How to make effective change
I have been reading and telling the story of shunning puppy mills for 40 years, and they are still with us. Education and awareness will not make them go away because there are too many unwitting people in the world.
However, there are hints of ways to make possible changes that will help the situation a lot. Public push for regulation and enforcement has been an important impetus for change, but we need more.
A family member got me a pet shop puppy as a gift when I was going through a very rough time in my life. That is generally an unwise thing to do, but my dog is a gem and did make me feel better. The pet shop had him well socialized, kept him clean and exercised. They sold to anyone but required the buyers to fork over several thousand dollars up-front, which then gave them a year of free vet care at a local clinic including agreement to neuter.
I think something like this as a law would go a long way in stopping impulse buys and ensuring proper puppy care and population control. My puppy came with up to date vaccinations. Because the law required the seller to do inoculations, and prove it by affixing the inoculation sticker to the paperwork as solid proof.
My family member signed a contract that included a 'waiver' of existing animal welfare laws, such as laws in place that require ensured health, or remedy of taking animal back....such laws should be universal, unable to be waived and strictly enforced by all who sell puppies.
I think those selling purebreds with known testable health problems should be required to test the parents for these problems before they are used for breeding, and should be required to disclose certification that the parents are clear of such defects or fully disclose any defects.
My puppy came with paperwork that gave the name of the breeder. Sadly I tracked this down and realized it was on the list of 'the horrible hundred' puppy mill. In the past this puppy mill had a fire that killed 'unknown' number of animals breeding in a barn. They had been cited in the past for poor conditions and poor animal health. Some changes were made thanks to the Inspectors issuing citations with follow-up, but there needs to be more accountability.
I found online pictures of what I think were my pup's parents. The mother is sitting in a stain-soaked plywood whelping box/dog house leading out to a catwalk with metal chain-link-fence like flooring. Some of the cited dogs had blisters on their feet from walking on cage bars. I love my pup very much, but I am saddened to think of his mother living in such conditions, and the fate of all his many brothers and sisters.
In the past I have worked with responsible breeders who were on-top of their litters; they tested for health, were willing to take animals back, and let buyers know if an issue developed with the parents or littermates that might reflect on the pups. Working with a conscientious breeder who will keep in touch with you and help you train and work with your pet is by far the preferred method.
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