We were incredibly honored and very humbled this week, to receive a plaque from the Humane Society of the United States, in recognition of our policy of never allowing our products to be sold in stores that sell puppies, and for being a part of the ‘humane economy’.
As you may know, we’ve refused to allow ‘puppy mill’ stores to carry our line since we first began, many moons ago, in 2002. Instead, we support pet supply retailers who host pet adoptions in their stores or work with local rescue groups. We also help educate people on how to find a responsible breeder (there’s a whole chapter devoted to ‘responsibly sourcing’ your new pup or older dog, in my new book Dog Obsessed, out October 10th).
The true cost of buying a puppy from a store—in terms of animal welfare, health concerns, and other problems—is unbelievable. Some people find it next-to-impossible to resist picking up that adorable puppy who’s rolling around in shredded newspaper behind a wall of glass. But if you buy one of these dogs, you’re doing more harm than good on many different levels.
Practically all dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills—hideous places that raise animals in terrible conditions without the proper socialization or health care that’s so essential in making a good long-term pet. These irresponsible breeders mass-produce purebred dogs with no concern for genetic quality, instead focusing on profit. Puppy mill dogs are notorious for having a host of chronic conditions including epilepsy, kidney problems, and diabetes. A responsible breeder would ensure a sick dog is removed from the husbandry pool, but that’s not the case with a puppy mill operator who’s mass-producing dogs to be sold like any other inventory in pet stores.
Puppy mills are downright inhumane, with deplorable conditions that cause dogs to suffer and die prematurely. Can you imagine letting your precious pup live outside in the dead of winter, or forcing him to live in a wire cage with no padding for his tender paws? Puppy mills do this on a regular basis. Unlike most happy puppies from responsible breeders, these dogs aren’t in the kitchen surrounded by things like children, cats, and normal daily activities and routines. This lack of socialization to people means they don’t have well-developed manners, essentially setting them up for failure as house pets.
Most puppies are taken away from their mothers by 6 weeks of age—a time when they are still learning their way in the world and desperately need a mother’s affection. Then they’re shipped like freight on trucks, and many perish on the road to their temporary shop-window home. Chances are that the store makes little to no effort to ensure the right animal is placed with the right family, and if you end up with a problem with the puppy later in his life, neither the store nor the breeder is going to help you out.
Finally, puppy mill pets are not sufficiently socialized to normal everyday situations—like going out into the yard to pee and poop—which causes them to suffer various behavioral problems like nuisance barking or difficulties with potty training because they’ve had no choice but to live in contact with their own urine and feces. Frustrated owners then give up on them, sending them off to a shelter, where they may be rendered unadoptable.
You might believe that you’re “saving” a dog if you buy him at a pet store, but in actuality it perpetuates a huge, long-term problem. So please, end the sad cycle of abuse started by puppy mills and channel your energy into buying or rescuing a dog responsibly.
Lucy Postins is founder and Chief Integrity Officer at The Honest Kitchen. She is a companion animal nutritionist who started The Honest Kitchen in her kitchen in 2002. She is passionate about advanced nutrition and holistic health including complementary modalities such as herbalism and homeopathy. Considered an expert in her field, Lucy frequently writes articles for local and national media, conducts radio interviews and educational spots, and occasionally holds educational seminars for pet owners on the importance of good nutrition. She also recently authored Dog Obsessed, a guide to a happier, healthier life for the pup you love.