Getting to the roots of the puppy mill debate

An article posted on the Riverfront Times website includes some interesting thoughts and information on the puppy-mill debate.

First, we have this from the piece – “” Bonnie Schindler and her husband, Herman, are both 75 years old. They’ve bred and sold dogs in Missouri for almost 50 years. At one point, records show, they had 2,913 dogs, all but a few hundred of them breeding stock. “”

This past fall, ahead of the vote on Prop B in Missouri, the couple decided to sell 665 adult dogs and 295 puppies.

And from the article – “” To those in the dog-breeding world, Bonnie Schindler is a saint, a well-respected breeder who has lobbied on behalf of the Professional Pet Association on Capitol Hill, dined with then-Congressman Roy Blunt and presented workshops on canine pediatrics at conferences for breeders. Betty Dwiggins, another breeder, describes Schindler as “a wonderful person and a wonderful breeder,” who works hard to ensure the health and quality of her dogs. “”

And yet, it is reported that the Schindlers were frequent flyers for USDA violations – 35 pages strong – and tallied 133 Missouri Department of Agriculture violations. But the slap-on-the-wrist system in place before Prop B allowed them to continue to hold their federal and state licences.

From the article – “” Excerpts of a July 2010 USDA inspection report detail emaciated dogs, puncture wounds, oozing sores and a newborn husky whose tail had been bitten off by its mother in the hours immediately after its birth, leaving a raw wound. In another excerpted inspection, USDA personnel reported a burning sensation in their eyes and strong odors emanating from areas where the dogs were housed. “”

So here we get to the heart of it.

For one side –  housing hundreds to thousands of dogs in cramped cages for the totality of their lives is fine. It’s a business. If the dogs suffer and are found to have open wounds and other untreated illness – well – that’s just part of the cost of doing business.

It’s like the greyhound racing industry, where it’s a so-what attitude for thousands of dogs that die each year.

For the other side – we have concerns for the physical and mental well-being of animals. When we read about dogs being caged 24/7 and when we read inspection reports that note horrible findings, we wonder why those facilities were not immediately shut down and why the dogs were not immediately rescued.

If police or child welfare officials entered a home to find severely abused children, they wouldn’t just fine the people involved and tell them they might be back in a month to re-inspect the home.

In addition, I have to note that this article and most like it nearly always fail to highlight the mental anguish the animals suffer through from constant confinement. No animal wants to be caged 24/7 in this way and certainly mammals suffer greatly from it.

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