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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

March 23 is National Puppy Day

Animal activist and author Colleen Paige started National Puppy Day on March 23, 2006 to celebrate the joy that puppies bring. Even more importantly, the Celebrity Pet and Home Lifestyle Expert hoped to encourage people to adopt instead of shop when they want to add a puppy to their family.
According to Paige, as many as 10,000 puppy mills currently exist across the United States. People who run puppy mills purposely allow their dog to get pregnant in hopes of selling the puppies to a pet store, online, or through local advertisements. The demand for so-called designer puppies is one of the reasons puppy mills exist in the first place. Puppy mills would simply go out of business if pet stores stopped selling puppies.
How to Recognize a Puppy Mill
If you meet with a breeder to potentially buy a puppy, be aware of several red flags that could indicate you’re dealing with someone who runs a puppy mill. These include:
  • Puppies who won’t interact with people or seem lethargic
  • An overly thin or limping puppy
  • Strong odor coming from the kennel
  • Puppies with excess discharge coming from their eyes
  • The breeder won’t allow you to see either of the puppy’s parents
A responsible breeder limits the number of litters their dogs produce each year and provide the animals with exceptional care. Puppy mill operators, on the other hand, view the puppies as mere commodities. They often live in squalid, cramped conditions and don’t receive any healthcare or the vaccines they need to get off to a healthy start in life. 
It’s common for unethical breeders to separate puppies from their mothers too early, which means they miss out on learning basic social skills that allow them to behave well when they go to live with humans. Unfortunately, this means that many of them end up abandoned or in shelters. Once a female dog starts showing signs of declining fertility, the breeder may kill her or send her to another backyard breeder who will attempt to get one more litter out of her. Puppy mills are one of the biggest reasons we have a pet overpopulation problem in the United States.
Better Ways to Adopt a Puppy
If you do choose to buy a dog from a breeder, you should check the following at a minimum:
  • No complaints with the Better Business Bureau or previous lawsuits
  • Puppy has received a valid health certificate from a veterinarian
  • The breeder is licensed to do business in Minnesota
  • No signs of illness with any of the puppies
Purebred puppies or young adult dogs often end up surrendered to shelters through no fault of their own. If you prefer a younger dog, consider giving a shelter dog a second chance at a loving family. It can be a very rewarding experience. When you get your new dog home, be sure to schedule an appointment with Minnesota Veterinary Hospital to get caught up on vaccines and ensure your new friend’s good health.

Photo Credit: Master 1305 / Getty Image