It is believed that over 10,000 dogs per year originate from UK puppy farms. The practice of breeding dogs solely for money takes place predominantly in Wales and Ireland. The puppies are then transported around the UK and abroad by dealers, to be sold in pet shops and through newspaper adverts.
Tragically, the puppies are bred purely for profit, without consideration for their well being. The breeding animals are confined in old barns, sheds, vans or cages without sunlight, exercise, adequate nutrition or health care. They are rarely, if ever, cleaned out. Fleas, worms, skin conditions, disease and death are common.
The dogs and bitches are regarded only as money-makers. They are never loved as family members to be stroked and played with. The breeding process begins as soon as the bitch comes into season for the first time. Litters are born onto faeces and remain with their mother for a short a time as possible. Puppies are often removed before they are weaned. The bitches are then bred from as often as possible until they stop producing puppies. They now have no value and are dumped or killed.
The temperament of the parents does not matter to a puppy farmer, so genetic flaws are usually ignored. The puppy will be unhandled, unsocialised, unhealthy and likely to cost the new owner both financially through high vet bills and emotionally as their puppy becomes ill, aggressive or nervous.
Common Health Problems
Gastroenteritis, distemper, parvovirus, mange, fleas, worms, hip dysplasia, heart defects, deafness, and bone deformities are frequent in pups from puppy farms.
These are mass puppy producers who may sell direct to the public but often breed for the wholesale market, selling whole litters on to dealers or selling individual puppies to pet shops to fulfil orders. Ethical dog breeding is not a profitable pastime. Puppies raised purely for their sales value will not be reared in optimum conditions, indeed puppy mortality will be high and general health and care very poor.
There are three important factors to consider where puppy farms are concerned.
- Temperament, health and type will have been ignored. Any fertile bitch or dog will have been used, even if aggressive, nervous, sickly or with known genetic faults. These pups are produced for quick cash sales so once sold no further responsibility attaches itself to the puppy farmer.
- No socialisation will have been given to the puppy-farmed pup, no careful handling, no confidence building care. A puppy that is already nervous or aggressive as a result of poor breeding will have these faults compounded by inadequate rearing. The puppy-farmed puppy will at greater risk from hereditary defects and from the consequences of spending his early life in damp, dirty conditions, with inadequate food and no veterinary attention except early inoculation to stave off the diseases that flourish on puppy farms.
- Any papers, documents or undertakings attached to puppy farmed puppies must be treated with scepticism. Pedigrees are worthless, information unreliable and after sales support zero.
Pet shops and dealers
No puppy should ever be sold through a third party, nor from premises other than the breeders own. A responsible and caring breeder will want to make sure that her puppies are placed in loving permanent homes, will want to keep in touch and offer help and advice wherever needed.
Pet Shops and dealers simply sell to anyone who has the money to buy, regardless their circumstance or sincerity.
Pet Shops buy in their “stock” from puppy farms. They may buy a batch of puppies, or if they have limited space, they buy to order. Although they may offer a money back guarantee, this is rarely called on in practice – no matter what the problems, most people do not want to return a puppy shortly after purchase. It is still small and appealing and buyers will (quite rightly) be fearful of the puppy’s fate if returned to the shop or dealer.
By the time the purchaser becomes bored of the puppy or the problems become too severe to handle, the puppy will no longer be ‘guaranteed’ and is no longer the shop or dealer’s problem. Pet shops and dealers thrive on the impulse buyer and the “must have now” mentality, they promote puppies for sale as Xmas presents and as toys for children. No decent pet shop will stock or order puppies for resale and thankfully some local authorities work hard to make sure that this kind of business is strongly discouraged in their area.