You may have seen the ad that we’ve had running on 7x7.com for the past few weeks. You may even have written us an irate email or two about running ads for puppy sales. Those of you who did are in the loop about the fact that if you buy a dog online, it is most likely coming from a puppy mill. Those of you who haven’t been in the loop yet, don’t feel sheepish - it turns out that most people don’t know that. But now, you do know. So what do you do?
Never, ever buy a puppy online.
The SF SPCA Veterinary hospital and intake team at the adoption center see a lot of dogs with chronic health problems that result from overbreeding and inbreeding. Many of these dogs come from puppy mills. In fact, a staggeringly large number, about 30% of San Francisco’s 150,000+ dogs, are purchased online, which almost certainly means that they are coming from puppy mills.
What’s so bad about puppy mills?
- In puppy mills, the breeding dogs are bred as often as possible to increase profits and will probably never see life outside the mill. Breeders rarely pay attention to the health or happiness of the dogs. When female dogs can no longer produce profitable litters, they're usually killed.
- Because profit is the main incentive, puppies are often weaned from their mother too early so they can be sold and the mother can give birth to another litter as quickly as possible. Puppies who are weaned too early often experience health problems, and can even die soon after arriving at their new home.
- In addition to the medical problems associated with puppy mill dogs, many have emotional and behavioral problems because they have not been properly socialized. The first few months of age make up the most crucial socialization period for dogs!
- Breeding dogs in puppy mills are often "debarked" so they cannot make noise. This physically painful procedure is often performed by the owner, and also causes the dogs to suffer psychologically from being deprived of such a natural means of expression.
- Puppy mills that sell directly to the public, including over the internet, are not licensed, regulated, or required to adhere to the Animal Welfare Act. They are not accountable to anyone for their standards of care.
Knowing that San Franciscans pride themselves on patronizing local, organic farms, supporting ethically raised meat and sustainable fish, it was surprising that when it comes to dogs, most people don’t know that their four-legged family members are coming from some of the most inhumane conditions imaginable.