How Much is that Doggy in the Window?
By Kathy Gray
This is the name of a cute little children’s ditty that brings up thoughts of a cute little cuddly puppy in the window if a pet shop. But how many of us have actually truly thought about how much that doggy in the window really cost? What is the cost not only financially but emotionally, physically socially? Dogs in pet stores do NOT come from ethical reputable breeders and 99% come from puppy mills… no matter how ritzy the pet store may seem or how much the owners may deny it. Many pet stores claim they only buy from local breeders or from reputable breeders. Bottom line…NO reputable breeder will sell their puppies to a pet store because reputable breeders care about where their puppies go. They want only good caring homes for their puppies. Pet stores will sell to anyone with the money for the puppy. SO how much is that doggy in the window? (rest of this article is a bit graphic so read only if you have a strong stomach.) Unless they get rescued, that puppies parents will spend their entire life in a puppy mill…a place that mass produces puppies for sell to pet stores. They are in to producing puppies for the money and try at all costs to maximize profit and minimize expense. The dogs are considered “breeding stock”, commodities not creatures that feel and hurt and need love. The dogs are often kept in small wire pens, often stacked one on top of the other so the urine and the feces of the ones on top drip down to the ones underneath. The urine and feces stench is often so bad it burns the eyes. The dogs are fed the cheapest dog food imaginable to keep costs low, often just enough to just barely sustain life. Dogs often attack and may eat each other because of starvation. Females are bred their first heat and every heat after that until they no longer produce puppies. Then they are sold at auction or are killed (shot). Females are only able to produce puppies for a few years because their bodies get so ravaged because of their treatment. The dogs get minimal if any veterinary care and broken bones are left to heal on their own. Their teeth often rot out after only a few years because of the lack of nutrition. They are often covered with sore from their cramped living conditions. They receive very little if any human interaction. Puppies are often born and raised on chicken wire, or urine soaked dirt or wood floors. Sometimes there is very little protection from the weather. Often the mothers are not able to care for her puppies for very long because of nutritional deficits so they are weaned way too early before they have full benefit of their mother’s milk. Puppies receive little to no social interaction and since they are kept in small wire cages they learn to urinate where they sleep (making them very hard to house train later). When they are about 6 weeks to 8 weeks are sold to brokers who ship them in wire cages on large trucks, often without proper ventilation, food or water to the pet stores where they are cleaned up and put in that window. More than half of all puppies do not survive the trip from the mill to the store. Those that do are stressed and sick with all types of acquired diseases as well as unknown genetic diseases that may not be readily apparent. At the pet stores they continue to be kept in the wire cages. Those that are too sick to be put out on the floor are kept in back rooms. While the details may vary from puppy mill to puppy mill, all have the same goals...to mass produce puppies, minimize cost, maximize profit.
Often well meaning people, who feel sorry for the puppy and buy that puppy in the window end up with a lot of heartache and vet bills, in addition to an unsocialized maladjusted puppy. More disastrous though is the fact that when someone buys a puppy from a puppy mill they are just openeding more cage space for yet another puppy mill puppy. And the parents of that puppy will continue to live in deplorable conditions in order to produce more puppies for that “window.” As long as there is a demand for that doggy in the window the puppy mills will continue to operate. SO if you are looking for a puppy, do your research, look for ethical reputable caring breeders and next time you see a doggy in the window…ask yourself “How much does that doggy in the window really cost?”