Puppy Mills / Backyard Breeders

"..northwestern Missouri -- the heart of the puppy-mill business in the United States.." ("Otterhounds." Breed Column. Akc Gazette, August 2003, 58).

"A few years ago... a puppy mill was not only breeding abitch who suffered from grand-mal cluster seizures, but was breeding her to her father..." (Palika, Liz. "Rescue Dog Closeup." AKC Gazette, June 2003, 12).

"[Backyard breeders are] people who bred dogs only for the money, and those who paired two cute dogs regardless of their quality to have "just one litter," or to have their children "see the miracle of birth"...

""They never go beyond their own backyard--not for a stud dog, not for learning... they don't do testing...

"They don't bother joining a kennel.. Nor will you see them attending seminars to increase their knowledge of health, training, and reproduction...

"Many backyard breeders now put up glitzy web pages to lure unsuspecting buyers. They may even post a "show picture" of some first-place win at a little show with no competition. Buyers must ask for details, especially regarding the health of the puppies in question.." (White, Jo Ann. "Shih Tzu: Backyard Breeders." Breed Column. AKC Gazette, June 2003, 55).

Beware, the pictures are graphic. But, it is what people need to see to know and really understand what these places are like.

The SPCA of Texas rescued more than 125 dogs and puppies from a puppy mill near Canton, Texas where dogs were forced to breed and live in overcrowded, filthy conditions before being sold to the public. The SPCA hopes to gain custody of the dogs, the majority of which are toy breeds, at a hearing next Wed., Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Van Zandt County Courthouse.

SPCA humane investigators and Van Zandt County authorities met at the First State Bank in Ben Wheeler, located at Highway 64 and FM 773, at 8:30 a.m. today and proceeded from there to the site of the puppy mill. SPCA vans transfered the animals to Dallas and McKinney.

For the past year, investigators from the Van Zandt County constable’s office have issued multiple warnings—all of which have gone unheeded— to the breeders, who face animal cruelty charges. The dogs, which include toy breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Dachshunds and Pomeranians, were being bred in filthy, overcrowded conditions and forced to live in cramped wire cages stacked atop one another and matted with feces. Some larger breeds, such as Akitas, Redbone Coonhounds, among others, as well as two horses, are also being seized.

*Use caution when viewing as pictures are of a graphic nature* http://www.spca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=News_Canton_Pics

The SPCA has divided the dogs among its three shelters in Dallas, McKinney and The Colony. The horses have been transferred to the SPCA in McKinney. If the animals are awarded to the SPCA, they will be spayed and neutered and made available for adoption. Meanwhile, the pets will be vaccinated, wormed, fed, groomed and evaluated by a veterinarian.

Typically, dogs bred in puppy mills are sold in venues such as the First Monday Flea Market in Canton. In most cases, the animals, many with medical problems, are not vaccinated or wormed and are malnourished and sick. After the flea markets, unsold animals are often turned loose to fend for themselves.

The SPCA is seeking contributions—an estimated $10 per day per dog—for food, shelter and vet care. To help, DONATE NOW or call 1-888-ANIMALS, ext. 128. (From RPOArescue list email 1-20-04).

Most of these places aren't allowed to use AKC papers any more. They go to other "registries" that will issue papers without even proof that there is a dog of any kind, much less the breed they are claiming. AKC inspects breeders who produce more than a very few litters each year. If they find the conditions to be less than acceptable, they do two things. They suspend the people breeding the dogs and don't allow them to play AKC any more AND they are obligated to report the conditions to the local authorities who have the responsibility for enforcing the laws. Most of these creeps go out into counties where there is no animal cruelty officer and local authorities don't know how to deal with it. In this case, they seem to have managed to do the job. I'm really glad they have. First off, I'm glad for the dogs and secondly, I think that may be one of the groups that brings dogs down here to a flea market outside of San Antonio at least one weekend a month. We have enough dogs in need down here without bringing in more. It's really hard to pursue these folks across the state. (from ROPArescue list email 1-20-04).

I'm not saying that kennels registering with AKC won't show up as being guilty of puppy mill type activities and improper housing. They will, but as soon as it comes to light either in the courts or through an AKC visit, measures are taken to take them out of it. (from RPOArescue list email 1-21-04).

There are people in New Orleans that AKC should not issue papers to, but they do anyway. They said, you can breed a female at the age of 9 months old and I told them I thought that was sick and pretty upsetting to me, because they allow this back yard breeding to go on all over and do absolutely nothing about it. AKC means absolutely nothing. People don't really know what they are getting anymore. (from RPOArescue list email 1-21-04).

You know, it's very easy to criticize organizations like AKC and even individuals, but what do we do about the problems. AKC is a registry. That is what they were founded to do. In recent years they've expanded to try to protect as well, but it's a huge job.

What are we doing about the problems personally? Why are these folks in your bad books? Is what they are doing illegal? If it is and you know about it, do something about it. If it's not illegal in that state and you think it should be, lobby for that change. (from RPOArescue list email 1-21-04).

Very well put. We all know AKC is not much more than a registry and you are right--they are trying hard to protect. Like the USDA they are limited to resources (meaning manpower). If they only have say three inspectors covering multiple states it is a job. There is also something else in the "air" from AKC. If you are a purebreed Rescue and your National Coordinator is on the National Breed email list ask them to keep you informed about what AKC is trying to do for Rescues. If they aren't on the list encourage them to join.

I'm also a firm believer in lobbying for change in legislation. Too many states have laws that are soooo outdated as far as regulating and policing breeding practices. We, as Rescuers, all to often think of ourselves as individuals or Regional groups. That just not the case. As a network of combined Rescues we are huge. We can do so much if we, as you say--"get involved." Thanks again Lynnie. (from RPOArescue list email 1-21-04).

Colby Glass, MLIS