"How Much is That Doggie in the Window"
Information about Most Pet Shop Puppies
By Dave Boykin
Cute, playful, and wanting to be adopted, those adorable little pet shop puppies tug at your heartstrings. A Shiba in itself is special, and when you see one in a pet store, it just calls out your name, and you are wanting to take him home.
STOP! Let's look at where the pet shops usually obtain their Shiba puppies. Certainly not from any reputable breeder or member of the National Shiba Club of America, because all our members are required to subscribe to a strict code of ethics prohibiting any sale of pups through brokers or pet shops.
While many people may be familiar with the term "puppy mill," the horrors associated with them are often not known to the public. Puppy mills are facilities, (and there are thousands of them) licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture, that mass produce puppies for pet stores throughout the country. Many of these facilities house hundreds of dogs in cramped hutch-style cages with wire floors. Puppies are frequently subjected to deplorable conditions from birth and during transport from breeder, to broker, to pet stores hundreds of miles from where their lives began.
A few Midwestern states are home to the largest concentration of puppy mills in the Country. Many of the operators of these puppy mills hold other jobs and utilize mass-production methods. The USDA does what it can to inspect when they receive enough public complaint, but the mills just keep popping up elsewhere.
The average puppy mill will house dozens up to hundreds of breeding animals, most housed in hutch-style cages with wire floors. The fecal matter drops to the ground below and waste accumulates beneath the cage, providing a haven for flies and other vermin. Even with fairly prompt removal of waste, the ground becomes permeated with stench as the urine cannot be raked away.
Dogs housed in indoor facilities endure an equally deplorable existence with ammonia vapors and odors permeating poorly ventilated buildings. rodents, flies and other pests plague the animals almost constantly. At 8 weeks of age puppies are "harvested" and cleaned up for the trip to the broker. They are bathed to clean up feces and odors they have endured during their brief lives in the puppy mill. Pus is wiped from their sad and scared eyes just before they are shoved into whatever is convenient, with any luck, an approved shipping container. Some will perish, others will be rejected by the broker only to be saved for breeding stock while many others will be inhumanely killed or sold for research. The survivors can be seen at your local pet store, but the emotional scars and irresponsible animal husbandry can bring misery into your home instead of anticipated joy.
If you have compassion for the animals bred and raised under these miserable conditions stay out of pet stores. Each puppy purchased from a pet store serves an industry with no conscience and little enforcement.
Select a recognized breeder, and do your own investigation. If possible, visit the breeder, and see the Shibas in their natural surroundings. If this is not possible, ask for placements that they have made that are within driving distance of you, and ask if you may call them for reference. You may wish to visit them, and get an idea of the temperament you may be getting if you adopt a Shiba from this breeder.
Try not to be in a hurry. You are making a 14-16 year or more commitment, and this should never be taken lightly.
Good breeders will also do health pre-screening of all their breeding stock in the form of OFA Certifications (for hips), and CERF clearances for possible eye defects. Many good breeders also have patellas checked in all breeding stock for soundness.
Be patient, go visit the breeder, and be prepared to put a deposit on a future puppy, if your breeder has none available at this time. Please stay away from the pet shops that sell dogs. Buy your pet foods from responsible pet stores that leave the puppies to reputable breeders.
© 1999 - 2006 C. Kaufmann, Windcastle Shiba Inu