Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog the Change for Animals: Where'd you get your dog?

January 15th is the day slated for the annual Farmerstown, Ohio dog auctions. It doesn't have a more romantic name because, well, it's not intimate.  It's heartless. Unkind. The sort of event that makes this dog trainer lover hurl.

They do just that: they auction off dogs to be bred to make more puppies to make more money by being sold to the public or auctioned off again. The cycle just won't quit.

Dogs aren't companions in this game. They aren't cute, fuzzy, hilarious critters that make your heart melt. In this world, they come with price tags, barcodes and numbers instead of names.

I'm not telling this story because I am high-and-mighty and want others to feel ashamed for not knowing the dark world of puppy mills. I support the anti-puppy mill movements because it hits me on a personal level.

I didn't know what puppy mills are.

I adopted a puppy mill dog:

Let me be more specific: I didn't think that happened in my town. I thought that happened somewhere else, in someone else's city.

I rant this rant not because I'm blaming people who own puppy mill pups; I'm not chastizing anyone for buying a dog from the Internet, a shady breeder, or a pet store. I'm angry at the law makers that don't stop this madness. I'm pissed that no one from the industry will educate consumers about what goes on behind the scenes. No one told me what to look for when buying a dog until I started asking "why is my new puppy so high-strung and anxious all the time?" "Why does she have so many issues!?" It wasn't until the store was under scrutiny that I realized, "holy crap. What have I done?"

I'm not blaming the pet owner here. You don't know what you don't know.

Education is key.

If you absolutely want to buy from a breeder
Pssst: no reputable breeder would sell to a pet store. They take too much pride in their dogs to just pass them off for some quick bucks. They don't want some Joe-Schmoe from off the streets adopting their dogs. They want their dogs going to the best homes possible. Speaking for Spot has an excellent article in their blog describing what to look for in a good breeder.

If you want to avoid (and STOP) puppy mills
Websites like this, this and this have a lot of information on how to stop puppy mills.

Adopt from a shelter
Look, I know some people will disagree. Hell, I might even purchase from a breeder in the future (after a lot of research!!!) I'm torn - I say breeder but my heart says shelter. Shelter dogs need a home, that's all there is to it. And shelters are full of dogs that were given up for behavior problems that can be easily solved with a good trainer such as jumping, house-training, etc.

Just don't get your dog from a puppy mill
They are everywhere. Yourtown, USA is not exempt. Don't think "oh, this pet store is really clean. It doesn't look like a place that would take part in something shady." That's part of the gig. A pig with lipstick on. Satan in a Sunday hat.

Animals are suffering and people who take part in stupid things like Dog Auctions are just helping the hurt.

Be the Change, Blog the Change. Spread the word about puppy mills and dog auctions.


  1. Thanks for your post which I think deserves a wider audience.

    I found you on the blog hop today and I'm glad I did.

    Love and licks from Winnie the Greyhound

  2. I'm trying to get to 'em young; I talk about this issue all the time to my elementary students. I got my brindle girl (also named Winnie!) from a big, high-kill, city shelter. She is a gem. Sure, we had to work very hard to train her, but she is a very sweet tempered dog.

    We've done some fostering for Labs4rescue, which is a wonderful organization. You wouldn't believe how many beautiful, purebred Labs there are who need homes. Even if people are looking for a purebred dog, shelters and rescues should be the first stop.

    Great article!

  3. Oh, Winnie! Thanks for stopping by, even after your surprise vet visit yesterday! I don't fault your LOTH one bit for pampering you: you're gorgeous ;)

    We're happy you've joined us - we hope you enjoy Paws to Rufflect.

  4. Arielle - Such a smart idea, I'm glad there are people like you taking opportunities to educate!

    And you're soooo right! People think shelter dogs are scummy riddled with issues when in reality, they go through a much more rigorous behavioral and health exam than those poor puppy mill pups!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Thanks for talking about puppymills, the more and more everyone keeps talking about it the more people get educated. They are a huge problem in Missouri but I know Ohio is not far behind. Thanks for highlighting it as your cause!

  6. Thank you's terrible that many animal lovers out there don't understand what's going on behind the scenes. If more people knew, it would be easier to demand stricter animal protection laws for these poor dogs (and other animals!)

    Thanks for stopping by Ellie... :)

  7. Found you through the blog hop.

    Thank you for helping raise awareness of where animals come from, AND raise awareness that there are plenty of lovely animals in shelters waiting for the perfect home.


    Mary Hunter

  8. You said it all, thanks for the reminder

  9. Mary - Thanks for stopping by on the blog hop! Such a great day for pet bloggers where we all get to talk about topics close to our hearts. I'm glad you enjoyed the read and look forward to seeing you here again!

  10. It's always good to see you Kenzo! :)

  11. Great post - thanks for writing about this issue. The more awareness, the better!

  12. Thanks for visiting, Pup Fan, and for all the things you do for doggies!!

  13. Great topic, E! We don't have pet stores who sell purebreds in my town, but we've got backyard breeders all over the place. Thanks for highlighting such an important cause.

  14. You know Vicky, I've been hearing more and more about pet stores that are selling rescue dogs, which I think is such a cool that what you're talking about in your town?

    A trainer friend of mine set up a "boutique" store as a "shelter" - they didn't have dogs longer than 48 hours because it seemed more pet-store like. Crazy, huh!?

  15. Puppy mills are a hot topic for today's Blog the Change and your perspective offers valuable insight into our need for education. People don't always understand the abusive cycles of mill life.

    Up until my mid-twenties I was pretty ignorant. My first introduction to the reality of puppy mills incited disbelief just before the anger surfaced. Now, heavily immersed in the community of local rescue and online animal advocacy, I have to refrain from judgment when others still don't know. What seems so obvious to us all isn't always obvious to others.

    Thank you for putting this is into a non-judgmental but informative perspective.

    Thanks for Blogging the Change!

  16. Thanks Kim, It still feels reassuring to hear that I'm not the only one who felt duped when I found out. And once you know, it's hard to look away and very easy to point the anger in the wrong direction...

    With you being so actively involved in animal welfare, it must take a toll on your spirit. But keep fighting the fight and thank you for all that you do!

  17. Thanks for this great post! Many people just don't know. It's not because they don't care, they just never before considered the idea that pet store puppies may not be born from rainbows and sunshine. It's a hard realisatation. The public is not to blame, the terrible breeders are. The governments that allow them to operate and pet stores that sell dogs are. Like you say, education is key. The more people know about the horrifying conditions, the hopefully more these puppy mills will be shut down. It takes time and work.

    Up until a year or so ago I thought correction training was perfectly acceptable. It wasn't until it didn't work with my rescue dog that I educated myself and found out how harmful it is. We don't know, until we know. But when we know, it is impossible to go back.

    Good on you for speaking out and sharing your perspective. It is a brave act for sure.

  18. Thanks for pointing out that reputable breeders are very strict about who their dogs go to, and wouldn't just sell them to a pet store! We knew a breeder (her first dogs are Lily's grandparents) whose children had severe allergies, and she started breeding maltipoos because she could sell them to people who wanted pets but were allergic. She worked so hard with those dogs, giving them the best care, making sure the puppies were actually housetrained by the time they were able to leave their mother, and screening and interviewing each person who wanted to buy one. She would have never given a puppy to someone who didn't seem like they had a wonderful home to offer it! We HOPE most breeders are like this, and are much different from puppy mills.

  19. Kristine - I was also a crossover trainer and like you said: it's impossible to go back. As I was using correction training, I would have NEVER allowed someone to tell me that I must not care about my dogs - they were (are) the world to me. I just had no idea the harm I was causing until it didn't work!

  20. Nicki (also Trixie, Lily, and Sammy-Joe) - I hate to rule out all breeders for that very reason: there are GOOD breeders out there dedicated to bettering the breed. I always tell people that NO good breeder will sacrifice the dog's welfare for anything. I'm glad you were able to find a breeder doing good things for pups and their families!

  21. Education IS key. If everyone who reads this just commits to telling three people what they've learned (and actually does), we can create change. Please share this information!

  22. You're absolutely right, Kyla. We can spread this message like wildfire!