|Current affairs programme 60 Minutes recently exposed shocking conditions on puppy breeding farms in New Zealand that provided disturbing reasons not to buy animals from pet shops. |
Commonly referred to as puppy mills, they are commercially run dog breeding facilities where as many as 100 animals will be farmed. 60 Minutes revealed dogs were being kept in small overcrowded cages in squalid conditions, akin to factory-farmed animals.
The dogs being produced were often not purebreds, but cross-bred ‘designer' dogs such as ‘labradoodles' (a labrador crossed with a poodle), or ‘spoodles' (a spaniel crossed with a poodle). SAFE campaign officer Sacha Dowell said some of the commercial farms had 50-100 dogs on site, and it was apparent that welfare was not a priority.
"The footage showed dogs living in mud and filth, without bedding, as well as sick puppies in need of urgent veterinary attention. One dog was dragging around a tyre attached to his collar by a chain (to prevent them escaping), and another had an anti-barking device attached to her neck (emits an electric shock when the dog barks)," says Sacha.
"With dogs being retailed for around $1,500 each, profit seems to be the most motivating factor."
The 60 Minutes programme linked at least one farm in Gisborne to supplying young dogs to Animates, the largest pet store chain in the country.
"What the story barely touched on was that this is a prime example of supply and demand. Puppy mills exist because people demand "designer" dogs (whether purebred or cross-bred) with particular looks or temperament," says Sacha.
Increasing the homeless
Thousands of unwanted dogs are killed annually in New Zealand because the supply is greater than demand. Dog rescue centres and council-run dog pounds are overflowing with adoptable dogs.
"Sadly, large numbers of dogs will never find loving homes, and meet their fate with a lethal injection. Meanwhile, puppy mills continue to recklessly breed thousands of new dogs purely for profit," says Sacha.
"The only way to prevent the death of tens of thousands of companion animals is to not support animal breeders or pet shops. Instead, adopt a rescued animal from a shelter and make a lifelong commitment to that animal."
WHAT'S WRONG WITH PET SHOPS AND PUPPY MILL BREEDERS?
While you buy, others die!
Buying an animal from pet shops or breeders supports an unscrupulous breeding industry that results in large numbers of animals being needlessly killed.
Pet shops are largely responsible for impulse buying. Who can resist wanting that cute puppy or kitten in the window? It is easy to succumb to the pressures of desire without giving second thought to the life-long responsibilities of caring for an animal.
SAFE and the SPCA are particularly critical about pet shops that do not even screen potential adopters. This can lead to animals later being dumped at animal shelters once people realise they are unable to provide the necessary care or facilities required, or have become frustrated at all the mess their new guest makes.
Pet shops make money
It is important to remember a pet shop is a commercial business where making money is first and foremost their ongoing concern. Unlike animals from shelters or SPCA's, most animals from pet shops are not desexed before adoption to prevent more unwanted animals being produced and some are not vaccinated. Many pet shops also fail to provide adopters with the necessary information about caring for an animal and offer sales and specials on selected animals, prompting those impulse buyers.
SAFE is aware of cases of animals in pet shops being in poor health or being kept in unsatisfactory conditions.
IN THE MEDIA
60 Minutes - Oodles of Spoodles
60 Minutes - Producer's blog
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1) Don't buy animals from pet shops. Save a life - adopt from an animal shelter or rescue organisation. Click here to find your local rescue group.
2) Write or call your local pet shops and ask them where they source their animals. Request they do not source their animals from puppy mills and source rescued animals. Ask that they desex and vaccinate all animals before adopting and screen potential adopters.
3) Write a letter to the editor of your local paper asking members of the public to adopt a rescued dog from their local animal shelter rather than buying from a pet shop or breeder.
I recently became aware of puppy mills operating in New Zealand that breed dogs for sale in pet shops. I was appalled that this happens in this country.
I question if these puppy mills should be outlawed, given there is already a dreadful surplus of unwanted dogs, resulting in thousands of animals being killed each year. This is an absolute disgrace, and I am sure no caring New Zealander could possibly wish for this sad situation to continue.
It seems pet shops are part of the problem, often selling purposely-bred ‘designer' animals that actually contribute to the over-breeding and subsequent euthanasia of unwanted animals. Selling animals from pet shops also promotes impulse buying that simply places further demands on over-burdened shelters and pounds.
People can adopt an animal companion from their local pound or animal shelter, thereby saving a life.
View a series of photographs taken at local pounds and shelters of unwanted animals due to over breeding. Warning: Content is likely to upset.