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Puppy Mill Horrors
Article By: Glenn Redmond

Some friends refer to me as a workaholic. There is no doubt that I like to stay busy, with relaxation time often not getting the attention it deserves. I like to catch the odd TV show or watch a hockey game now and again, but that usually occurs after 10 pm. However, a couple of Fridays ago, there I was, sat back in a chair at 2:30 in the afternoon, glued to the Oprah Winfrey Show and letting the answering machine work overtime.

Oprah, whose 13 year old dog, Sophie, recently passed away, dedicated the episode to Sophie's memory to expose the hidden world of puppy mills. Winfrey said, "Our show today is for anybody anywhere who loves a dog, has ever loved a dog or just cares about the basic right to humane treatment."

Oprah show correspondent Lisa Ling along with U.S. Humane Society President Wayne Pacell and Bill Smith, head of Mainline Animal Rescue, went undercover, producing horrific footage of the abuses and cruelty that happens at puppy mills. Ling said of the puppy mills, "I had no idea how horrific they are. And it's really haunting…I felt like I was crying two days after I returned because it's just a really, really scary sight."

The show highlighted these atrocities in the United States, but the situation is no different in Canada. Every province has its share of despicable human beings who equate puppies to dollar signs. And yes, it's happening here in Newfoundland, right under our noses.

A puppy mill is a mass breeding establishment that produces puppies for profit with little regard for socialization, genetics or the well being of the breed. They are always overcrowded, absolutely filthy and do a poor job of providing even the basic necessities of shelter, food, water and medical care. Though some of the larger mills have thousands of animals, the average puppy mill will have 25-75 dogs. They are kept in hutch style cages with wire floors designed to allow feces and urine to drop to the ground below. As the waste accumulates, rodents, flies and other bugs plague the animals continuously. Puppy legs fall through the wire floor yielding deep cuts that become infected due to lack of medical care.

Rampant with disease, pups are gathered at 6 weeks of age, bathed and cleaned of feces and odors and transported to animal brokers. They end up in retail pet store windows and fancy websites, looking to pull at your heartstrings - all thanks to an industry void of responsibility and moral fortitude.

Life is particularly horrific for the adult breeding stock. Living their entire lives in cages, many dogs lose eyes and ears due to fights happening in cramped quarters from which there is no escape. Some adults lose paws and legs in the struggle to free themselves from the wire floors grip. Dogs in puppy mills are de-barked often by ramming a steel rod down their throats to rupture their vocal chords. Females are bred every heat cycle until they are worn out and can no longer reproduce, at which point they are often shot. No sense in keeping an animal that is not making any money.

I wish I could tell you that I was shocked at Oprah's show, but unfortunately, I was not. I have witnessed with my own eyes the realities of puppy mills. I have many pictures on my computer of such atrocities happening here locally all taken on calls with the SPCA. Archaic laws leave us powerless in shutting these puppy mills down. People unknowingly purchase these cute puppies, realizing after the fact that they have health and temperament problems. So please, don't be fooled by claims made by pet stores when purchasing their puppies or colorful ads on websites or in newspapers. You may have good intentions or think that you are rescuing a puppy by purchasing him, but in reality you are only making room for another puppy mill pup while padding the pockets of unethical people. So rather than asking how much is that puppy in the window? Ask where did that puppy come from?

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