Petrified Pups in Putrid Plantations
You can’t see out. It’s dark and muggy. Bugs, mozzies and flies are constantly attacking you. You’re sleeping in water, mud and your own filth. There is no room to even turn around let alone play in. Hungry and starving, victims solider on hoping one day someone will set them free. But for some, that day never comes. Welcome to the life of a dog in a puppy farm.
“The smell of a puppy factory is unforgettable… they live in filth… their coats are often matted with faeces and stained with urine… dogs slowly go insane… they have never known kindness… dogs are kept in I large dirt pen surrounded by electric fencing wire to stop them escaping” – Oscar’s Law.
Segregated, malnourished, inbred and left to existent in their own filth, female dogs, known as ‘bitches’, are constantly exploited all over Australia; and the result of this – cute, fluffy, designer puppies that create maximum profit for breeders. Eventually, when the litter is sold for above average prices, the mothers and their battered bodies that have ultimately given up on them are euthanised and disposed of, as they aren’t of any use anymore. This industry is known as puppy farming, and through new legislation, activists and lobby groups, support from the community is growing, raising awareness and funds to stop the mistreatment of ‘mans best friend’. Although this is a great step towards justice, I believe that people still need to be educated about the conditions that millions of dogs are still living in and the how it affects the puppies, socially and health-wise. The intensity of the problem is growing, but the conditions are staying the same, and this needs to change. Being conscious is crucial as, ultimately; this deceptive trade could affect you when buying your next dog.
Dogs are amazing companions offering great social and therapeutic benefits for their owners, whilst stimulating the nation’s economy by creating jobs and keeping people in the vet care and supply industry in a job. So, understandably, 3.41 million dogs, or 36% of households own a dog Australia-wide. This statistic from the Australian Companion Animal Council Inc., highlights Australians need for a dog, and many want a pretty one at that. For this, they go to breeders.
A puppy farm (or puppy mill) is referred to by the RSPCA “an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated
under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs.” You may be thinking, like I certainly am,how can any ethical, humane or caring human treat a living being with such disrespect simply for money. Well, if you look into the facts, you can see why people selfishly invest their lives in this business.
Puppy farm raider, Deborah Tranter explains that “most puppy farms have between 200-300 female dogs and approximately 50 male dogs” in an interview with the RSPCA’s ‘Where do Puppies Come From?’ website. “This amount of dogs can earn the owner approximately $450,000 per year in puppy sales.”
This inordinate profit is evident in the dogs’ appearance. What I mean by this is that it is evident by how emaciated and dehydrated the mothers are throughout pregnancy, and after giving birth, due to breeders saving costs on feeding the dogs as infrequently aspossible. “Dogs are fed three times a week (usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday), even when pregnant, and any sick dogs are either killed or simply left to die”, mentioned the campaign PawsforAction.
Deborah Tranter also agrees – “The farms employ minimal staff to keep wages down and only feed the dogs once every second day. Veterinary treatment is rarely provided, as this is another expense.”
Critics argue that there is inadequate evidence to prove that dogs are being treated this cruelly, due to puppy farms being legal in Australia so long as breeders meet the minimum standard of care. But in my opinion, this minimum standard is hardly enough, and if the humans were treated this way, these conditions would be illegal.
This is because there is no requirement for any socialisation, grooming or bathing, human contact, exercise or for love – and dog behaviourists identify that this time, from birth to seven weeks, when these factors should be addressed, shape the puppies development physically, behaviourally and temperamentally. Without attention to these social factors, puppies’ temperaments can be severely affected. Being kept in isolated, barren and kennel environments with limited access and exposure to situations like children, loud noises, cars, animals and other situations, they find it difficult to cope in a normal busy household. These puppies need to experience what reality is, and they don’t. They are so severely confined, they don’t even get to walk on grass, forced to sit in the same stop 24/7. Due to this lack of exercise, the dogs muscles and bones subsequently become weak and painful.
“In Australia we kill approximately 160,000 dogs every year. That’s 350 a day or one every 4 minutes”, states the RSPCA’s ‘Where do Puppies Come From?’ website. This horrendous statistic shows that it’s not only social problems that are causing the deaths and euthanasia’s of all of these dogs. While farmers most commonly keep 200-300 bitches, realistically, farms can have anywhere between 20 and 1000 breeding females at any given time, and due to such high demand, bitches are kept constantly pregnant without any rest, putting major strain on their bodies.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the prime time for dogs to start breeding is at 6 months, when they are just puppies themselves. The ‘Where do Puppies Come From?’ website outlines “dogs that have given birth so many times that their uterus comes away form its body and becomes infected. Mother dogs dead with puppies stuck in the birth canal.”
It becomes simply too much. The dogs become competitive, aggressive and territorial, and due to the severe confinement, they start to go crazy and form repetitive behaviours known as ‘stereotypies’. Pacing back and forth is all they are able to do, and in some circumstances, tragically, end up eating their own puppies.
Mentally they are deteriorating, but they are also physically diminishing; and these conditions shocked me the most. They are exposed to the weather constantly, whether it be rain or shine, in cages made by the farmers. The dimensions of the cages are nowhere near large enough to compensate for the number of dogs confined. The immense overcrowding means that dogs are forced to defecate, eat, sleep and give birth in the same small area. As you can imagine, this lack of sanitation can lead to contagious diseases including canine parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and kennel cough. Not only this, their food is fed to them on the floor in the feces, becoming contaminated with insects and bacteria. This can cause gastrointestinal upsets and diarrhea, which covers their cage, which then they are expected to lay in.
There is disgustingly no basic care for these dogs. They are not bathed, and as a result, they are susceptible to sores and infections, inflammation, urine scald and bacterial and fungal skin infections. Without adequate grooming they also develop matted hair, which is extremely painful, ripping their skin apart and causing infection. Their poor diet and poor oral hygiene also causes rotting teeth, tooth decay and gum disease. While their ears and eyes are constantly infected and irritated from the mud, dust and dirt, and because they are not regularly checked and treated, cause life-long medical problems.
They also have no veterinary care as it another ‘unnecessary’ cost. Therefore there is no vaccinations, heartworm or intestinal worm prevention or flea prevention. This will be forged on registration papers by the farmers, along with other information including whether the puppy is a result of inbreeding. It is extremely common in puppy farms to have siblings and parents of the same family bred together, thus causing an array of permanent hereditary diseases. However, farmers will justify the puppies as purebred or Pedigree puppies and charge more for them, despite the continual fees the dogs with incur once they are with their new owners.
These amazing “intelligent animals are simply breeding machines. They are never walked, socialised or given any love.” So beware when buying your next puppy, or you could be supporting the horrific and torturous industry that could be causing cruelty to your next adored companion.