The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Puppy mills and the AKC

The stench of garbage, urine and feces is unbearable. Ammonia hangs heavy in the air and flies are everywhere. Dim lighting and the constant barking of dogs in distress create a sense of chaos. Row upon row of stacked cages hold dogs matted with feces—some too sick to move. This is the world of a puppy mill dog.
Excerpted from the ASPCA puppy mill FAQ.

By now, we should all be able to agree that the existence of puppy mills has been kept in the shadows for far too long. Too many dogs have suffered miserable lives and died horrible deaths at the hands of large-scale commercial operators who could care less about the health and well being of the dogs they keep or the puppies they sell.

The ASPCA has investigated these operations since about 1980 using undercover investigators and they claim there are about 10,000 puppy mills in the US alone, double the number since the mid-90's. Somebody is clearly profiting somewhere. I found it interesting that about half of these sell directly to the public over the internet and, because they do, are not subject to any Federal regulations or inspections. Not that it matters much. Just look at how successful the Feds are enforcing what some may consider more important regulations like those covering our food, our medicines, illegal immigration, welfare fraud and child protective services. Where do you think a million dogs stand in the bigger order of things?

The ASPCA states that puppy mills produce about a million puppies a year. A MILLION PUPPIES PEOPLE, in a country that kills 2 to 3 million unwanted dogs a year because of over population. Then there are the thousands that are smuggled in from countries that have no humane laws to bother about. Half of the million puppies are sold through a broker to pet stores that sell them to you. Many of the other half are what is known in the trade as "broker rejects" and are sold over the internet to you. "Broker rejects" were rejected because they have issues like fleas and ticks, respiratory problems, epilepsy, internal parasites, heartworm, and the list goes on. The brokered puppies are ripped from their moms between 6 and 7 weeks of age, packed in crates and shipped by big rig all around the country. Seems like even the originally healthy broker-OK pups may be a little messed up after ordeal.

And, what about the AKC? The self-proclaimed arbiter of all great things canine? What is their stand on the subject of puppy mills? Well, I've covered it before, but the head guy over there wrote in an annual report that they must "reach out" to the retail trade in order to garner the registration fees necessary to stay in business. To stay in business for what purpose is a whole 'nother post. The ASPCA has just published a Puppy Mill FAQ, which is an enlightening, undercover expose' of what really goes on inside the industry. I'll quote from it here:

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and Puppy Mills

Are All Puppy Mill Puppies Purebred?

No. The fact is, your new “purebred” puppy might not really be a purebred at all. Dogs at puppy mills are often bred indiscriminately, and lineage records are sometimes falsified to acquire AKC papers. Puppy mills are also marketing ‘designer breeds’—a mix of two breeds—to target consumers. (Think Puggle and Labra-doodle and imagine how long your love would last for a dog your purchased because it had a kitchy name)

Are AKC-Registered Dogs Guaranteed?

AKC registry is a service provided by the American Kennel Club. While many people believe AKC registration means that their puppy came from a reputable breeder, being AKC-registered means nothing more than a puppy’s parents both had AKC papers. (and there's a good chance those were forged) While there are AKC regulations on record-keeping and identification of dogs, they do not restrict puppy mills from producing AKC-registered dogs. (no, they encourage it!) The fact is, many AKC-registered dogs are born in puppy mills. While AKC has regulations as to record keeping provisions they have no minimum standards of care for the welfare of the dogs—only guidelines. (Repeat it with me..."no minimum standards of care")

Does the AKC Inspect Breeders?

The primary function of the AKC inspector is to perform record checks to make sure the puppy did have two purebred dogs as parents. (Got to make sure those suffering dogs are pure) According to AKC’s official policy, this is usually as far as it goes unless the AKC inspector discovers a dog in a clearly compromised condition such as grossly underweight, severely dehydrated, with serious untreated injuries—the offenders are then usually given 45 days to correct the deficiencies.

Suffering, sick and dying dogs crammed into wire cages inside poorly lighted buildings, or worse, forced to reproduce as often as possible, then killed. Puppies taken from their mothers way too soon, stuffed into cages and shipped to a pet store or directly to you. We can make this national tragedy go away. It's simple. Never buy a pet store or internet puppy. That's it. Job done!

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