Fight animal abuse, stop the spread of overbreeding


Maddie Bernet

All information is used with permission from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

Maddie Bernet, Staff Writer

Nearly 2.6 million puppies are born in mills and backyard breeders every year, yet only 1.3 million are raised by licensed United States Department of Agriculture breeders. The Adopt Don’t Shop movement was originally created by Last Chance for Animals, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Los Angeles, California, to bring awareness to the horrible world of puppy mills and backyard breeders abusing dogs, cats and other species of pets. 

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RCPSA), backyard breeding is described as irresponsible owners breeding dogs, cats or other animals. The abuse may be caused by ignorance or neglect when the owner has not spayed or neutered their animals. As a result, overpopulation leads to more frequent euthanization of animals that are healthy and deserve to live in shelters. 

Puppy mills are another version of backyard breeders, but are much more widespread organizations. According to The Humane Society of the United States, in puppy mills, mother dogs spend their entire lives in cramped cages with little to no personal attention. When the mother and father dogs can no longer breed, they are abandoned or killed.

There are about 500,000 dogs kept in puppy mills just for breeding alone. The environment of the mills is unclean, resulting in health problems for the animals. Sometimes, the dogs from backyard breeders are sold to people that will abuse them, or in some cases, make them fight each other. 

According to the RSPCA, dogfighting is a violent and highly secretive enterprise that is extremely difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate. Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and U.S. territories. Most of the puppies used for dogfighting are raised by backyard breeders who then sell the puppies off. 

The most common breed used in America for dogfighting is the American Pit Bull Terrier, one of the most common dog breeds in animal shelters. Dogs who are victims of dogfighting either die from their injuries or end up in shelters after being rescued by animal control.

The lack of public awareness about the abuse and overbreeding of dogs allows puppy mills and backyard breeders to stay in business. Unlicensed breeders pose as credible ones to be able to fool a prospective pet owner who is looking to adopt a purebred instead of a mixed breed.

Even if the buyer is educated on backyard breeders, puppy mills have a way to get around their infamy through puppy brokers. The Humane Society of the United States states that a puppy broker is a person who resells animals that were bred in a different place. Puppy brokers are a go-between for different puppy mills and backyard breeders. 

The adoption of animals from shelters hinders the puppy mills and backyard breeders’ business. Money is not filtered into these underground businesses and also allows more animals to escape situations that involve euthanasia. The lack of money would not just affect the breeders, but also the fighters. The less money that is filtered throughout these businesses takes away the amount of animals that can be bred.

Stores dedicated to just selling puppies are one of the biggest hubs for selling animals from unqualified breeders. These businesses are not animal friendly and are in it for only one thing: money. The sight of cute baby animals is enough to draw anyone into the stores to buy the puppies, which results in the business being successful and allows the mills to continue to grow.

However, not all breeders are bad. Throughout the world, there are licensed breeders that do all of the work that is needed for producing healthy, purebred animals. These breeders take the time to study the lineage, breed, build and temperaments of the animals they’re breeding. Some people wish to have a purebred animal and that is okay. They should not be shamed for wanting a purebred as long as they do the required research of the breed along with the breeder they go to.

Finding a legitimate breeder is a key step in getting a purebred animal. For dogs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) provides information on breeders and verifies breeding licenses. The AKC is the official club in the United States that verifies all breeds of dogs. If a person wishes to find a breeder, that will be the best place to find information. 

If a purebred animal is not necessary, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter is home to a variety of dogs, cats, birds and rodents. The staff is friendly and the adoption process is well directed on their adoption website. The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is a friendly environment and gives animals second chances for a better life.