Hello everyone! Just a random post/rant about something that has recently returned to my attention and it bugged me so much that I felt the need to moan about it and raise awareness, so I would really, REALLY appreciate it if you read it all the way through (especially if you are looking to purchase a dog) and I hope it will provide some education regarding the pet industry!!
Okay, so this isn’t the first animal/pet-related post I have written; you can see my post about the Chinese Yulin Festival here and the Tihar Festival in Nepal here, two very different festivals and I know I’ll be supporting the latter. I noticed someone complaining on social media that people were criticising her family for buying a puppy rather than adopting a dog from a shelter, and the only thing that I could think about was not why they chose to buy instead of adopt, but where they purchased their puppy from.Since Wally was brought into our lives when R’s mum adopted him last December, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with dogs all over again. I have always loved dogs, we used to own a medium-sized Yorkshire Terrier called Pebbles who reached the grand age of sixteen, and my nan bought herself a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Duke shortly after who lived until he was twelve. I actually thought I had lost my love for dogs as I’m a bit of a germ-freak when it comes to animals tbh and I didn’t have any, if much, interaction with animals since the last dog in the family died which was a good 4-5 years before Wally came along.Wally sparked a new-found love for dogs in me after we had to collect him and then puppy-sat him a fair few times. I wasn’t that interested in him at first unlike R who was absolutely ecstatic that there was another dog in the family since the loss of their previous dog. However just like everyone else, Wally had me melted at the heart and I was putty in his paws. Since then I have wanted my own dog, and I think it would be a good opportunity to get me out of the house, into a new community, meeting new people, exercising and receiving unconditional love from a loyal companion. I get quite lonely but I can’t afford one at the moment because I work full-time and I wouldn’t get one until I can drive anyway, of course that doesn’t stop me looking at all the different breeds available and purchasing puppy training books to give me a head start on what I will need to know when the time comes.I do a lot of searching online on sites such as Pets4Homes and Preloved for dog ads, and this is where my rant comes in; you have to be REALLY careful where you buy your puppies from!! There are tons of ads from puppy mills/farms as well as, what they call, ‘backyard breeders’. These are NOT the sort of breeders you want to be encouraging. Some take little consideration of the wellbeing and environment of their dogs with their main aim to make as much money as possible and often get the bitch pregnant as soon as she is in heat again. I’ve heard horror stories where they have been kept in cramped cages in really unhygienic conditions whilst being utterly terrified of anyone who approaches them. It’s absolutely disgusting, effectively raping a bitch and selling her babies! Dogs are not breeding machines; they are not there for you to earn money from!! They are pets and should be considered a member of the family/team!Whilst I was searching online, there were a bunch of ads for at least 5 different breeds of litters, some of which were crossbred and it looked like one stud was used for three different bitches, and each photo was taken in the exact same setting (not pictured above). It isn’t difficult to spot an obvious puppy breeder, as you can see from the picture above which I found more recently; it’s very clear that these puppies are from the same breeder just from the location and photo-style. Puppy mills attempt to make their photos look professional and photogenic, often putting them in nice backgrounds or on nice surfaces whereas professional breeders are less about making the dog look pretty and more about showing the dog’s coat/body/health clearly; it’s clear in this example that a Poodle stud was used to mate with the Shihtzu and Maltese. Whilst this may look like a decent seller, just from the fact that they are selling a varying number of breeds is an obvious red flag – STAY AWAY no matter how professional/knowledgeable they may seem.
I decided to click on one of these adverts to see what they say; they give a little description of the breed of dog and the puppies themselves, and claim that all puppies are vet checked, vaccinated, microchipped, flead and wormed with four weeks free pet insurance, full after care service, a free bag of Royal Canin puppy food and a special discount voucher for their 12 week vaccinations (for specific vet surgeries only). They also boast that they work with the Willows Veterinary Group and their 17 surgeries around the country. According to the advert, the seller is listed under ‘Kelly’s Kennels’ the website states they are a ‘fully licenced breeding establishment’ running to ‘a high standard under veterinary supervision’ and have apparently been breeding for three generations. They are open all year round (bear that in mind for what I say later) and are licenced with the Warrington Borough Council; they say a lot of other stuff about buying their dogs from accredited breeders whom they know and trust, have facilities of the highest standards, and ensure any dogs they buy receive a high standard of care etc.
Can I just add though that it does not state ANYWHERE that they are KC registered? If they were a KC registered breeder then you could trust that they were a reputable breeder and would be able to find them on the KC website, but they are not and that has another alarm bell ringing because ofc they could say they are licenced with such-a-such council for a business licence but that doesn’t mean they are following the correct regulations for the animals’ welfare, whereas being registered with KC will ensure that. The majority of breeders will get their litter registered but none of their puppies on the adverts are listed as being registered with the Kennel Club.
Anyway apart from that, everything they say all sounds amazing like you can really trust them and feel confident that you are going to be buying a puppy of impeccable quality! To most people they would seem like the perfect place to buy from but despite their practice you’ll never know what is going on behind closed doors; where is the money and effort mainly focused? Are their ‘accredited’ breeders really accredited? Have the parents been health checked?Too many breeds to be a trusted breeder, this just screams mill/farm to me. Most people who buy are either ignorant of how the process of buying a puppy should be (accidental supporters), want a fuss-free purchase or just don’t care. Another note is that the response stated “if you were viewing a Cavapoo then you are correct their are no parents here to view as they have not been breed here” which is worrying in itself as there is no way for you to know where that puppy even came from.
It really is difficult to find a puppy online and be sure of whether or not you’re getting a healthy specimen of the breed. I’ve read about people bringing a puppy home only for it to die shortly after due to its poor health, or have some terrible health problem because the breeder didn’t care for it properly or get any health issues spotted quickly by a vet. Many end up with deformities or enhanced problems (e.g. a pug that suffers breathing difficulties which is common in the breed, may suffer worse if bred in a puppy mill) that new owners later have to deal with when they thought they were buying a healthy puppy.Even if a puppy mill has what some may consider high standards selling healthy puppies you can never be sure of how high their standards really are. If the RSPCA has been called and they have been inspected, then by running just within regulations with regards to the welfare of their dogs they won’t be shut down. The only way we can help to shut them down is by not purchasing from them, and educating others with regards to puppy mills/farms so that less people will buy from such places.Okay so you might suggest that the breeder doesn’t work and they really are breeding for a living, but my argument is that unless you are breeding an expensive breed (such as high-class security dogs or rare breeds like the British Inuit dog) then there is no money in breeding dogs. Breeding is an expensive procedure what with all the food and vet bills you have to consider (maternity check-ups, potential caesareans, and then individual puppy check-ups, worming, flea checks, vaccinations etc.), that by the time you sell the puppies to their new homes (often with puppy food and something with their family’s scent on, sometimes flea treatment and insurance) you are barely breaking even unless you are cutting back some where.
Usually a family dog got accidentally pregnant or the family really wanted the rewarding experience of their bitch having a litter and researched a suitable sire; any breeders that are official and that do this regularly should be registered and recognised as registered breeders, therefore making them a trustworthy and reputable breeder who usually specialise in a specific breed and work with high standards and proper procedures. Being registered is the difference between being an authentic breeder and being a backyard breeder; even if you don’t own a puppy farm, if you breed your animals without a licence then you still come under the term whether you’re a ‘top-notch’ breeder who really cares about their pups or someone who hasn’t a care and is just looking for a quick buck. Anyone selling a number of different breeds regardless of their practice is considered a puppy mill/farm and it would be wise for everyone to avoid from buying these places.
So how can you spot a backyard or puppy farm breeder from a genuine or registered breeder? Here’s how:
- The seller has a large number of puppies or always has puppies available.
- High number of advertisements listed to buy puppies from the same seller.
- The seller has a number of different, ‘new’ or ‘rare’ breeds for sale.
- The seller focuses mainly on the appearance of the puppies.
- The puppies are sometimes available to leave before they are 8 weeks old.
- The seller claims to be selling puppies as an ‘agent’ for the breeder.
- The seller doesn’t allow you to see the breeding parents (or at least mother) or the location the puppies are kept.
- The seller wants to meet publically to close the sale, and only discusses payment and pick-up arrangements (some offer a courier service).
And also look out for:
- Someone trying to sell puppies on the side of the road or everyday events such as garage sales or flea markets, or who advertises them for gifts.
- The seller claims that neutering the puppies is not necessary, or attempts to sell them in opposite sex pairs to encourage breeding.
- The seller is selling puppies all year round – most official breeders prevent selling puppies around the holidays to prevent them from being given ‘as a gift’.
The above should set alarm bells ringing in your head and you should aim to stay away from that breeder/seller, however some breeders may be more than ready to cover their tracks; a seller who wishes to meet you publically for a handover is definitely a big giveaway as they are trying to hide the operation they run from potential buyers, however if they invite you to the property to view the puppies then you should look out for the following:
- Foul odour where the dogs are kept or chemical smells such as bleach or deodorisers trying to cover up a bad smell.
- Poor appearance of dogs – their appearance is a key indicator to their health, especially their eyes, nose, weight, and the state of their coat.
- Dogs that are aggressive or extremely fearful of human interaction.
- Dogs that are kept in cramped, unhygienic or exposed living conditions.
- Dogs that do not have access to food and clean water.
- Numbers of animals are too high for those on location (unless they run shifts or have a system for individualised care) – this could indicate that each dog is not given enough time for exercise, socialisation and general welfare checks.
- The breeding parents (or mother) is unavailable to be viewed or kept off-site, or there is only one breeding bitch.
- The breeder is unsure of how many litters the mother has produced or the bloodlines of the litter.
- Dogs that are sleeping or lethargic.
- The breeder lacks knowledge about the breeds they are selling.
- The seller refuses to give details of the veterinarian that they use.
Hopefully by this point you have explained that you’ll think on it and not get yourself to the point that you’ll make a transaction there and then, so I won’t go into what to look out for when money starts getting involved. If you suspect somewhere of being a puppy farm, do not hesitate to call your equivalent of the RSPCA to check them out, especially if you have been able to visit the site.Most of the time though, breeders are concerned for the wellbeing of their puppies and most will do the following:
- Request to be spoken to by phone not email or text.
- Ask for a deposit to secure the chosen puppy to ensure that there are no time wasters.
- Let you visit the puppies on site with their mother.
- If the sire is not present, they usually have photos.
- Have had the litter KC registered.
- Ask questions about your experience, home environment and time management with regards to the puppy.
- Provide paperwork of the puppies and parents, including vet information, bloodline history and any health issues present.
- Allow puppies for collection after they are 8 weeks and have been weaned from mother.
- Send puppies away wormed and flea-free, vet checked with first set of vaccinations, with current puppy food and toy with family scent, paperwork, and sometimes with 4 weeks free insurance and chip.
- Request updates of how the puppy is adapting to their new life.
- Will take the puppy back if their new owners are no longer able to keep it.
There might be more but this is at least what Wally’s breeder did when R’s mum adopted him; her dog wasn’t neutered and the farm’s working dog mated with her, so the pregnancy was unexpected but the owner did everything expected of her to ensure the mother and puppies were well looked after. They were kept in the warmth of the kitchen with a large area sectioned off, with bedding, toys, food and water, and mum was only removed when they were weaned. Another good thing is if the puppies were raised around children, other pets, and normal household noises, as this prepares them for when they enter their new home, especially if you do have children and other pets.So please, please, please when you look to buy a puppy, make sure you check out all the signs first to ensure you are not buying from a puppy farm or a bad backyard breeder! Unfortunately some people are either blind to this or are fine with purchasing from someone treating the puppy adoption like it’s a drug deal because there are less questions asked, which is why so many unsuitable people end up with dogs in their possession! Ask LOTS of questions to ensure that you are comfortable and know everything you need to know, if the seller starts to slip and seems to know very little then get out of there and don’t buy from them, call the RSPCA and have them investigated.
You could save a lot of pups lives and if any of them do need urgent medical attention then they’ll get it, because sometimes these pet farms use unqualified or retired dodgy vets. Think of the poor bitches that are forced to be mated with every time they are in heat, pregnant several times a year and producing countless amounts of litters that are putting immense strain on her body; she’s probably in some shitty living condition with enough room to stand up in, surrounded by tons of other dogs and very scared, just so these slave-driving bastards can sell puppies non-stop.If you are looking to buy a dog, then please ask yourself if you have done the following:
- Why do you want a dog? – Are you buying the dog as a gift for someone because if you are, stop right there. Dogs ARE NOT GIFTS. They are living-and-breathing-for-the-next-10-or-so-years beings, they’re not flowers or a cheap teddy bear; they cost a lot of money to keep and a lot of effort on your part. It might light up a child’s face for the first week, but when you’re the one waking up at 2am from it howling, being dragged by it at 6am for its walk in the rain, or having to clean up any accidents it might make, then you really need to consider whether that week of smiles is worth it.
- Are you able to give the dog the time and resources it needs? – Dogs are not just there for YOUR convenience, dogs also need to be social and loved with someone there to care for them. If you work full-time and are unable to get someone to dog-sit, pop in to let it out or take it for a walk/play, then it really isn’t a good idea that you get one. So many people get themselves a dog, unaware of how much time they actually need and how much attention they need to prevent them from getting bored and this is what leads to ads like “Molly needs to be re-homed through no fault of her own, unfortunately we cannot give her the time that she needs so she needs a home who can give her lots of attention and take her for walks daily”. If your guilt at leaving your dog on its own every day isn’t what makes you re-home it, then the tearing up of your house through its sheer boredom just might.
- Do you have any experience with dogs? – So many people who want a dog will go straight out and buy themselves a puppy, but how do you know what to do if you’ve never owned one before? Sure you could go through the learning curve of having your carpets ruined and your shoes chewed because you didn’t expect a puppy to make so much mess being left on its own for an hour, but is that really what you want? Puppies especially take a lot of energy and your constant attention (we could barely take our eyes off of Wally for a second before he had an illegal item in his mouth); some say that the responsibility and commitment can prepare you for a baby but the type of care they require is COMPLETELY different. If you are prepared to be housebound with the puppy until it has had all of its jabs so that it can go out without catching a disease, can watch it constantly and take it for loo breaks on the hour, read up on those puppy guide books and attend training classes, then by all means get a puppy, but if you are inexperienced in looking after dogs why not ask to borrow a friend’s pup or even pup-sit for them? You could volunteer at your local dog shelter as a dog walker or sign up to Borrowmydoggy.com where they’ll match you up with a dog in your area to take care of for a few hours. If you don’t think you can handle a puppy then do check out Pets4Homes and your local dog shelter’s listings to see if there are any suitable dogs you could give a second chance to (usually already house trained and socialised I might add).
- Have you thought about what breed of dog best suits you? – If you can answer the three top questions confidentially then congrats, you might be ready to get a puppy/dog. Unfortunately a lot of people buy certain breeds such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Siberian Huskies, Dogue de Bordeaux etc. because they look cool or are ‘cool breeds’. People also forget that these dogs are high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise, and this is why SO many of these breeds end up for adoption because their owners just can’t handle them or give them the time they need. You need to think about what kind of circumstances you’re in and what kind of person you are before deciding on a breed; do you have lots of time and energy to take a hyperactive cocker spaniel to the woods and run him ragged, or are you one for curling up on the sofa after a day of 8 hours work? You need to consider whether your personality and energy levels will match theirs otherwise you’ll end up struggling, and if you are bummed because all of the dogs you considered getting won’t like lounging around being inactive, then maybe getting a dog isn’t a good idea especially if the ones you had in mind looked cool – best stick with, I dunno, some fish or a cat.
So that’s the end of my massive dog-related rant! I just really wanted to raise awareness because these days so many end up in the shelter because their owners failed to do their research beforehand, or they get ill because they were bought from a puppy farm. There are too many people owning dogs for the wrong reasons, and therefore looking after them poorly because of it. I just wanted to raise awareness of puppy mills and give some pointers on what to think about before getting a dog. As much as I’d like a dog, I can’t give it the time it needs right now. That’s not to say that if you do work full-time then you can’t have a dog, you just need to be prepared to arrange a more structured routine for the dog especially with regards to getting someone in to let it out for a pee-break in the middle of the day, and to be prepared for using a lot of your spare time making up for the attention the dog lacked whilst you were at work.Volunteering for dog care is a rewarding use of your time and when I can drive I do hope to look into it, whether I volunteer as a dog walker at my local shelter or offer to care for dogs in my local area for a few hours. Since I can’t even do that right now, I am determined to help my local dogs! I plan to set up a monthly direct-debit donation to my local dog and cat shelter, it’s not much but every little helps especially since the majority of these places rely purely on private donations to run and cover expenses! I’ve wanted to donate to a charity for a while now, especially an animal charity, but wasn’t sure what kind. Donating to my local shelter is a charity I think that will definitely benefit from my donation!The other main point is just to give it a big thought first; it might be super fun and amazing to own a dog, but a lot of effort, hardship and expenses comes with owning one. It wasn’t long before the novelty wore off for R that I ended up paying more attention to the puppy than he did and after looking after Wally, he agrees with me that it isn’t ideal for him to get one right now. Especially when they are young and unable to go out or incredibly bitey like Wally was, it’s not all fun and games. Until next time~ ♥