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Animal rights activists worried about increasing number of puppy mills

Dogs bought from puppy mills often turn out to be sick, weak, or not at all the breed the buyers paid for.
Dogs bought from puppy mills often turn out to be sick, weak, or not at all the breed the buyers paid for. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

Puppy mills make money by breeding as many dogs as possible and selling them at the highest possible price. The animals are often kept in inappropriate conditions, but protecting them from bad treatment is difficult.

As the Estonian Animal Protection Society (Loomakaitse Selts) reports there are an increasing number of people at work in Estonia that are making money by running puppy mills. Parent animals are paired up too often, the amount of litters is too high to create conditions appropriate to the animals, and the puppies are taken away from their parents too early, ERR’s radio news reported on Monday.

According to the society’s spokeswoman, Liisa-Indra Pajuste, buyers often had no idea where their dogs came from. The seller typically insisted on meeting in a public place, on parking lots or markets. The animals are paid for in cash, which makes later demands almost impossible.

A few days ago the Animal Protection Society published images on its social media accounts of puppies sold on markets. They have collected dozens of individual stories of people who ended up realizing that they had bought from a puppy mill.

In plenty of cases the owners noticed as the dogs were growing bigger that they weren’t the breed they had paid for, in other cases the animals were ill or weak and died soon after.

Unfortunately the legal prescriptions how to breed and keep dogs can be interpreted rather loosely, which means that there isn’t much hope for action on this basis. But people should still lodge a complaint with the Veterinary and Food Board, or then report the puppy mills to the Animal Protection Society, Pajuste said.

“From the point of view of animal protection it’s very important that people report these situations more often, so that we can send our volunteers to these places,” she added.

Pajuste also pointed out that buying puppies from these kinds of people to save the dogs wasn’t the right thing to do either: as long as they were able to sell animals, they would continue. “People should always buy from trustworthy sellers,” she stressed.

Getting a dog, buyers should demand to see the mother as well as the rest of the litter, if at all possible, to see that the puppies are healthy and not in any way drowsy or neglected. Ideally, they should demand a veterinary passport, and the dog should be chipped, vaccinated, and entered into the appropriate register.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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