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Puppy mills

Unfortunately, for many aspiring dog owners, the first place to go searching for a new dog is the pet store. These playfully innocent puppies are irresistible and few would ever imagine that they may come from a far-from-innocent place.

Many pet store puppies are born to suffering, malnourished dogs in puppy mills. The females used for breeding are bred every heat possible, resulting in two litters a year until they are six to eight years old when they are often killed because they are too worn out to produce anymore.

Puppy mill owners are intent on keeping costs down to increase the profits of their puppy sales. Dogs are, therefore, kept in unsanitary cages, often in cages or crates where they hardly have room to move. In some of the worst mills wire cages are often stacked on top of each other and excrement falls through from one cage to the next resulting in dogs with matted fur coated in feces and urine.

In other mills, dogs are kept in stalls thick with excrement or in crates hanging from the ceiling. They are fed just enough to keep them alive, and the food is the cheapest the owner can find. The dogs rarely necessary veterinary treatment, so preventable diseases can run rampant through puppy mills.

These are the highly profitable puppy mills you are likely supporting when you purchase a dog from the pet store.

Puppies bred in these mills often develop behavioural and health problems and may have difficulty adjusting to life with a family because of the lack of socialization they have had with humans. After living at the mill for as little as six weeks, the puppies are either sold directly to the public (usually through newspaper classifieds), directly to a pet store or to a broker, an independent agent who then sells them to pet stores across the country.

Some puppies may be registered purebreds. In Canada, dogs can only be legally sold as purebreds if they are registered in one of the few recognizable registration bodies, including the Canadian Kennel Club, Canadian Border Collie Association, the Canine Federation of Canada, the Working Canine Association of Canada and the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation.

Puppy mills are increasingly registering their dogs with online registration bodies that are not recognized in Canada, such as the North American Purebred Dog Registry. In either case, a registration alone does not guarantee a puppy’s health or quality.

Over the past decade the puppy mill industry has increased in Canada. Before 1995 most puppies in Canadian pet stores were imported from the United States, but in 1995 new legislation was implemented by Agriculture Canada to regulate the import of puppies from the United States. The legislation requires that puppies be microchipped, vaccinated and health checked by a veterinarian. Because many shipments did not meet these standards, the new law was successful in reducing the number of puppies being shipped to Canada. Unfortunately, the decrease in imported puppies from the U.S. created a demand that was met by an increase in Canadian mills.

Currently, federal animal cruelty laws offer little punishment for puppy mill owners, and many simply pay their fine and return to work. The CFHS is advocating for amendments to the more-than-a-century-old Criminal Code sections so cruelty against animals can be rightfully punished in Canada and prevented in the future.

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