Let’s meet Jai and Veeru, brothers and best friends. These two are completely inseparable; their love for each other is only exceeded by their love for well… pretty much everyone else.
Jai and Veeru are two of the happiest puppies you could lay eyes upon, an ever-present smile, a perpetually wagging tail and twinkling eyes. Five minutes is all it takes to fall unequivocally in love with these beautiful pups, and for them to love you back. They light up the shelter with their energy, they start howling and barking the moment they spot you and don’t stop till they have your complete attention, wiggling and spazzing all over the place, just at the mere sight of you. They make you feel special, and to them you are.
So then why are these two Saint Bernard brothers at the shelter? Why is little Dancer, the Labrador girl? And Benji the tiny retriever, last to arrive of the bunch? All beautiful, happy, purebred puppies. Why would they possibly be abandoned? Because as happy as they are, they have a few reasons not to be.
Jai and Veeru were born with a congenital defect in their hips, little Dancer suffers from ataxia and Benji has contracted Distemper and Parvo at this tender age. All thanks to improper and unethical breeding practices indulged in at ‘Puppy Mills’ across the globe and the people who run these and treat living beings like profit making machines.
A puppy mill is defined as “an establishment that breeds puppies for sale, typically on an intensive basis and in conditions regarded as inhumane” for commercial purpose. They differ from legitimate licensed breeders practicing ethical breeding practices in that profit is of the utmost and only importance. A puppy factory or mill is generally overpopulated & crowded, with dogs crammed into small cages, often living in the most unhygienic conditions, sitting on their own excretion with little to no positive human interaction, the mothers and pups therefore are both unhealthy and living in miserable conditions. Bitches are required to litter twice a year and are separated from the babies much too early to prepare them for the next mating. Inbreeding and line breeding is far too common to ensure “pure blood lines”. All of this leads to seriously unhealthy puppies. Bitches in such “factories” are treated wholly as machines required to produce items for sale, they are injected with hormones, kept in small cages and bred over and over till they can’t anymore and die of abuse or are abandoned. These unfortunate animals have never known what it is to be a dog, they have serious health issues, are generally suffering from tumours and have serious separation anxiety and depression.
The puppies furthermore are riddled with diseases, due to a lack of basic sanitation, they are chock-full of parasites – ticks, fleas, worms and might be suffering from mange, distemper, Parvovirus, kennel cough and respiratory infections. Moreover, due to irresponsible breeding practices these puppies are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia, early glaucoma, kidney and heart disease, deafness, blindness, epilepsy and respiratory disorders.
Another factor, not often considered, is the behavioural problems that puppy mills foster. Puppies are separated from the litter and their mother as early as 4 weeks, this not only results in a weakened immune system but also causes behavioural problems as the first months of life are crucial socialisation period where the pups learn from both the mother and siblings. Furthermore, due to being cooped up in cages, travelling long distances to other cities in hardened conditions these puppies go through a lot of trauma. They are not exposed to humans and a home environment in a natural manner often resulting in anxiety and other behaviour issues at being introduced suddenly into a new environment with alien sounds and experiences. Puppy mill puppies are therefore often fearful of humans and other animals.
Jai, Veeru, Dancer, Benji and countless other puppies are victims of this inhumane practice, as are mothers like Heidi and Lady, puppy mill exploited bitches, who have never been allowed to live like a normal dog, never walked with a leash, never touched soft ground. “When we first adopted Heidi and took her to the countryside, she seemed unfamiliar with gardens, and perturbed by the concept of digging. She was taught to dig the ground by our Desi Bano, who is several years her junior, and then there was no looking back after that, together they could dig up a tunnel to China” says Heidi’s adoptive family.
Puppy mills are growing rapidly. CUPA, Banglore and the Animal Welfare Board of India estimate India’s pet trade business to have an annual turnover of several thousand crore rupees. These operations are awfully common in and around major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc. They are difficult to regulate and seem to subvert the law (since legislations are also not very solid) and authorities quite effortlessly. The reality of the situation is as long as the demand for these ‘purebred’ dogs and ‘designer breeds’ continues, these businesses will thrive. The only way of stopping this cruelty is to create awareness of its existence, let people know what they are supporting when they buy a dog, encourage friends and family not to buy pets and always remember to ADOPT DON’T SHOP!