What is a Puppy Mill? Is That the Question?


In Chicago, and many cities around the country,  pet loving activists are  enacting laws to prevent or stop the pet shop sales of commercially bred—a/k/a puppy mill—bred dogs.

The common thinking, and it is pretty accurate, is that dogs sold in pet shops come from commercial breeders. They are only bred , as livestock, to sell. There is no regard for the health or temperament—or genetic soundness—of the parent dogs.  What happens to dogs not sold? They are  either  returned to use for breeding, euthanized, or dumped in  animal shelters—usually in rural locations.

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a Shih Tzu---Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a
Shih Tzu—Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

I get  all the pet industry publications:  Pet Business, Pet Age, Pet Manufacturing News, and they all are reporting that commercial breeders are on the decline. Some of the reasons are that  that fewer pet shops are  buying their dogs to resell.  Sure, there’s still Petland, Furry Babbies, Happiness is Pets, and others, but, for the most part,  more pet shop owners are seeing the writing on the wall. They  know that  people who come into their pet shops to impulsively buy a dog, haven’t put much thought into it, and the pup will be abused or neglected.  Better to send people looking for puppies and kittens to animal shelters or  hobby breeders…or just allow the shelters to bring in animals and do the screening of adopters themselves (and just make money off the supplies these pet owners will buy).

I support rescue.  I have owned puppies, and have worked for kennels taking care of puppies, and for me, an older dog is best.  My last 5 dogs were  older dogs that the breeders had either  just kept…or taken back when the people they sold the dog to could not keep them.  This is what ethical hobby breeders—who love their dogs, do. They are responsible for their dogs from ‘cradle to grave’.  In fact, some  parent clubs, notably the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, mandate their club members  do this. This is why you don’t see a lot of ‘rare’ breeds in  shelters—or on Craigslist.  These breeders are not desperate to dump dogs.   They wouldn’t be breeding dogs if they had to offload dogs to iffy homes. &—this is why  hobby breeders are on the decline.  It is  too expensive, and aggravating, to breed good dogs.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder...& I got her.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder…& I got her.

Oh sure,  what’s considered ethical varies from breed to breed.  Who knew what a Shiba Inu, a Havanese, or a Cane Corso were 20 year ago?  The breeders of those breeds just assumed that the people they sold to were buying pets…or, nobody ever addressed to the hobby breeders what could happen if they sold dog without neutering  or co-ownership contracts.  Now, we see those breeds more often on Craigslist, and don’t get me started about designer mixes.

I am opposed to puppy mills, but it seems that the AKC is working against us.  Why is that? Well, of course, they make money off of registrations, no matter who breeds the dogs….but what is a puppy mill?  There are people with 2 or 3 bitches who breed them to death, and post on Craigslist constantly…but they don’t have kennel buildings, so nobody considers them puppy mills. Yet—-it is exactly those breeders whose dogs end up in shelters and rescues. Why? They don’t ask who  lives in the household and to meet them all, if the buyer owns or rents, if he works all day, what will be his arrangements to housebreak and train a puppy,  if he knows how much annual shots  or frequent grooming costs.  In fact,ironically, it is the African scammers posting Bulldogs, Siberian Huskies, and Yorkies who ask those questions!

Now, on the surface, this breeder looks like a puppy mill : http://www.blythewoodschnauzers.com/  Go to the website. Joan Huber has  at least 14 stud dogs. So, at a minimum, you know she has to have at least 14  breeding bitches , and I am sure she has more.  Joan Huber is a well known  professional handler. She has been in dogs over 60 years!  There is no indication she is selling  litters for resale, but she would not have to.  She has enough of a market, due to her reputation, to sell all the dogs she breeds.  She  is a member of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, and I am sure she  adhere to their code of ethics, as I know people who know her.  The problem would be if she sells an unspayed bitch to someone less ethical than she is…& then Blythewood will be behind the names of many puppy mill  dogs.  At one time, seeing this happen, many Min. Schnauzer breeders started doing early (before age of 6 months) spay/neuter.  This can lead to  urinary incontinence.  But what can you do when buyers lie?  I doubt Ms. Huber has a personal relationship with all her dogs, but I also doubt they are living in squalor, as she does receive puppy buyers to her kennel. This is how kennels used to be—as few  people were showing their pet dogs prior to the 1960s.  BLYTHEWOOD IS NOT CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEM!

My point is, the wording has to be  addressed in these laws,and  those promoting  humane care really have to understand if what they are  fighting for will make a difference in how many  pets are raised, and then are abused and/or abandoned.  When the ‘no-kill’ shelters in Illinois  ignore the dogs bred by the many backyard breeders which end up at Chicago Animal Care & Control—because they are mostly pit bulls or pit mixes (and they don’t want only these types of dogs on their websites), and go out of state to get the  dogs the puppies  mills and backyard breeders dump in Kentucky, Iowa, or  wherever….they are not solving the problem, and, in fact, keeping  bad breeders in business.  Yet these  do-gooders have the nerve to tell me that all breeders are bad breeders. The do-gooders are not rescuing pariah dogs—-they are actually solving the bad breeders’ problem of surplus dogs, and  making it difficult for ethical breeders.  I don’t want the hillbillies, meth addicts, and  low life scum deciding what kind of dog I should own—and I feel bad for the dogs thy breed, but this is not solving the problem.

The wording should be that if a pet shop sells any mammal (why would a dog’s life be worth more than a bunny or a guinea pig…or hamster or mouse…) they must either breed them themselves or they must  come from a bona fide shelter or rescue.   The owners and managers will say they did not come from mills or commercial breeders…but families breeding their pets. Uh-huh.    If that were so, they would not sell  them all to resell. Pets are not a 4-H project. & then, if these  do-gooders want to start making a dent….start calling and arranging visits to everyone posting a baby animal on Craigslist.  Make an appointment, and flag the post, and ask these people directly—why  did they breed the litter,  what does the fee include, will they take it back if you can’t keep it? who should be responsible for it if they won’t be….and why are they ignoring Craigslist rules in regard to animal sales?

 

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6 Responses to “What is a Puppy Mill? Is That the Question?”

  1. Missy Kurtz Says:

    Having 14 stud dogs does not mean she has at least 14 breeding bitches. Someone who has worked in kennels should be more knowledgeable on the issue. Perhaps she prefers to offer stud to others, instead of raising litters herself. If her 14 stud dogs are of her own breeding, she’s probably limited in what she can breed them to in her kennel. Many dog people prefer male dogs and perhaps she has 14 studs because she has an emotional attachment to those 14 dogs. Also as a pro handler, more champions is an advertisement for her business and it’s typically easier to put a championship on a male.

    • disparateinterests Says:

      LOl. Perhaps she does, but she breeds over 20 litters a year. She breeds good dogs, but now is in trouble. There is no way a person can have a relationship with that many dogs. That really should be the bottom line, If dogs ar property, and not companion family members, there is where the divide is.

      • hexe Says:

        How do you know how many dogs she can have a relationship with, disparateinterests?

        At one time in my life, I was active in sled dog racing, and there were times when I had twenty dogs living with me–and I had an individual bond with each and every one of those dogs. I knew each of their distinct personalities, their likes and dislikes, their favorite games, the exact spot each one liked best for ‘skritching’; who liked to be cuddled, and who was too dignified for such stuff. I knew which dogs were best friends, which ones viewed one of the others as their nemesis, and which ones were the peacemakers.

        You may not be capable of doing so, but shouldn’t judge someone else’s capacity by your own.

      • disparateinterests Says:

        Did you really? Great–& you actually went sledding with these dogs. I( worked in a kennel of 20 breeding dogs, and the owner greeted those dogs every day….but in this case, she hired others to feed her dogs & clean up. Shes a professional handler. & now, this is what the debate will be: Do you have dogs as companions….or are they just breeding machines like livestock?

  2. kate mihal Says:

    Of course she hired to people to help her. She’s 83. She also groomed. You sound very uneducated in what you’re talking about. You worked at one kennel and now you’re an expert? Just because she hired to help her does not mean she doesn’t have a personal relationship with her dogs.That means she wants the best for her dogs. What an ignorant statement. Most hobby breeders hire help. Or don’t you have the experience to know that?

    • disparateinterests Says:

      Wow. I’ve worked in 4 breeding and at least 7 boarding kennels in the past 50 years.having worked in a kennel with 20+ breeding dogs, I know that alone is a full time job, You get finished feeding & cleaning, and it’s time to start again, or at least start grooming. I have been working for hobby breedes since I was a teenager, and I am now 64. Yes, they hire help….but they also have an idea that when they need full time help, they have less of personal relationship with their own dogs. She’s 83 and has well over 50 dogs and handles, and grooms. I have mixed feelings.
      She is one of the top Min. Schnauzer breeders, but she is a commercial breeder. The problem is that the American public thinks all breeders are commercial breeders. Ethics and integrity vary from breed to breed. Most of the breeders i know and work for have all their dogs in the house, or rotate them in. but i also know of breeders who keept heir dogs in kennels and except for feeding 7 cleaning, have nothing to do with their dogs on a daily basis.

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