How to Put Puppy Mills Out of Business
Puppies get abandoned on the doorsteps of shelters in Salt Lake City everyday, and the sad truth is some of these puppies end up being put to death. How is this possible when the most adorable thing most of us can think of is a puppy or a kitten? Let me tell you about a few hard lessons that I’ve learned over the past few years.
Let’s talk about who or what is to blame?
1. Puppy Mills – “a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”
Puppy milled dogs are retarded, and I’m not joking. During the first few weeks of life puppies must be socialized properly with humans and other dogs or their brains simply can’t wire up right. For example: I fostered a Rat Terrier for several months who was originally from a pet store. He had extreme fear of humans ie, he would pee himself in fear if anyone approached him. The poor guy was so neglected that if he was cornered he would poop himself and then curl up in a ball and shake until you went away. I spent countless hours with this Rat Terrier over several months helping him overcome his fears. I have trained some difficult dogs, but this Rat Terrier was the hardest by far because of how much work I had to put in to get him to improve ever so slightly. It’s hard to learn from a human when your earliest life experiences with humans are all bad, and he will never be normal because of how he was mistreated.
2. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know – Are you part of the small minority of dog owners who carefully planned for and chose their dog? Did you research breeds and local breeders for hours to make sure you found the right dog for your family. Did you perform the puppy test or other similar behavioral tests before making a final decision?
Or were you like most Americans who bought their dog from someone off of the internet, at a shelter, at a grocery store or at a pet store? Did you have a dog trainer and/or vet meet the dog before bringing it home? Whoops!
I am as guilty as anyone in this department. I bought my first puppy on a whim from a backyard breeder in Salt Lake City, UT. I had no plans to buy a dog that day but my roommate did. So I agreed to go with him and a long story short, I came home with an adorable Pit Bull puppy I had no idea how to train.
3. The Breed I Recommend – I always get asked, what breed of puppy should I get, or are Jack Russells good dogs to own? Everyone assumes if they find the perfect breed they can find the perfect dog. I regret to inform you that I don’t recommend any breed. Why? Because within every breed and even every litter of puppies there is huge variation in individual personality.
But aren’t Mastiffs really lazy? Or aren’t Golden Retrievers really good with kids? Truth is some Mastiffs are really hyper and some Retrievers hate children.
So how do you pick the perfect puppy?
Drum roll please…
1. Study! Reading this book by the Monks of New Skete is a really good place start:
The Art of Raising a Puppy (Revised Edition)
2. Find a breed that fits your living situation (Border Collie’s and apartment buildings don’t generally get along).
3. Carefully evaluate each puppy’s individual personality via the Puppy Test (Google search the puppy test immediately).
4. Have a vet and/or dog trainer take a second look to make sure you haven’t overlooked any health or behavioral issues.
If you follow these 3 steps I promise you will reap the benefits for years to come. Consider what would happen if everyone picked their dog this way:
1. Shelter populations would drop significantly improving the lives of thousands of our canine friends.
2. Low shelter populations equals thousands of dollars of savings for tax payers.
3. Hundreds of dollars saved for everyone who will no longer have to call dog trainers like me a few months down the road in desperate need of help.
4. Everyday thousands of dollars worth of furniture gets destroyed because of puppies. We’ve all lost our fair share of shoes, remote controls, couches, etc to jaws of puppies. This problem can be all but eliminated when you match the right owner with the right puppy.
5. My dream will finally come true and breeders who are ethical will make all the money, putting puppy mills out of business completely.
I want you to know that I know exactly how it feels to be in over your head! I’ll tell you one thing though, I will never find another dog the way I found my first one. I can’t begin to describe the amount of frustration and money you will save by finding your dog the right way.
Until next time I wish you the best,