Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog the Change: Puppy Mills vs Responsible Dog Breeders

Every time I've looked at the calendar this week, I've wondered what to write about for Blog the Change.  Frankly, there are so may dog causes that I am passionate about that I've even thought about skipping this time around.  Too hard to focus my thoughts.

At least that's how I felt until I read a comment on my blog.  In response to my post Puppy Mill Industry Fights New Missouri Law, good old Anonymous left the following comment:
"What a skewed and misleading article. "Puppy Mill' is a term used to slur any breeder and leaves the impression of a cruel operation. There is nothing basic about the regulations and they are designed to make it hard to raise puppies in a healthy socialized environment. Most breeders are not going to do this to their dogs and that is why they stop. They are experts in care, unlike the people behind these rules, and they care too much and know too well the ill effects on their dogs to raise them in sterile environments designed for lab animals."
I've been yelled at corrected before about my use of the term "puppy mill." 

Here's the definition of "puppy mill" as defined by the Humane Society of the United States:
"Puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers.  The puppies are sold either directly to the public via the Internet, newspaper ads, at the mill itself, or are sold to brokers and pet shops across the country."
There are documented problems with puppy mills:
  • Over breeding
  • Inbreeding
  • Minimal veterinary care
  • Poor quality of food and shelter
  • Lack of socialization with humans
  • Overcrowded cages
  • Killing of unwanted animals
These are some of the problems the Missouri Canine Cruelty Prevention Act was designed to prevent.  In fact, new regulations in Missouri are putting some commercial dog breeders out of business.  Do I know, for a fact, that these are "puppy mills?"  No, but I suspect many, if not all, are.

Do I want to see them put out of business?

You betcha, I do.   I'm against factory farming and confinement farming.  Yes, of all animals.  Most definitely dogs.  

To my way of thinking, there are puppy mills, commercial dog breeders, and simply dog breeders.

One of my best friends is a dog breeder - a responsible dog breeder, in my opinion.  At any given time she owns or co-owns up to two dozen Swiss Mountain Dogs and is responsible for the puppy placements.  I've known Brigitte for well over twenty years and have watched her passion for these dogs grow.  She's active in several Swissy clubs and is currently the 1st Vice President of the GSMDCA, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America, the breed's AKC recognized parent club.

Brigitte is a native of Switzerland and her first Swissy came from there and her venture has grown.  The goal of her kennel, Brush Creek Farm, is to breed and raise healthy and temperamentally sound Swissys as family companions, as active working dogs for activities such as obedience, tracking, herding, weight pulling, draft and pack dog and other events, as therapy dogs, and for conformation shows and breeding.

Her dogs are farm and family raised.  They are not confined or kenneled.  They have access to approximately 6 acreas of fenced house yard.  And, yes, they are in the house, playing with stuffies or lounging on a sofa.  

Puppies come into this world inside the house, in a well equipped area of her laundry room.  Friends - especially those with children - are encouraged to come and play with those puppies, so that socialization can begin as early as possible.

Copious records are kept on the health of each dog.  Any dog that does not "measure up" is spayed or neutered and a home is found for that dog.  Potential adopters of both show and pet quality dogs are screened very carefully.  Even the health of the pet quality dogs is followed throughout their lives.

Is Brush Creek Kennel a puppy mill?  Hardly.  In fact, Brigitte is just as opposed to puppy mills as I am.

If a dog breeder is afraid of regulations like those imposed by Missouri's Canine Cruelty Prevention Act, then I cannot believe they are responsible dog breeders.  If they cannot comply with those very basic regulations - and they are very basic, then I believe they are most probably puppy mills.

Responsible dog breeders, like my friend, do not keep their puppies and dogs in inhumane conditions.  They never sell to pet stores or directly over the internet.  They do not place profit over the health, wellness and socialization of their dogs.

* * *
About Blog the Change at BtC4animals.com - Each 15th of January, April, July and Octobers, Bloggers write about a cause near and dear to their hearts.  If you have a blog, blog.  Or comment, tweet, share on Facebook or other social media.  Blog the Change is a fantastic opportunity to champion a cause and make a difference in the lives of animals.


  1. Sing it sister!! Amen. I love those anonymous ball-less commenters.

    As you pointed out there is a big difference between responsible breeders and puppy mills. And like you I agree, I am against the whole factory process, whether it be dogs, cows or any other animal.

    The people with the most to lose are generally the ones that scream the loudest. I would say your anonymous commenter, probably is a puppy mill breeder themselves.

    My solution, take those people who treat animals horrifically and force them to live the way they force the animals to live, I wonder what they'd be screaming then?

  2. Yes - I love hearing about responsible breeders who are opposed to puppy mills! Thank you for sharing this story so more people can understand that those opposed to puppy mills are not opposed to breeders in general. We are opposed to the inhumane conditions that dogs in these facilities are forced to live in!

    Vicki Cook
    Team BTC

  3. I was glad to see you tell a story of a responsible breeder. I have only rescued dogs, but see nothing wrong with those who take the responsibility for raising and breeding pure bred dogs in healthy environments. I have read some opinions that allow there is no reason for pure bred breeding and have come to find they hurt more than help the cause of taking out the irresponsible puppy mills. The focus needs to be on promoting responsible breeding and working to end the suffering created by puppy mills.

    Much has been accomplished through positive education of the public. While many were not even aware of the problems with puppy mills and how they were encouraged through pet store purchases of dogs, education campaigns have made the issue very public. When mills started using other outlets, education has also proven useful in teaching people the dangers of feeding this industry. While laws can help, the best way to stop puppy mills is to stop the consumer interest in getting their dogs this way. While some people will be stopped when they realize the horrors of the conditions the dogs are born into, others will find the future health costs of sickly pups and dogs and incentive to stop buying through puppy mills. Find the right message and you can start drying up the consumer market for buying dogs this way.

    I also think we can do more to help people get connected with the dogs they want for their families. The reason people sought out pet stores is it was a fast, easy way to find an animal. We may not like that, but for the average family the work involved in finding a breeder, etc. is more than many know how to begin. If we want to encourage responsible buying, we can work on making it easier.

  4. Hey Rudy, Hey Jeffie, Jet here. Hi Miss Sue.

    Miss Sue... we got your back! We agree with your perspective and think you presented your friends efforts well.

  5. Ohhhh my friend you ROCKED this post!! Thank you for discussing the difference between puppy mills and responsible breeders. Those of us who do have pure bred dogs that we purchased from RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS deeply thank you!
    Loved this! "Responsible dog breeders, like my friend, do not keep their puppies and dogs in inhumane conditions. They never sell to pet stores or directly over the internet. They do not place profit over the health, wellness and socialization of their dogs."

  6. Oh...My...Dog...this is a GREAT post! I agree with you 100% across the board! You know "Anonymous" is a puppy miller...who else would post a comment so filled with...with...ooh, I'll just use the word lies so I don't lose my temper.

    Thank you for showing the world how an honest and caring breeder takes care of, and finds homes for, the puppies in their care.

  7. Thank you for this post!! I am still trying to put mine together for today but have become so discouraged by the amount of misleading garbage out there trying to obfuscate the issues. Breeders with integrity support shutting down puppy mills. Obviously, "Anonymous" lacks an appropriate dose of integrity.

  8. Amen! This is a seriously awesome post, Sue.

    I love that you profiled Brigitte - there are some truly responsible and fantastic breeders out there, but someone who runs an operation like hers has no need to be afraid of some basic regulation. And in fact, anyone who treats her animals as well as she does is likely in favor of a law that would ensure other animals are not neglected or abused. I second Leslie's comment - any breeder with integrity would also be in favor of shutting down puppy mills.

    Thank you for this awesome post!

    Team BtC4A

  9. Here here! Great post!

    Hope "Anonymous" sees it. And really THINKS about it.

  10. Great post! I think it's so important to make the distinction between responsible breeders and those who have puppy mills. So many people believe that breeders are in it for the money; making loads while sending their puppies off to who knows were. Over the past year I've met 5 breeders are none of them were rich (well, one was but it was family money) and they loved their breed, their dogs, and their puppies. Each kept in touch with all of their families and two also boarded the dogs (it was like going off to camp) so they really got to see how the dogs were doing.

    I go back and forth about dog breeding when I see irresponsible breeders and it's unfortunate, because they're making it suck for everyone.

  11. Good article! I had to go back and read your first one and then I read the Missouri Canine Cruelty Prevention Act. That is a good thing. It sounds like it weeds out the bad ones. I mean just look at who is left complaining about the act, the owner of the biggest retail pet shop in the area who has lost half of his business because backyard breeders don't want to pay the extra money to have adequate living space and veterinarian care for their dogs. Good. I hope he goes out of business. I'm not afraid of regulations like this because I already do what a responsible breeder does.

  12. Responsible breeders have my utmost respect. They spend their lives learning about one or two breeds, do whatever testing might be necessary to insure healthy puppies, and generally spend lots of money doing things right before they breed their dog(s). They hand raise the puppies and provide a lifetime safety net should dogs ever need to be returned. Thanks for telling us about your friend and thanks for writing for Be The Change day!

    Mary Haight
    Team BTC

  13. Of course the comment was anonymous. Who would ever want to take ownership of those words? Good for you for taking the time to distinguish between types of breeders. I still would favor adoption from an at risk shelter, but that is not the only responsible adoption for would be pet owners. Great post.

  14. Here, here! I'm quite tired of those 'anonymous' comments, too. Despite their loud outcries, they are either mills, irresponsible or backyard breeders - or seriously misinformed breeders. None of those offers a good choice for a breeder!

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals!
    Kim Thomas
    Team BtC4A

  15. Don't forget, there is a third option. this option is far better than a puppy mill, but far far worse than a responsible breeder, and that is your 'backyard breeder" Someone who has a 'cute' or 'sweet' or what ever quality they love and adore in their pet and they go out and mate it. They take no consideration for improving the line or breeding for standard, etc. They often do not even do the research to know what is involved in breeding, welping, etc. medical tests aren't run, genetic defects aren't considered.. etc.

    Sadly too many people just 'want a dog' (or cat) and they don't know there is a difference. They don't understand that their choices actually impact the welfare of so many animals.

  16. Over all this was a great article Sue, I agree with you completely there is a fine line between responsible dog breeders and others who breed as if they were running a factory. That anonymous responder from your previous article must be involved in puppy mills because of how they jumped to conclusions. There is nothing right about puppy mills or any other animal breeding facility because of the lack of compassion or care of each and every animal that is brought into this world. As you said if the person who breeds for a profit cannot comply with the laws set by Missouri then they should not be breeding any animal as it appears they lack the love of making sure each and every puppy is placed in a loving home.

  17. I am against puppy mills. I have seen firsthand the deplorable and miserable existence of the female dogs put to breed. It is just heartbreaking. Which is why here in the UK, I support a law that will ban puppy mills. There are a lot of puppies who end up in animal shelter. While rescued female dogs are often in poor health. They just see dogs as profit and have no regard for their well being.

  18. Thanks for your informative and valuable post.I am so glad to learn about puppy mills and responsible breeders.I like Responsible dog breeders, because they do not keep their puppies and dogs in inhumane conditions like puppy mills. They never sell to pet stores or directly over the internet. They do not place profit over the health, wellness and socialization of their dogs."


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