There is no doubt in my mind that man’s best friend is the dog.
I like dogs and I love my dog. One of the things that angers and saddens me the most is to see a puppy caged by itself behind a pane of glass, waiting to be sold.
It completely breaks my heart.
I’m strongly against pet shops that sell puppies like that. And until now, I’ve yet to step into any pet shop in Singapore that treat puppies better than that. Like me, many people and animal welfare groups are against such treatment of puppies. And rightly so, they have called for an end to puppy mills that supply these pet shops with animals.
Puppy mills are inhumane. They are a factory where a bitch produces litter after litter of puppies, just for sale at exorbitant margins. Living conditions are poor and there is hardly any welfare for the animals and the puppies are usually sold to pet shops even before they are completely weaned and before they receive all their shots. One could speculate that for every puppy you see in a pet shop, at least one would have failed to live past 8 weeks of age.
Understandably, advocacy groups are urging people to adopt a dog instead of buying one, as a way to hit back at mills where it hurts – by cutting demand. Besides, there are many abandoned dogs which will be put down if they are unable to be rehomed.
I think adopting a pet is a great way to give the dog a 2nd shot in life. That definitely helps to ease the problems of rehoming abandoned dogs but that’s not going to solve the unethical breeding and profiting of puppy mills.
However, the law needs to be stricter with breeding licenses; not just granting them but also enforcing a minimum level of welfare required of a breeder. No puppies are to be sold less than 3 months old. Proper veterinary care must be duly given, including all vaccination shots, before a puppy can be sold. Bitches cannot be forced to breed continuously straight after every litter and their number of litters in a lifetime must be capped.
This is all just wishful thinking.
I’m convinced that people who run puppy mills will find ways to get around this and if a stricter law is put in place, it might even drive them underground. There is simply too much money to be made from sale of puppies.
My hope is in getting people to understand how important it is to get a pet from a responsible breeder. Letting the buyers decide what is acceptable and what isn’t, is probably a better way to hit back at some puppy mills.
The next time you’re out looking for a puppy, be sure to go straight to the breeder. Go and see the puppies. They should be socializing with their littermates, and actively playing. The environment they are in must be clean and big enough for the animals to roam freely. Talk to the breeder and ask questions, find out how many litters they’ve had. Ask to meet the father of the litter. Play with puppies and take your time in deciding which one you want to bring home to your family. A good breeder will never rush you and will be very open to all your questions. In fact, a truly responsible breeder will ask you many questions, just to make sure that you are ready and able to care for a dog. I’ve read that some breeders even visit your place give you advice on whether your home is dog-ready.
If you think you are ready for a dog to be part of your life, do the right thing – skip the pet shops and go look for a breeder who also loves dogs. You’ll know it when you find one and your dog will be more socialized, healthier and you can be sure that your puppy would have been given the best start in life possible.
(p.s. I still believe there is a special place in hell for people who run puppy mills.)