Puppy mill shiba

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7 Things To Consider Before Even Thinking About Getting A Shiba Inu

If you've been thinking of welcoming a Shiba Inu into your home - welcome to the club!

The skyrocketing popularity of Shibas due to the dogecoin fiasco, silly memes, and puppy cams have led to issues such as an increase in "puppy mill Shibas" and new Shiba owners not understanding what they're getting into.

long hair shiba inu puppy on left

Shiba Inus are NOT something you should just "shop" for.

You should never get a puppy simply because it's the latest fad. Remember the Taco Bell commercial and the rise in Chihuahua popularity?

Simply ridiculous.

A dog is living sentient being that has special needs. Certain breeds of dogs have much different needs than others.

Did you know that the Shiba Inu is one of THE MOST primitive breeds today?

They are.

And owning a primitive breed requires someone who understands the challenges that come with these types of  breeds.

Do you want a Shiba because you believe you understand the breed and can offer the best environment and lifestyle that will allow the dog to thrive?

Not sure? Read on find out.

# 1 - Where? Oh Where Will Your Shiba Inu Come From?

examples of typical puppy mill shiba inus

4-month old Shiba Inu puppy bred responsibly:

Quality Shiba Inu puppies from reputable Shiba Inu breeders are hard to come by.

And they'll be costly.

Unfortunately, that's the main reason SO MANY unsuspecting new Shiba Inu owners get their pup from a puppy mill or a backyard breeder.

Don't. I repeat.

Don't do that. 

You won't find a quality Shiba Inu puppy at the "pet store", Craig's List, or some online "puppy store". 

puppy mill shiba inu craigslist

What you will likely find is a puppy that is likely to have physical, genetic, and mental defects that will affect the dog for the rest of their life.

You'll also be supporting the insidiously cruel world of "puppies for profit"  - a world where parent dogs silently suffer in their own form of Hell at the mercy of greedy breeders.

Puppies from backyard breeders (byb's) and mills are often low quality specimens of the breed that often have anxiety and aggression issues due to their upbringing and environment. 

To put it frankly and unapologetically - you'll get an "ugly" Shiba Inu puppy.

likely puppy mill shiba inu

Adult Shiba  Inus from puppy mills suffer greatly

Physically ugly, because the breeder could care less about breed standards and health testing.

Morally ugly, because it was forced into this world for profit while causing suffering to their adult parents.

Intellectually ugly, because it was "purchased" by owners who didn't do proper research and instead put their needs and desires ("OH, I must get a Shiba Inu now♥♥!!") - above the health of sentient living beings.

Don't be that type of owner. If you can't afford or wait to get an ethically bred Shiba Inu puppy - adopt. 

If you find this advice harsh - good - it's meant to be as puppy mills and backyard breeders is a harsh reality that will only get worse without awareness.

# 2 - Wrong Reasons For Wanting a Shiba Inu

Reason: You want a Shiba because they're so freakin adorable.

All of us have been guilty at getting something just because it's so pretty or soooo cute.

As Shiba Inus rise in popularity, more and more potential new dog owners are drawn to the breed due their looks and "curb appeal".

However Shiba Inus are simply not cute faces.

They're a unique breed of dog that requires an owner to thoroughly understand their personality, traits, and needs.

All to often, Shiba Inus wind up in shelters because the new owners realized all too quickly that looks aren't everything.

shiba inu frolicking in the grass

Reason: You want a Shiba because you want a loving companion.

A Shiba is not. 

"Repeat"...

Is not a typical affection loving, sweet and playful dog like a Labrador or Golden Retriever. 

There are exceptions to the rule but it's not common.

So if you want a affectionate, playful and attentive dog - cross the Shiba Inu off your list.

# 3 - Shibas Need a LOT of Training and Socialization

stubborn shiba inu

The personality traits of a typical Shiba Inu can make training a challenge.

They are stubborn, aloof, and NOT eager to please.

For this reason, many Shiba owners simply give up on training and believe their Shiba is untrainable. 

This isn't true of course and the lack of training makes an already difficult breed... even more difficult.

Issues such as anxiety, aggression, resource guarding, and escape risks become more difficult to manage.

shiba inu puppy chewing

For these very reasons, Shiba Inu actually need more training than most dogs.

And this training and socialization should start at an early age (6 - 8 weeks).

Socializing an Shiba puppy is the most important period of the dog's life and doing so will take time (lots of it), patience, and perseverance. 

So basically, a Shiba Inu puppy is DEFINITLY not for someone who can't spend an extraordinary amount of time during it's puppyhood for socialization and training.

shiba inu puppy an adult

Without proper socialization, Shibas can become very difficult to handle.

Routine tasks such as bathing, nail clipping, and vet visits can become downright horrific for both Shiba and owner. 

Shibas are dogs that need experienced owners - plain and simple.

# 4 - Having Enough Funds $$$ To Care For a Shiba Inu

shiba inu costs lots of money

I've heard of many stories where new Shiba owners save up alllllllll their money to purchase a quality bred Shiba pup only to have little budget left for the "other stuff". 

And that "other stuff" can quickly add up.

Veterinarian care, quality nutrition, boarding toys, bedding, accessories, training...

And what if there's a medical emergency?

Will your Shiba Inu have pet insurance or will you have no problem covering a possible four-figure medical bill?

Owning a Shiba Inu, or any dog, can get very expensive. 

Very fast.

If you don't have the budget to provide a comfortable life for a Shiba Inu - wait until you do.  

Also if you can't afford a medical emergency bill BUT you still plan on acquiring a Shiba or any dog - dog insurance may be right for you.

It'll give you piece of mind and ensure that your Shiba can get the best medical care possible.

# 5 - Having a Shiba Inu Safe Environment

shiba inu lying comfortably on the couch

Shiba Inu were once small game hunters and many still retain a lot of that deeply embedded instinctual prey drive.

That's great for those who want help with mice patrol but bad for those that do not have properly contained home environments for the dogs. 

Those considering a Shiba must have a safe and secure home that a Shiba cannot escape from.

Gates, double doors, locks.

Basically the works in Shiba security.

A bolting Shiba is a fast Shiba, and we've all heard too many stories of owners tragically losing their Shibas due to a forgotten door or gate being left opened.

Also consider the region you live in - Shibas prefer cooler environments due to their plush double coat.

# 6 - Fur. Just Fur.

shiba inu shedding heavily

Shiba Inu Shedding Heavily

The plush double coat of a Shiba Inu will bring a lot of "oohs and ahhhs" from wide-eyed admirers.

It'll also bring a lot fur into your life.

A Shiba Inu is a Spitz dog with a plush undercoat that completely "blows" twice a year.

During this coat blowing period, their fur will be just about everywhere.

On your clothes, in the carpet, and in your food.

Those that have "O.C.D. / neat freak" issues or allergies will need to take this into consideration.

Brushing the Shiba's coat during coat blow, and vacuuming often will thankfully keep the shedding under relative control.

Other than that, the shedding during the rest of the year is not really that bad...

# 7 - Attitude

keep shiba inu secured and safe

Shiba attitude, sometimes referred to as "Shibattitude" is well, unique.

They are stubborn - yet soulful.

Demanding - yet reserved.

Indifferent - yet loyal.

A Shibas attitude is something only true fanciers understand, enjoy and "deal with". 

shiba dog grinning

For those new to Shiba Inus, this attitude can lead to issues in training, socialization, and everyday tasks such as grooming.

Coexisting with a Shiba Inu requires patience and a true understanding of a Shiba's multifaceted personality.

No Shiba will stand for any "alpha" training B.S. as they very well know they are our equals.

Shiba Inus require owners that they can trust and respect without fail. 

And if you think you can provide them with that, then perhaps a Shiba Inu may be, just maybe, the right dog for you. 

Sours: https://myfirstshiba.com/considering-a-shiba-inu/

Your dog probably came from a puppy mill…

98% of all puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills!

Online “breeders” are just as likely to be puppy mills, as there are NO RULES OR REGULATIONS for sales over the internet or for the care of those dogs while at the facilities where they are kept. 

Pet store will claim their dogs from “puppy mills”, they come from USDA licensed breeding facilities. This designation is meaningless. The truth is puppy mills are required by law to have a USDA license, and actually meet the minimum requirements to obtain one. This does not mean that those requirements provide for the humane treatment of pet animals. They were designed for livestock. They don’t take consider quality of life, require socialization to humans or other animals, or basic requirements for a standard of care that is necessary to breed and raise a happy, healthy pet animal.

Your puppy probably came with an AKC registration. That means it’s a reputable breeder right? Not necessarily. Puppy mills are able to obtain AKC registrations just like good breeders. Puppy mill dogs may be purebred, but they are definitely poorly bred.

The midwest is considered the “breeding belt” when it comes to puppy mills and large commercial breeding facilities.  Any breeder you find in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, or Omish country is most likely a puppy mill.

There are “reputable” breeders out there, but they are few and far between. It’s up to you, the consumer, to be sure you are not supporting puppy mills. The easiest way to do that is to simply not BUY a puppy. Adopt from your local shelter or rescue. They have puppies too! But if you absolutely must buy a dog, DO YOUR RESEARCH!


H
ow do you know if you are dealing with a reputable breeder?

1. A reputable breeder will conduct (and can provide proof of) the following genetic health tests on their breeding animals and will require them of the sire (father) should they “hire” a stud dog for the litter:
– Eyes should be certified against Juvenile Cataracts and Juvenile Glaucoma
– Full thyroid panel yearly
– OFA (for hip dysplasia and/or luxated patellas), a one time deal done at or after age 2

!!Beware of breeders who scoff at genetic testing and say their particular breed/line is problem-free!!

2. A reputable breeder will not breed dogs under the age of 2, or if a Giant breed dog, under the age of 3, as this is when hereditary health issues will arise that could be passed to offspring.

3. A reputable breeder requires that “pet-quality” vs “show-quality” animals be altered (spayed or neutered) and sells them on Limited Registration. Be wary of breeders who do not mention altering.

4. A reputable breeder provides a written contract with the sale of the pup. This will vary from breeder to breeder, but usually spells out the rights of the seller and buyer, health information, genetic health guarantees (should be at least 2 years), required altering and buy-back/return policy. A reputable breeder will alway take a dog back if they don’t work out in their new home.

5. A reputable breeder typically has a waiting list (often years long) for the unborn puppies and does not advertise in the on free websites such as “Craigslist” or social media. If they are breeding responsibly and have a good product there will be a much higher demand than their supply.

6. A reputable breeder will hold on to puppies as long as it takes to place them in the right homes. He or she will often interview potential buyers thoroughly, will make referrals to the local rescue group, ask for references and will refuse to sell a dog if the home is not appropriate for the breed or for a puppy.

7. Prices will be at the high end of local range. Most Shiba Inu puppies from reputable breeders are between $1,200 – $3,000.  The price does not reflect all that is invested in these pups.  Reputable breeders who spend all the necessary monies on genetic testing, high quality food, veterinary costs, pedigree registration and whelping supplies make no profit from breeding and are lucky if they break even. Be concerned with a good deal, puppies listed for under $600.00–you will get what you paid for in the end.

8. A reputable breeder will has no hesitation about you coming by for a visit and/or pick up your dog. A reputable breeder will NOT ship a dog to you, or ask you to meet them somewhere. They raise their puppies in a loving environment (typically their home) that is clean, safe, and well-maintained. The puppies are socialized with humans and other dogs. A reputable breeder will allow you to meet the puppies parents if available and, if the father isn’t available, they will show you pictures and provide you with the information on how to contact the owner of the sire (father). If you are allowed to come to the breeder’s home, be wary if they only bring puppies out one or a two at a time, not actually showing you where they and their mother are kept.  Trust your instincts on this.

9. A reputable breeder is actively involved in the dog fancy, including showing dogs and/or breed clubs. While there are exceptions–i.e. someone who has shown dogs for 20 years, but is now retired–a person who is not actively involved in showing, or with breed-related organizations, or clearly an breed enthusiast, can be suspect.

10. A reputable breeder is willing to provide answers to questions you may have and is willing to provide names of others who have purchased pups from them.

11. A reputable breeder follows up on puppies. He or she is interested in how the pups develop physically and mentally, difficulties in the owner/dog relationship and health problems.

12. A reputable breeder will not let puppies leave their home prior to 8 weeks of age and often not until 10 weeks of age. It is actually illegal to sell, buy, or give away puppies or kittens under 8 weeks of age.

13. If dew claws have been removed from the puppies, this should be done by 3 days old.

Viewer Discretion is Advised: 

Wanna know what really goes on with the cute puppies that go to the pet store or are shipped from states like Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, etc., and their parents that are left behind?  Click on the following links and watch the videos: http://www.vimeo.com/18886707

This is of the dogs that are auctioned off in various states to go from one mill to the next, all is discussed is the dog’s ability to reproduce and the money that it will make the breeders:                                             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEt1rkq0Gw4&feature=relmfu

These videos are of mill raids by the Humane Society of the United States:                       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZsCwOy5rdIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIV5l4gd_Oo&feature=relmfu

And this shows them from the mill to the local pet shop:                                                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucPA0DrfvbYhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9eYRoufeCk&feature=fvsr

So, tell me, do you still want to get a puppy from a pet store?

What is a puppy mill: A puppy mill is a place that breeds dogs for profit only, without a care to health, temperament or behavior. Every month rescues all over the state of Colorado and across the nation receive the parents of these adorable pet store puppies.  These are adult dogs (ages range from 2-12 years of age) that can no longer produce puppies or the occasional young dog that has health problems and therefore cannot be bred or sold and once this happens they are slated to be euthanized. The conditions these dogs once they arrive are horrific.  The kind of treatment companion animals receive in puppy mills is cruel, intolerable and inhumane.  Rescues put forth a lot of money, time, and patience to help these dogs recover so they can move onto a better life.  We will never turn down a dog being released from a puppy mill.

The entire Midwest region is considered ‘puppy mill country’. That includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Missouri, which is labelled the “puppy mill capitol of the nation”. So when the pet stores tell their customers that the puppies were either born in, or come from, “loving homes and/or reputable breeders” in these states, they are actually telling these customers that the puppies came from puppy mills.  And don’t be fooled when you are told that the pups come from USDA licensed breeders as all pet store puppies come from USDA licenced breeders. In fact it is illegal for a pet store to sell a puppy that comes from anything other than a USDA licensed commercial breeder.

Puppy mill puppies are almost always poor in health, and can often be unstable of temperament. It is not unheard of for puppies to be sold as purebred dogs, but are, in reality, mixed breeds that resemble the purebred.  Owners who buy from pet stores or puppy mills, even backyard breeders, often face serious illnesses or genetic health defects requiring extensive veterinary care shortly after or within the first year of bringing the dog home. In some cases the dog has long-term and ongoing problems.

Even if the puppy is 100% healthy, behavior problems are also a huge issue.  Puppies and their parents from puppy mills are kept in crowded cages where they are allowed to stand in or over their waste which falls through the metal wires that they have to stand and lay on day in and day out.  Because of these conditions, puppies lose their natural denning instinct to not go to the bathroom where they sleep and eat and as a result are much more difficult to potty train.  Puppies are also not handled much if at all in these situations by people and therefore can be incredibly difficult to handle and hold and may even attempt to bite their owner, people that attempt to pet them while their owner is holding them or people other than the owner that would like to handle the puppy.  Not to mention this also makes it increasingly difficult and stressful when it comes time to bathe, groom, and trim their nails.

It is also very common for puppies from puppy mills to be incredibly shy and scared, or have what is called neophobia–the fear of new things.  A puppy’s socialization period is between about 4 weeks and 16 weeks of age.  During those weeks it is crucial for a puppy to be exposed to as many new sites, sounds, surfaces, people, places, things and other animals as possible but in a positive manner.  When these puppies are kept isolated in cages and prevented from interacting with people and new situations, adverse effects are likely to result.  These puppies are very likely to become either overly shy and scared or over-reactive to new situations, people or animals.  A shy or scared puppy may very well end up biting a person or another dog when it becomes an adult as a way of feeling it needs to defend itself.  An over-reactive puppy may bark alarmingly at any little noise, movement, person or animal as their brain has not been properly prepared to process this new situation and therefore the dog does not know how to react and respond to such stimulus.

The livelihood of puppy mills totally depends on these things happening.

  • First, the public must be willing to never buy puppies in a pet store

  • Second, the American Kennel Club (“AKC”) and the American Pet Registry Inc. (“APRI”) must not be willing to issue registration certificates for the puppies born in puppy mills.

  • Third, legislation needs to be put into effect that bans the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores.

  • Fourth, pet stores need to pair with rescue groups that spay/neuter the dogs and cats/puppies and kittens, that are adopted out

  • And lastly, the public should agree NEVER to adopt a puppy/kitten unless the puppy/kitten is ALREADY SPAYED or NEUTERED as the follow up is just not where it needs to be in regards to deposits taken to ensure the the adopter will have the puppy/kitten spayed or neutered themselves.

For more information on puppy mills, please visit:                                                                        http://www.stoppuppymills.org/http://www.canine-world.com/mills.html

The public has options. If there is any compassion at all for the animals bred and raised under these miserable conditions then we need to stop buying puppies from pet stores. Instead, adopt from local humane societies/shelters or rescue groups. Each puppy purchased from a pet store, backyard breeder or via the internet adds to the problem and increases the demand for more over population.

SAVE A LIFE, ADOPT A HOMELESS PET.

Although it is not common for Colorado Shiba Inu Rescue to have puppies under 6 months of age available for adoption, it does happen.  Pure bred Shiba puppies typically do not end up in rescue for a few reasons.

  • Since Shiba Inus are not as popular of a breed as Labs, Goldens, etc., pure bred puppies are not often seen roaming the streets as strays or turning up on our doorstep as accidental litters.

  • Many of the adult females we receive are already spayed so the likelihood of receiving a pregnant Shiba Inu into rescue is very slim.

We thank you for opening your hearts and home to a rescued pet. We appreciate the fact that you are not purchasing your pet from a pet store that sells lives animals since most of those animals come from terrible situations such as puppy mills.

Sours: https://coloradoshibainurescue.org/adopt-a-shiba/puppy-mills/
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Puppy Mills


WHAT IS A PUPPY MILL?

A puppy mill is an inhumane, commercial dog-breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits. For more on puppy mills, see our videos below.

I am a Puppy Mill Dog by DC SIR:

See an 8 hour journey of 3 mill dogs that finally got their freedom with DC SIR in our video:


WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PUPPY MILLS?

DC Shiba Inu Rescue is a huge advocate for shutting down Puppy Mills. These are places where there is no consideration for the betterment of the breed and the quality of care is horrendous.


REPUTABLE BREEDERS: ARE YOU AGAINST BREEDERS?

DC SIR supports reputable breeders that contribute to the betterment of the breed, do all necessary genetic testing, and are educated about developmental stages in puppy development for optimal socialization.

For more on how to identify a reputable breeder: Responsible breeder vs a Puppy Right Now


WHY DON’T YOU BUY THE DOGS FROM THE MILLS?

DC SIR regularly gets in older Shiba Inus that are released to the rescue for free. These dogs are at the end of their breeding cycle and would otherwise be put to sleep (PTS) without ever knowing the kindness of humans. DC SIR DOES NOT BUY DOGS FROM THE MILL. We take a very strong position on this. DC SIR constantly advocates that the public needs to stop buying puppies from pet stores because these dogs are all supplied from mills.


THERE ARE TWO WAYS PUPPY MILLS WILL END:

  1. Through legislation set forth to shut down these operations. Click here to see puppy mill laws by state. The HSUS Puppy Mill Task Force Tip Line, 1-877-MILL-TIP, is available to anyone with information on a possible crime involving puppy mills.
  1. Supply and Demand. STOP BUYING THESE DOGS. Not because we are cruel and want the dogs to suffer but because the very action people believe are ‘saving’ these dogs is in fact contributing to the overall problem, which keeps mills in business.


SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Yes, we hear it all the time…“I saved this puppy from the pet store.” No, you contributed to the economics that put that puppy’s parents in an endless cycle of producing litters until they are tossed aside, inhumanely killed, or if lucky, released to a reputable rescue.

  • Need a refresher course on supply and demand, please watch this video. Now substitute the strawberries for Shiba Inus. Economics 101: Supply and Demand in Market.

  • So, how can we, as a responsible rescue, turn around and do the very same thing we ask you not to do? If we go to an auction to purchase puppies and pregnant mothers, we increase the supply. We argue that Rescues who purchase directly from the Puppy Mill are contributing even more to the problem.
  • HOW?
    When you buy a puppy from a puppy store, that puppy went through a broker. The Broker generally pays a couple hundred dollars (guaranteed purchase) from the Mills. The pet store then marks up the puppy a thousand dollars.
  • When a Rescue goes to an auction, they spend WAY more than what a broker pays. So the rescue provides the mill with MORE money and MORE incentive to produce MORE of that breed. This is why we DO NOT purchase puppy mill dogs and why we don’t get many puppies. However, we are adamant about adhering to the high ethical standards we ask of the public.

 

THE START OF RETAIL RESCUE

While this is probably less of a worry, the numbers are beginning to become alarming. There are more nefarious operations that are moonlighting as Rescues but are really a front for a money-making organization to get around the stricter laws in the puppy trade. These organizations will have a high volume of puppies, little or no senior or special needs rescues in its care; and little information on extensive care that seniors would need.

Read more about Retail Rescues here.

ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?

If a Mill is going out of business, we would consider raising funds for the purpose of purchasing the remaining Shiba Inus so our fans and followers would know exactly what their funds would be going to. However, we have never found a mill that is ‘truly’ going out of business. Many claim ‘closeout’ of one breed but will use funds secured during an auction to focus on replenishing stock of other breeds. These funds would not only contribute to the cycle of puppy mills, but would just go towards the torture of another breed.

 

Please EDUCATE your friends or other rescues who are not aware of how the system works.

Thank you.

Sours: https://dcsir.org/resources/puppy-mills/
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The House of Two Bows 雙寶之屋

Now that HBO has premiered Madonna of the Mills, we’re a step closer to leading everyone (or at least a segment of the TV-viewing population) to understand that pet store puppies come from horrid, festering, disgusting, putrid kennels. But what about the breeders that pet owners have so carefully “researched” online to make sure that they’re not dealing with the worst of the worst? What about the puppies that come from family farms located in the peaceful cornfields of the American Midwest? Surely nothing that horrendous could come from such idyllic locales. After all, these breeders send digital pictures and videos to “prove” that their puppies have been socialized with children, come from a clean home, and most important of all, are cute. Besides, why would the USDA be willing to license and inspect so many breeders if they were all puppy mills? Aren’t laws helpful, and doesn’t regulation and control ensure quality standards?

When we divert the “puppy mill problem” to the Amish or the Mennonites or pet stores or a few notorious states or poo-mixes, it’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking that the problem doesn’t concern us. But this corrupt, ineffective, and broken system continues because we’re still not paying close enough attention and we’re excusing our rash purchases with our love — our love for the one puppy we couldn’t resist, our personal claims on a breed, our unwillingness to admit the frailties of our own, precious egos.

Meanwhile, some breeds should urge us to a heightened degree of sensitivity. While virtually no breed is invulnerable to puppy mills of the past and present, I’m writing today’s doozy of an entry from a personal perspective of concern for what I’ve observed with the Shiba Inu. Despite their devilish reputation, Shibas are just too cute for their own good. As relatively recent AKC-approved breed that is steadily increasing in popularity, Shibas have fallen victim to commercial breeders at a rapid slide. They’re compact in size and easy to market, which makes them coveted “stock” with puppy mills. And there’s no way to even begin cleaning things up unless we can somehow peel back and demystify the layers of the problem.

A Shiba Inu removed from a Class A breeder in Iowa following a raid on March 15, 2010. This was one of 125 adults and 13 puppies on the premises. Though federal inspectors drew up a 10-page inspection report listing 21 violations, it was deemed that the dogs were being properly cared for and they were returned to the breeder. (Photo credit: The Gazette, KCRG News, http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/87735032.html)

Those of us who live in our happy hoo-hah urban centers or certain regions of the United States/the world may never have seen a puppy mill except on television or in images that tend to tout the worst. I also grant that USDA licensing means different things in different areas. My current state of residence, for example, is not a known puppy mill state. As befits our "high tech" reputation, however, California does seem to specialize in breeding facilities for non-human primates that are sold for laboratory research use. Florida, as another point of comparison, is prime breeding ground for exotics such as sugar gliders, reptiles, pet marmosets, and others. USDA licenses are even granted to a few legitimate conservatories for rare and wild species.

When we're talking about the American heartland, USDA licensed breeders are more often dealing in puppies. Lots of them at a time.

Since I had some time to kill on my multi-day drive across the country, since I had the freedom to choose a meandering route, and since I was curious and wanted to understand how an environment could give rise to and foster something that I find so deeply problematic, I took several hours out of my way to embark on a Midwest Puppy Mill [de]tour. Armed simply with directions from Google Maps, published lists of Class A and Class B certification holders, and my own accumulated knowledge of where Shibas are coming from, I embarked on a mission to see, smell, hear, and to witness for myself what counts as a USDA certified facility.

Sounds like a delightful way to spend one’s vacation, huh?

This whole thing was thrown together at the last minute, with little planning, so I didn’t get very in-depth. But with a long enough drive, even a superficial experience will unravel into several thousand words.

I got this idea when I first hit Iowa, a state I associate with a fairly active group of lobbyists and advocates to counter the high volume of puppy mills. There are quite a few Shiba Inu breeders in the state. Several are registered with the USDA. I selected one address in Lee County that I know deals in Shibas, and drove south off I-80.

A little over an hour later, I found myself on a state highway at my target destination. Drive just a smidge faster than the posted speed limits, and you’ll blow through the town within minutes. With an official population of 130, 100% white, suffice to say that I stood out as an obvious outsider. It was also easy to find the USDA Class A breeder that I was looking for, as Damming Farms* is conveniently located right across from the sign announcing the town limits.

90 adult dogs and 40 puppies on this property according to USDA inspection dated 24 October 2010

It looks like a beautiful home, located in the midst of flourishing corn and soy crops. The building that the Damming’s website describes as “the puppy house” is located in a separate, stand-alone structure. Curiously, and not mentioned on their website, there was another identically-designed structure right behind that, leading me to wonder if there was not just one puppy house, but two, indicating the volume at which this breeder produces puppies.

However, this was not at all the image of a “puppy mill” that I had in mind. And furthermore, it was eerily silent, for what I thought it was. Perhaps this was owing to the time of day, as the outdoors temperature was somewhere in the drowsy 80’s. At any rate, aside from the goosebumps of being gawked at when I stopped at the town gas station for a cup of coffee, it was turning out to be a pretty dull adventure so far, so I decided to find someplace to contemplate my next move.

I drove to a nearby baseball field, where I parked my car and pulled out my lunch. I savored the quiet, and tried to imagine the advantages of growing up in this landscape. At some point during my contemplation, someone returned to the Damming farm, raising up a significant frenzy of yapping dogs — most of them quite small, from the sounds of it. There were too many for me to distinguish just how many were barking at once, and since I was situated at a distance, the sounds were not as clear as they could have been. But that piercing, shrilling, almost frantic pack of unseen dogs left an impression on me, an audio confirmation of what I knew was in those buildings.

The least I can say is that the dogs don’t bark continuously. Their neighbors would not stand for it, I think. Their neighbors also surely consider them fine folks, because the Dammings are a prominent local family, probably with deep investments and long roots in this tiny community. They have a damn street in town named after them, after all. Protected by this veneer of being upstanding, down-home citizens, they’ll never be called out for what they do. Nobody in their community would ever think to condemn what they do as exploitative. They’ve just been handsomely successful at making a living and providing for their families.

On the backs of a couple dozen dogs.

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Welcome to the Midwest.

I’d seen and heard enough. I got in my car and continued driving West, quietly digesting what I had just seen.

It wasn’t until I got home that I finally looked up how many dogs they had. My guess of a couple dozen dogs and puppies was low, by manifold. There were actually 90 adult dogs and 40 puppies there, according to a USDA inspection report dated October 4, 2010. Apparently, you can cram a lot of dogs into a relatively limited area if the dogs are small to begin with, and if they’re not given any excess space.

Now, had I traveled the other way down the highway, I would have run into a neighboring town that is the site of a USDA Class B breeder whom I’ll call Lithopolis.* Earlier this year, Lithopolis housed more dogs than the population of the entire town. I kid you not. 1200 adult dogs and puppies according to a May 2011 inspection report, whereas the town’s listed population doesn’t even crack four digits.

But something happened between May and July, when another inspection was conducted. Within two months time, Lithopolis had gotten rid of nearly a thousand dogs, “downsizing” to a “mere” 228 adult dogs on his premises. When a puppy miller moves that many dogs at once, I get nervous… especially when I fear that they may be considering a strategic departure from the bully breeds they were familiar with, and creeping towards a growing interest in our beloved Shiba Inu.

By coincidence or by design, a Damming Farm co-breeder lives in the same town as Lithopolis. She doesn’t have a separate USDA registration on file, since she handles only the Shiba Inu for the family business. Given that her two females are pregnant for the second time this year, I wonder if she ever manages her “extra” puppies by passing them along to her neighboring USDA Class B breeder, since he professes an interest in the breed and, unlike Class A breeders, is licensed to broker sales of puppies that he didn’t produce himself.

Lithopolis' online gallery would lead you to believe they have just two handfuls of adult dogs. I guess they don't have time to post profiles for the 219 others on the premises, since they're too busy feeding and playing with and loving them all.

Since I did not see Lithopolis for myself, I can only imagine what the facilities were like. But further down West on the highway, I found another kennel that hinted at the degree of sanitary horrors I might have witnessed.

This is a Google Street View image of what I later confirmed as Randolph Farms.* I was able to match the name against the USDA lists, because they spell out the family name in stones on their front lawn. As this is an old shot from several years ago, some changes to the landscape are not represented. For one thing, the double-tiered kennel on the right exhibits some weathering. The saplings planted in front of the kennel had also grown just a little bigger to provide minimal shade and heat protection, though they do nothing to obscure the building from roadside traffic.

Like Lithopolis, Randolph Farms specializes in English Bulldogs. They also have a litter of Siberian huskies posted on Nextdaypets.com at the moment. Neither are breeds that seemed particularly well suited to life in this manner.

These kennels with a sheltered interior and a portal leading to an exposed cage are quaintly referred to in the industry as “Sundowner” type buildings (named after the original manufacturers), as if the dogs could strut onto an outdoor balcony and admire a view of golden sunset dripping over their vast, prairie home. The wire flooring is known as “Tenderfoot” flooring, as if the dogs are dancing ballerinas taking a graceful shit over heat-baked metal mesh. What these euphemistic terms mask, and what the pictures don’t divulge is how badly these kennels reek, even when someone is just casually driving by with the car windows rolled down.

Now, I don’t necessarily know how to distinguish all my farm scents, but I doubt the olfactory assault came from any nearby, invisible cows or horses or pigs. I have done some time mopping up a building that housed a large number of dogs, and while this odor didn’t exactly match, it was much closer to that memory than any manure. If just one of these Sundowners smells this bad, I can’t imagine how polluted the air would be with a dozen or more on the property.

Inspection reports suggest that my senses probably were not mistaken. They had been recently cited for “excessive accumulation of feces” and penning their dogs in cages that were smaller than required — which is saying quite a bit, since the USDA only requires 6 inches of additional space above the top of the animal’s head.

What struck me about this farm’s layout was its shamelessness, their willingness to put their “wares” out on roadside display, so to speak. The Randolphs don’t see what they’re doing as wrong. They’re proud to call this farm their own, stinky Sundowner and all. This mentality is what I was striving to understand as I continued through more back roads on into Nebraska. Must I have known nothing other than small town agricultural life in order to understand? Do I need a brood of human children to provide for before I can grasp the simple economics, let alone psychology, of this choice to breed and broker dogs for a living? A farmer’s gotta steel himself for the slaughter if he wants bacon for breakfast, but what kind of mental numbing must you force upon yourself to deny a species whose natural inclination is to be with humans?

From "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Care Program Inspection of Problematic Dealers," an APHIS self-audit report from May 2010, p. 52. These and even more graphic images appeal to us emotionally, as well they should. But this entry isn't meant to be a shock piece.

Numerous USDA breeder websites insist on the “joy” and the “pleasure” of having pets as their business. They drip with honeyed, vague testimonies about how well their “furbabies” are taken care of. But USDA regulations don’t promote ethical breeding practices, let alone responsible pet care; they basically provide for the minimum biological functions for penned livestock, and that’s it. There’s little incentive and not enough resources for puppy farmers to do more than the required minimum when they’re dealing with dozens, if not hundreds of breeding dogs at once.

The numbers alone signify such a completely different world, an entirely foreign mentality than what I know, though this mindset pervades all across the country. I know it’s not just an Iowa problem, or a Missouri problem, or a Lancaster County problem, or [insert place]. You could put a farm like this in the next county over and I’d still be aghast that the farmer and I are both human. Yet sometimes, because of where I live, it’s easy to bask in the self-assured conviction that we don’t have that kind of ugliness around here, knowing my community would quickly mobilize to purge anything like a puppy mill if it were right in our midst. But the truth is, those who’ve seeded the continued existence of puppy mills move amongst us all the time. Take this excerpt from Hearts and Sparkles* Kennels:

We started raising puppies over 15 years ago, with the help of our 3 children. Now, that our children are grown and on their own, they have started raising puppies, as well.

At first we sold our puppies to pet stores (mainly on the east & west coasts) and privately to people in our area. Lately, however, we have received many inquires from people who have purchased our puppies from those pet stores, wondering if they and their friends could buy puppies directly from us. The answer is obviously “YES!” and so here we are on the World Wide Web.

In these fifteen years, the internet has drastically changed the rules of engagement. Had the puppies stayed within these quiet little agricultural communities, perhaps my outrage, as an outsider, would be misplaced. But because the coasts and the Midwest are bridged by this traffic in puppies, and because they are just as complicit as we are (enthusiastically so!), I can’t say I feel any remorse about letting my city slicker coastal values hitchhike along with the dollars.

Or rather, my values tell me that I do not want my dollars to go to puppy producers whose standards fall so, so far short of my own. It’s just not worth it.

On one hand, the internet makes it easier to publicize the evils behind pet store pups and for dog lovers to network and confront the more public, commercial faces of the problem. On the other hand, the internet has also empowered individuals with the satisfaction of claiming ourselves as authorities, patting ourselves on the back for all the online “research” we’ve done on our chosen breed. You can’t boycott an individual, much less monitor the private desires of those who have invested months or years of their own precious time into making their dreams a living, wriggling, purchasable reality.

But you can attempt to reach out, and educate. Teach each other how to do some honest research, and also how research is an ongoing process. The one phrase that most often flusters me is “But I’ve done my research,” especially when it’s lobbied as a defense of one’s poor decisions (these are also my cranky graduate student instructor horns sprouting). Research is never “done” or completed. Now, I don’t even have the luxury of allowing myself that excuse when it came to how we acquired Bowdu, and I often feel like I’ll need to spend a lifetime atoning for my and others’ ignorance.

Yet, the beautiful thing is that once you know, you can’t really turn back. It takes a lot of effort or trauma to unknow something.

I’d rather take my knowledge along in search of more hopeful horizons.

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This was a more personal account of a topic that I’ll write more about later. In the next part, I’ll provide a better organized list of resources on how one can use the internet to research a breeder they’re considering (some resources are already embedded above, though there are definitely a few others).

Meanwhile, if you have HBO (which we don’t at the House of Two Bows, let alone a television), you can catch Madonna of the Mills again this Sunday, and several times afterward. Please check the official website for the schedule.

* Names changed not to protect the innocent, but because I can’t stand to give advertising to the puppy mills that I would rather see go out of business. The diligent or curious should have no trouble looking up any of my references. Or you can just ask.

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Sours: https://shibasenji.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/the-puppy-mills-that-dont-look-like-puppy-mills/

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