Puppy farms were created for the purpose of producing a high yield of puppies for the highest profits. Consequently, it has caused and is causing many welfare issues for both bitch and puppies. This was made illegal in the UK under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act, which was adapted from the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 (The Kennel Club, n.d). Hence the reason why organisations, such as the Kennel Club and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) are educating owners into purchasing dogs from reputable breeders. Documentaries on the issue have also been published to educate owners. For example, BBC Three (2016) published an example called “The Cost of Cute: The Dark Side of the Puppy Trade”.
Puppy farm breeders aim for high profits, but this then results in standards of husbandry to decrease. Lowered standards such as bedding not being changed regularly, allows them to produce a litter of puppies at much smaller margins than those of registered breeders. An increased amount of litters per year is also used to increase profits, resulting in puppies spending less than the recommended eight weeks with their mother. By law, bitches must only produce six litters throughout their lifetime to protect the health of the dam. However, due to the effect of pregnancy, the kennel club will only register puppies from a bitch that has had four or fewer litters to discourage puppy farming (The Kennel Club, n.d).
Basic standards of veterinary care are often missing; any biological side effects caused by pregnancy or birth to dam or puppies are often undetected. Basic husbandry is often low causing many minor conditions to worsen. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) discovered 340 dogs in chronic conditions where their teeth, skin, and eyes all needed urgent attention due to the problems caused by the conditions (see plate one). These dogs had been living in their own urine, which had caused infections within their paws and extremely matted coats (ISPCA, 2015).
Generally, if there are any signs of the brood bitches not producing adequate litter sizes, or pregnancy rates, the farm finds ways of disposing of them. This could be through the act of abandonment or euthanasia. However, the general physiological health status of the dog is usually ignored According to Dailrer (2016). Under kennel club rules, dogs are tested “for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and inherited eye conditions” and also DNA testing to ensure the dam and sire don’t pass on any genetic conditions. Hence the reason the Kennel Club PAW survey of 2014 found that internet brought puppies were four times more likely to experience parvovirus (The Kennel Club, n.d).
The Blue Cross (2016) states that owners should be vigilant of the signs of parvovirus, as the virus attacks the intestinal cells of the dog, which stops nutrient absorption. This results in: “foul-smelling diarrhoea with blood in it, vomiting, loss of appetite, collapse, depression, fever and sudden death”. Vaccines are available, but there is no known cure as of yet. However, there are other possible signs that a dog has come from a puppy farm.
Emotionally these puppies lack social skills due to being locked in a cage with very little human and canine interaction other than their dam and siblings. This has been shown to cause higher amounts a fearfulness and aggression as confirmed by Howell, et al. (2015).
However, Pup Aid (n.d) is a campaign to try and prevent the use of puppy farms by establishing events to raise awareness such as “Where’s Mum”. The outlook for puppy farm dogs has improved with the use of a more conclusive act. Once consumers are educated in inhumane breeding practices and how they operate, the demand should reduce. This welfare issue once addressed will prevent many more dogs being affected.
BBC Three (2016) The Cost of Cute: The Dark Side of the Puppy Trade. [Accessed on 19 December 2016] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ksl5w.
Dailrer, M. (2016) How Much is That Doggie in the Window: The True Cost of Puppy Mills. Honours. Ball State University. Honours. Ball State University.
Howell, T., King, T. and Bennett, P. (2015) ‘Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior’. Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports, 2015(6) pp.143-153.
ISPCA rescues 340 dogs and 11 horses from Carlow Puppy Farm following Closure Order. (2015) The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. [Online] [Accessed on 8 October 2016] http://www.ispca.ie/rescue_cases/detail/ispca_rescues_340_dogs_and_11_horses_from_carlow_puppy_farm_following_closu.
Parvovirus in dogs. (2016) Blue Cross. [Online] [Accessed on 19 December 2016] https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/parvovirus-dogs.
Puppy Farming. (n.d.) Pup Aid. [Online] [Accessed on 8 October 2016] http://www.pupaid.org/puppy-farming/.
Puppy Farming: Campaigning to End this Cruel Practice. (n.d.) The Kennel Club. [Online] [Accessed on 7 October 2016] http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/our-resources/kennel-club-campaigns/puppy-farming/.