills, visit our Stop Puppy Mills website.
Also read the PetMd article about Puppy Mills at Puppy Mills and the Mass Production of Pedigree Pets