What are Puppy Mills? How to STOP them?


Bringing home a pup is a dream come true for many pet parents. But, have you ever wondered if your pup is coming from an ethical breeder or from a puppy mill?
Often animal welfare organisations and activists talk of puppy mills mushrooming here and there. So, what are puppy mills?
Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan
Dogs’ apathy…
In puppy mills, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters.Since, it is more of a business, very little attention is given to the upkeep of animals. Dogs live in cramped cages, with no room to play or exercise. They are not given fresh food or water, have little or no veterinary care, and have little protection from weather. Sometimes, even the cleanliness is compromised, which means that they might end up living in unclean premises, with urine or faeces around.
Problems associates with pups from puppy mills…
Puppies coming from puppy mills are not healthy and can suffer from many problems. “Such puppies suffer from malnutrition as they are separated from mother as early as 25 days. Their immunity will be compromised as they lack mother’s feed after 25 days of age. Moreover, they tend to pick up all kinds of viral diseases live parvo, corona and helminthic diseases immediately when they are out from mothers care in such early age,” tells Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan.
“Puppies in mills are found with bleeding or swollen paws, feet falling through the wire cages, severe tooth decay, ear infections, dehydration, and lesions on their eyes, which often lead to blindness,” he adds. Besides, it is very harmful for the mother dogs as well. “Involuntary removal of puppies from mother also makes the mother sick, as no puppies are there to suckle the milk produced by the mother and their mammary gland gets physiological swelling and they have painful teats for many days,” he adds.
Identifying pups from puppy mills…
But, how can pet parents know if he is buying a pup from a puppy mill? Dr Amarnath shares, “If your puppy has a poor body weight or does not wants to come near anyone in the shop or does not wants to be handled, beware, he might be from a puppy mill.” Other indicators include: lesser skull conformation on the breed’s standard; and thin boned puppies with positive for skin turgidity test or skin elasticity tests. “Besides, such puppies always ask for food to eat
(as they are mainly starved in cages),” he shares. “You never find healthy and heavy boned active puppies from puppy mills where they keep animals for sale in cages,” he adds. “It’s also common to find dogs in puppy mills with collars that have been fastened so tightly that they become embedded in a dog’s neck and must be carefully cut out,” adds Dr Amarnath.
Ethical breeding…
It is very important for the breeders to use ethical breeding practices. “In case of females, the right time is to breed on or after third season or estrus cycle while in case of males, ideal time is 14–16 months of age,” shares Dr Amarnath.
Pet parents can save their pets from unwanted litters. Ethically, male dog can be castrated on or after a year and female dog after a whelping is ideal. “Still medically, they can be removed at the age of five months and eight months respectively for males and females. If the pet parent can’t maintain the litter, it’s very much ethical to remove the reproductive organs as early as per medical age to prevent orphan puppies,” he says.
Laws in India…
Dog Breeding, Marketing and Sale Rules 2010, is yet to be notified into law by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. All persons who wish to breed their dogs are legally required to register their animals with the Animal Welfare Board of India as per the Stray Dog Control (Animal Birth Control) Rules, 2001 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
(Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan is a senior veterinary surgeon at Amulya Pet Specialty Clinic, Salem, Tamil Nadu).