What is a puppy farm and why should they be avoided?
A puppy farm is usually licenced by the local council in its geographical area as a legal breeding establishment.
Licencing officers visit and grant a licence to this type of breeder making the whole thing legal. There are a number of rules that licencing is supposed to be based on canine welfare, but the guidelines vary and don’t reach the dizzy heights of even the most basic life quality for the dogs.
I have never been inside a puppy farm but have carried out some research from others who have. Remember as you read the following descriptions that someone has licenced most puppy farms as acceptable practice; they are currently legal.
The commercial puppy farm is big, there can be hundreds of dogs in one. There is a lot of noise and distress from the dogs. Doors bang and cages rattle, there are sounds of tiny puppies of different ages – simply being puppies.
The dogs are covered in urine, matted, unhealthy, and desperately sad. Puppy farm parents have bodies that are ravaged by breeding; they have many litters that are forcibly removed and then mated again. When they reach the end of their breeding life some go to rescue whilst others are killed.
One person who shared her experience with me said that the dogs were clubbed to death when they were no longer of use.
Dogs are our friends. They have evolved as companions, workmates, and partners for people, yet some of our own species do this to them, whilst our own government provides legal back-up via licencing, all based on cash.
In the last couple of years, though, the plight of the farmed dog has been publicised, and slowly, changes are being made. We are starting to see animal welfare awareness, questions asked about dogs sold in pet stores, and even the cessation of third party sales of puppies. In Scotland it’s illegal to sell puppies in pet stores and the same legal stance is currently being set in England, too.
I don’t believe that you or I could even imagine how it must feel to be in that situation, as a puppy farm parent dog. This is why the resilience of the escapees is heartening.
The domestic dog wants a person. No matter what we have done to them in their past, dogs will choose a person and become theirs. Then when that person shows kindness and earns their trust, this dog will sparkle.
Puppy farmers know that people would run for miles and tell anyone listening if they were shown into the breeding environment to choose their new family member, so they get sneaky about selling the little lives that they facilitate.
One of the people I spoke to said they went to a house of a highly recommended breeder and chose their puppy in a clean, warm house. When they went back to collect their puppy they couldn’t find the breeder so explored, then they found the farm, tucked around the back of the house.
They then realised that the smell of urine was not from the working farm nearby, but from the puppy farm itself.
Puppy farmers use host families with excuses as to why the parents are not around. They offer to deliver puppies to your home, meet in hotels, and even at train stations. The thing that makes this process easy for them is that once a puppy of six to eight weeks old has been given a bath, they will usually look healthy and not give much away about their sinister beginnings.
Whilst a farmed puppy may look perfect at the time we meet him, there’s a lot more going on inside the dog that undoubtedly will appear, through his health and behaviour. This is because a puppy at six to eight weeks old is not a blank canvas. In fact, even a puppy at a few hours old is not a blank canvas.
A dog’s personality starts to develop at the moment he is conceived and the building blocks for that personality come directly from the life and health of his parents and grandparents.
This fact is exactly why people may buy a puppy from a stranger, think they will get a nice family dog and end up with an adolescent dog who is nervy, scared, and probably also physically ill.
So even if you decide you want a farmed puppy anyway and are prepared to take the risk, remember that you are taking on a dog with potentially life-changing physical and psychological health problems. Why not rescue or at least find a breeder with a heart, for everyone's sake.