Good puppy breeders are driven to improve their chosen breed and produce healthy, happy, well-socialized dogs. This takes time, effort and know-how. When looking for a good breeder, you often need to do research, answer and ask loads of questions, visit the breeder in person and then wait until a puppy is available. So how is it that thousands of puppies in every breed, size and color are sitting in pet stores or online just waiting for someone to buy them?
There is an entire industry built on the breeding and sale of puppies that most people don’t know much about—and that is just how this industry wants it. Here are five things you may not know about the cruel trade behind all of those readily available purebred puppies.
1. They are supposed to be regulated by the federal government.
Commercial dog breeders are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture—yes, Agriculture, the department that oversees farmers and food—if they produce puppies who are sold wholesale to pet stores, middlemen and online sellers. There are about 2,000 such facilities currently licensed in the country. Federal inspectors generally visit once a year—but if a facility has a “good record,” it may be inspected as infrequently as every three years.
2. The dogs they use for breeding are not pets.
Dogs kept in commercial facilities have one job: to make puppies. It is easier and cheaper to keep lots of breeding dogs if they live in cages, which take up little space and can be stacked on top of each other. Unlike crates or kennels that we all might use sometimes, cages are the dogs’ only home. These cages are where these dogs sleep, eat, pee and poop every day for their entire lives.
3. The puppies have behavioral issues.
Puppies born in commercial facilities have a high prevalence of behavior problems, including persistent barking, anxiety and issues with housetraining.
4. It’s about volume, and the puppies are inventory.
Pet shops (both in your neighborhood and the online kind) might not buy directly from commercial breeders. Pet stores and other retail sellers source pups from dog brokers, who serve as a clearinghouse so sellers can easily find and buy a certain breed at a certain price point. These dog brokers round up available puppies and arrange transportation to the final seller. This usually involves trucks filled with puppies traveling across multiple states. Pet retailers can accept or reject the puppies on delivery. We really don’t know what happens to the puppies who get rejected.
5. They spend $$ on lobbyists.
To ensure their business isn’t affected by regulations that might limit their ability to make a profit, the pet industry has lobbyists working on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures to fight against increased protections for the animals in their care.
Want to learn more about where puppies come from and what the ASPCA is doing to tackle cruel breeding? Visit our Barred From Love campaign and help us spread the word!