The Humane Society of the United States has brought to light the deplorable conditions of many unlicensed breeding facilities in Virginia. The undercover operation shows filthy, crowded conditions and lack of veterinary care for dogs that exist solely for their breeders' profit. It's easy to feel shock and horror that people could operate these inhumane facilities. But are the breeders the only ones to blame? What about those of us who purchase these dogs? In our desire for a puppy of a certain breed, do we shirk our responsibility to learn where the puppy came from? If we buy a puppy based on a cute photo on the internet, what do we know about the conditions in which it has lived? What is that purchase price going to: The pet store that doesn't ask questions of their suppliers and the breeders who protect their profits by keeping operating costs low?
Besides mistreating the breeding animals and their pupppies, these puppy mills are adding to the pet overpopulation crisis by selling unneutered dogs. Do any of these breeders or pet stores require neutering? I doubt it. What can we do? Like the illegal drug market, if there were no consumer demand, there would be no suppliers. Obviously, one answer is to adopt dogs from the large supply of homeless animals already in our Virginia shelters. If you decide to buy a purebred dog, investigate first and make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder. Visit the facility and ask for references from a veterinarian. Find out whether a breeder is primarily interested in the welfare of the dogs or in making a sale.
Until we consumers demand change, puppy mills will continue to exist. Let's look at our own contribution to the problem and make decisions that promote animal welfare.