Over 20 years ago (seems like another lifetime!) I went to a pet store to buy food for my Ferret, and there, in a small cage, was a little fluff ball, who's big brown eyes beckoned to me.. the lady in the store asked if I wanted to hold him. I never put him back, emptied my bank account (I was very young and naive) and went home with my first dog, Spike.
There was no social media then, so I had NO IDEA what a 'puppy mill' was or where puppies in pet stores came from..
Ten years later, after my sweet little Pom got very very sick, I discovered the truth about where he came from, a place called a 'puppy mill' that had purchased AKC papers for all of their dogs. I couldn't believe that his 'papers' meant nothing.. they were just a ploy to make me think I had bought a healthy, well cared for, puppy.
That's when my eyes were opened to the Hell that these dogs go through, and it's all for profit. And my Spike had a genetic disease because of his 'breeding' that we could not cure, though we spent thousands trying. But it's the puppies' parents who really suffer. They never see the outside of a cramped, dirty cage, never touch grass with their paws, never feel love from a human, and never receive any veterinary care. That's how these puppy millers make their profits, the dogs are just 'machines' to make puppies, and it's heartbreaking to me.
Fast forward to today, my husband and I have the last of our four adopted Shiba Inus, Rosie. (Our first two, Barbie & Caleb, passed suddenly within 8 months of each other, then our little JoJo who was over 17 years old about a year later)
Rosie was purchased from a pet store by her former owners. Surprise surprise she was too much for them to handle, so they dumped her at a shelter, where we found and rescued her.
She's seven now, and has turned out to be a wonderful girl, after a LOT of work. She had/has many behavioral issues and we worry about her future health, since she did not come from a reputable breeder, but we just love her every day and hope for the best..
I've learned a lot about how deceptive puppy mill 'brokers' are, these days they sell them online and you see all the cute puppies on a website (or in a store) and think 'they look so healthy!'
DON'T BE DECEIVED. A good breeder (reputable breeder) would never sell a puppy to you without first meeting you, and you visiting their home and seeing how the pup parents actually live. Good breeders do all the genetic tests they can BEFORE breeding, to be as sure as possible that their pups will be healthy for life. They compete at shows with their dogs, and work with their peers to ensure the longevity of their chosen breed.
MORE HERE on all of the things responsible breeders do and how to distinguish a good breeder from a bad one..
If you want a pure-bred dog, you might be surprised by how many ARE available from rescues! All FOUR of our pure-bred Shibas were adopted from rescues and shelters.
Just a quick search on Petfinder.com will bring up a bunch of your favorite breeds! Or, visit a local shelter and let your heart decide..
You can also do your research and get on a waiting list with a responsible/reputable breeder who will welcome you and guide you throughout your puppy's life.
That's Rosie, pictured below, and then my Spike.. I like to picture him like that, flying free, healthy and happy again.