I am frequently asked, "Why are these puppy mills still in operation?" The following will hopefully give you some insight. This is a transcript (2011) of an interview by Kimberly Thomas of Kismutt Rescue.
Kimberly, is in these Amish Puppy Mill barns several times a week. Kimberly has approx. 24 Amish Puppy Mills who surrender their cull dogs to her, and these are the conditions she see's in these barns on a day to day basis.
1. Please define the term "puppy mill".
Mass breeding of dogs, living in substandard conditions, for profit only. Puppy mills are not showing their dogs, they are not bettering the breed, it is strictly for profit. They breed many different breeds of dogs, not for quality but for quantity to make money.
2. Approximately how many puppy mills are there in Ontario and where are they located? Approximately how many dogs pass
through Ontario puppy mills each year?
I can't tell you for sure how many puppy mills there are in Ontario. From my experience and the puppy mills I rescue dogs from, there are over 100 Amish Puppy mills in Ontario that I know of personally. They are located in Milverton, Millbank, Linwood, Dorking, Elmira, Brunner, Wellesley, Topping, Moncton, St. Jacobs, Wallenstien, Springfield, Ostrander, Aylmer, Lucknow, St. Helens, Kincardine, Blythe, Mount Forest, Proton Station, Harriston, Tara, and Chesley.
3. What conditions do the dogs live in at these mills? What are the main health and safety issues present at these puppy mills?
The dogs live in small kennels and cages. Most of the puppy mills have a thin layer of shavings for bedding. No other bedding whatsoever. Underneath the very thin layer of shavings is either dirt floors or cement. These are old barns. Most of them rustic centry old barns. They clean the kennels out with a shovel and put down another thin very thin layer of shavings. They only clean out every two or three days. There is no hot running water in these barns as they do not have hydro. Therefore, the kennels are not cleaned/disinfected with hot water and bleach or hot water and virkon like a proper kennel. Typically, they feed in stainless steel bowls and use large hamster style bottles with a stainless steel nipple for water. The dogs lick the nipple to get water. Some just use stainless steel bowls for water. Because these are old barns with no hydro, there is no ventilation, there is no cooling in the summer, and no heat in the winter. Because the Amish have no hydro, they can't clip the long haired non shedding dogs. These dogs look like matted sheep. These dogs are NOT treated as pets. They are there for one purpose and that is to mass produce puppies. These dogs are livestock to the Amish and treated as livestock. Because there is no hydro, no running hot water, no drainage, no septic tanks and drainage of any kind for these old barns, disease and parasites are ramped. Coccidia, Giardia, Parvo, Kennel Cough, Sarcoptic Mange severe skin infections, eye infections are very very common.
4. What are the physical and emotional effects of these health and safety issues on the dogs?
These dogs are not pets. They are treated as livestock. They are not handled by humans in a loving fashion. Most of them are almost feral. They run from human hands. They will not take a treat/food from a human hand. They have never been petted, so they are fearful and very under socialized. They have never stepped outside their cages and kennels, so they have never experienced sun on their backs, grass under their feet, and all the normal things a dog has experienced. These dogs will crawl up a wall or smash into a wall of their kennels to get away from you. Try putting a wild fox in a kennel and then try to catch him. That is what most of these dogs are like when I get them. The most common physical health issues are: ulcerated/perforated eyes, glaucoma, severe skin infections, huge umbilical hernias, inguinal hernias, cherry eyes, cauliflower ears, hematomas, pyometra, mange, severe eye infections, bronchitis, lung infections, Coccidia, Giardia, urine burn, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, broken limbs, missing limbs, broken jaws, severe mouth disease and large abscesses and urine burned feet.
5. You have mentioned that many dogs are killed at these puppy mills. Why? How? and How Many?
Yes, many dogs are shot behind the barns at these puppy mills. If they are not producing large enough litters, are getting old and spent, are very sick or injured, not coming into heat or not "catching" they take them behind the barns and shoot them. They use a regular 22 caliber gun. Some do overdose their dogs with antibiotics or de-wormers, but for the most part they shoot them. I have been to farms where there will be 5,6,7 dead dogs lying in the manure pile. There is no way for me to know how many get shot each year. I would only be guessing, but I would definitely say hundreds.
6. What action does the OSPCA take to rectify these problems? What are the shortcomings of the OSPCA's handling of these mills?
First and foremost, the OSPCA has no oversight. This needs to change. Frank Klee's, an MPP, is working hard to change this. I support Frank Klee's 100%. If you did not have a boss whatsoever, and you were allowed to run wild and do whatever you wanted to do, how many of us would be disciplined enough to do our jobs well? We would slack off, that is only human nature. Well, the OSPCA has no boss. They have no one to watch over them, so they do slack off, and they do run wild and they do whatever, however they want. When the Newmarket OSPCA had a ringworm outbreak, they killed approx. 200 dogs. It was Frank Klee's that stepped in to stop the mass killing, otherwise there would have been another hundred or so dogs killed. The OSPCA did not want to spend the money, nor did they want to take the time to clear up the ringworm which was very treatable. It is the same thing with these puppy mills. They do not want to spend the money going after these puppy mills, removing literally thousands of dogs and treating their many aliments. They also have never, to my knowledge worked with outside agencies like HSI (Humane Society International), which would be more than happy to come in and work with them. The HSI does this service free of charge, yet the OSPCA has never allowed them to help that I am aware of and I have been in animal welfare for a very long time. In my opinion, the OSPCA wants all the power to themselves. They don't care about these animals, they care about funding their pay checks. When they do rescue a "few" dogs from a puppy mill here and there, they blast it all over the T.V., radio and newspapers and cry for donations. And they know it works. They get millions and millions of dollars each year in donations, but very very little goes to the animals. If they really cared about the animals, why would they not let outside organizations in to provide free medical treatment, free housing and provide free care for these animals?
Secondly, for example. Wellesley, Ontario which is heavily populated with Amish puppy mills, is inspected once per year by the Wellesley Township Animal Control Officer. The Animal Control Officer for Wellesley Township, calls upon the Kitchener Humane Society Inspector to accompany her to do the yearly inspection on these licenced puppy mills. People will be shocked to know that they are being licensed. The Township issues the license, but the Kitchener Humane Society attends for the Inspection of the kennel. Year after year after year these puppy mills get their licenses renewed by the Township. This is the kicker....the puppy mill owner gets 2-3 weeks notice of their inspection date. These puppy mills have time to clean up, move dogs to secondary locations, which are often just to another barn down the road, so that the worst dogs are never seen. I have asked what good is giving them notice? This is like the police phoning a crack house and letting them know what date their inspection is. The other kicker, is that to pass a license for a proper kennel, it must meet the Canadian Kennel Code. Tell me, with no hydro, no hot water to clean with, no septic tanks, no drainage, no heat in the winter and no cooling in the summer and no hydro to run clippers, how on earth do they pass the Canadian Kennel Code? I have asked those questions over and over, but I am not given the answer to that. They simply refuse to answer. The Kitchener Humane Society nor the Animal Control Officer for Wellesley Township will answer this question. As far as I am concerned, by passing their inspections, both the Kitchener Humane Society and the Wellesley Township are endorsing dogs living in very substandard conditions which don't even come close to passing the Canadian Kennel Code.
7. Tell me about the OSPCA raid earlier this winter. Please include details about the circumstances of the raid (example, warnings) ,
what they did do, and what they didn't do and what was the outcome?
On February 27th of this year, 16 Amish owned puppy mills were raided in Lucknow, Ontario. The OSPCA was warned well in advance that there were approx. 1100 dogs on these 16 farm properties. They were asked to call in HSI. HSI would have helped, as they helped in so many other very large puppy mill raids, like the Paws-R-Us puppy mill raid in Shawville Quebec last September. The HSI helped remove well over 500 dogs from that puppy mill. The HSI provided free medical care, free housing, free food, round the clock care from volunteers and the Red Rovers. However, to my knowledge, the OSPCA did not call in the HSI to help with the 16 Amish Puppy Mills in Lucknow, Ontario. The OSPCA removed only 73 dogs. Out of approx. 1100 dogs, only 73 were removed. Then the OSPCA had the nerve to cry, scream and kick for donations. It was just a very sad day for all the dogs left behind. For the dogs left behind, the OSPCA wrote "orders". These same 16 puppy mills are still going strong.
8. How are puppy mills related to pet stores and retail outlets?
Pet stores buy their puppies directly from the puppy mills. They can pick and choose how many litters they want, and what breeds. Do not ever be fooled, pet stores only purchase puppy mill puppies. A reputable breeder would NEVER sell their puppies to a pet store. So, if a pet store employee tells you they come from reputable breeders, that is just simply a lie. Pet store employees are taught and told what to say to customers, and they will NEVER tell you the name and place of the breeder they came from because it is not a reputable breeder! It will significantly hurt the puppy mill business if all cities were to ban the selling of puppies in pet stores and retail outlets. Toronto and Mississauga have a ban on selling puppies in pet stores and retail outlets and this is just terrific!! We need every city across Ontario, every city across Canada, to ban pet stores and retail outlets from selling puppies and kittens.
9. What needs to be done to eliminate puppy mills?
First and foremost, our laws need to change. Our Government needs to step up and take action. Our OSPCA's and SPCA's need oversight and someone to hold them accountable for their actions and non-actions. The Animal Care & Review Board is not enough to oversee the OSPCA and the SPCA's. The Animal Care & Review Board doesn't even come close to holding them accountable. Secondly, every city and town in Ontario and across Canada needs a ban in place that prohibits pet stores and retail outlets from selling puppies and kittens.
10. How can people help?
The best thing you can do is adopt a dog from a shelter, pound or rescue group, and know that you are not ever supporting a puppy mill. If you absoultely must buy from a breeder, you need to educate yourself before buying a puppy so you do not unknowingly buy from a broker or puppy mill. Brokers buy puppies in bulk from the puppy mills and resell them on Kijiji and Craigslist. When the public goes to buy their puppy, they need to make sure they see both parents of that puppy while it is still nursing! If there are no parents, or they won't allow you to see the parents, run in the other direction. A reputable breeder does not operate large kennels, and they do not house their dogs in barns, and they have BOTH parents on sight kept inside the home as pets. Their dogs are CKC registered and they are showing their dogs, and their dogs have their hips, eyes and elbows certified and cleared by a vet and they have the paperwork to prove it. Thousands and thousands of dogs are euthanized in shelters and pounds every year because there are simply not enough homes.
St. Marys, ON
Kismutt Dog Rescue
Kimberly Thomas/Kismutt Rescue on T.V. speaking about Puppy Mills in Ontario