Fayette County will soon be home to a puppy mill, also euphemistically called a high volume dog breeder. On April 10, the Fayette County zoning board granted a request from Joel Zook, 8886 Morris Rd. in Green Township, to set up a dog breeding kennel.
Mr. Zook plans to have 10 breeding female dogs, Golden Retrievers and English Bulldogs (English Bulldogs fetch a good price at pet stores.) He plans to sell to a “puppy broker” – companies that “process” the puppies then send them out in trucks to pet stores, something like a tomato canning plant or a flower market. Of course, many of the puppies do not make it through this long and arduous process, but that is the cost of doing business, right?
These high volume dog breeders, brokers and pet stores will claim that that the puppies come from USDA licensed “breeders.” Unfortunately, USDA licensing standards are woefully inadequate and poorly enforced. Ohio also has minimal standards – similarly weak, poorly enforced and easily subverted by the “breeders,” who can stay under the maximum number of allowable litters (nine/year) by registering under different family names.
In these breeding facilities, dogs are kept in cages for their entire life. Veterinary care, protection from the elements, even food and water are often lacking. They never know love, a gentle touch, or the joy of chasing a ball. They are purely profit makers, thrown away when they can no longer produce puppies.
I have examined dogs from puppy mills – many have chronic infectious diseases, genetic abnormalities, and a lack of socialization. I have seen dogs costing thousands of dollars whose breed is nearly unrecognizable. I examined an English Bulldog rescued from a puppy mill sitting on the exam table who was unable to stand (he had been in a cage for seven years) or interact with people.
“Breeders,” puppy brokers and pet stores that sell puppies are driven by profit above any concern for the health or welfare of the dogs. The dogs sold in pet stores are exorbitantly priced, and the stores often prey on animal lovers, offering credit to people who are unable to pay for the dog on the spot. Many pet stores (PetSmart and PetCo, for example) do not sell dogs – rather they work with rescues to help find homes for homeless animals, as well as supporting rescues and shelters through their charitable arms.
Last year, the state legislators from Fayette County, Rep. Gary Scherer and Sen. Bob Peterson, introduced bills that codified high volume dog breeders as a source for pet stores, along with taking away the power from localities to decree that local pet stores can only sell animals from shelters and rescues. The bills passed, mostly along party lines. PetLand (based in Chillicothe) lawyers were instrumental in writing this bill, insuring that they can continue to profit from the suffering of dogs in this inhumane and immoral business.
When millions of animals are being euthanized in the United States each year because there are not enough homes for them, it is unconscionable to continue to breed dogs purely for profit. If you believe that puppy mills and the pet stores who buy from them should not find a home in Fayette County, Ohio, or the United States, then please make your feelings known to your legislators, get active in the stop puppy mills movement, and only patronize pet stores who do not sell puppies. Local humane societies are tasked with enforcing the humane laws of Ohio. If you see evidence of abuse, neglect or lack of veterinary care, please report your observations.
Lee Schrader, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Small Animal Internal Medicine)