In the aftermath of World War II, a sinister industry began to take root in the Midwest – the puppy mill industry. With the pet trade booming, unscrupulous breeders capitalized on the demand for puppies, leading to an exploitative system that has evolved and proliferated over the decades. Today, we find ourselves amidst an alarming epidemic of backyard breeders and licensed commercial operations that leave consumers devastated with fraud cases, sick puppies, and an overflowing rescue and shelter system. This blog will delve into the origins of the puppy mill industry, its transition to the internet era, and the urgent need for reform.
The Rise of Puppy Mills in the Midwest
After World War II, the demand for puppies soared as families sought comfort and companionship. In the Midwest, opportunistic breeders recognized the potential for profit and began mass-producing puppies in deplorable conditions. These “puppy mills” prioritized quantity over quality, neglecting the welfare of the breeding dogs and their offspring.
The Pet Store Connection
To sell their puppies, Midwest puppy mills formed alliances with pet stores. These stores, unaware of the mills’ unethical practices, became unwitting accomplices in perpetuating the cycle of suffering. Puppies were often sold to customers without proper health screenings, making way for countless cases of sick and medically compromised animals.
The Internet Age and the Proliferation of Puppy Sales
With the advent of the internet in the mid-1990s, puppy sales seeped into the virtual realm. Unscrupulous breeders, now armed with the power of online anonymity, expanded their operations. Consumers seeking a new furry companion became susceptible to fraudulent schemes, where security deposits were taken for nonexistent pets or puppies were delivered in poor health conditions.
The Overwhelming Consequences
The unchecked growth of backyard breeders and licensed commercial operations has led to an epidemic that affects both animals and consumers. Sick and neglected puppies flood the rescue and shelter system, overwhelming their limited resources. Meanwhile, innocent buyers fall prey to scams, enduring emotional and financial hardships as they navigate a sea of deceit.
The Inadequate Oversight by the Department of Agriculture
In a perplexing move, the oversight of puppy mills was handed over to the Department of Agriculture, an agency primarily responsible for regulating the livestock industry. This lack of emotional attachment and understanding of companion animals perpetuates the mistreatment and devaluation of puppies as mere commodities.