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May 7, 2013

Anatomy of a Puppy Mill Raid: False Assurances

Appearances can be deceiving. Learn to avoid supporting a puppy mill.

All Animals magazine, May/June 2013

  • Idyllic photos on Callie Abel's website hid the cruel truth at her puppy mill.

(page 5 of 5)

By her own account, for 20 years—from 1983 into the early 2000s—Callie Abel was an AKC exhibitor, breeding and showing registered, pedigreed dogs. Before his sick, neglected malamutes were seized in October 2011, Mike Chilinski was an AKC-inspected “champion breeder.” (Chilinski was convicted of animal cruelty last year and sentenced to serve five years in prison.)

A dog’s registry speaks just to her pedigree, not whether she’s healthy or from a breeder who gives adequate care, says The HSUS’s Kathleen Summers. The AKC inspects only breeders who register  seven or more litters a year, and inspectors are concerned only with the accuracy of record-keeping—whether the parents of a golden retriever, say, were indeed golden retrievers. Meanwhile, the organization maintains a weak stance against puppy mills; a recent HSUS report details its financial ties to the industry and routine opposition to better laws.

Checklist: Identifying a responsible breeder »

Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue is one of the surest ways to strike a blow against puppy mills. But those set on patronizing a breeder should not buy sight unseen, even if the breeder has an attractive website or a relationship with the AKC. People shouldn’t buy a puppy at a flea market either, because seeing a dog in isolation doesn’t reveal the conditions in which she was raised. Instead, buyers should always go to the breeder’s house and see not only the puppy, but the puppy’s mother and father, plus the other dogs on the property. They should contact the breeder’s references and check for complaints.

It comes down to transparency, says Summers. Responsible breeders welcome visitors. Puppy mills don’t, because they have something to hide. “People always want a formula for how I recognize a puppy mill. The answer is: You go to their door and ask to see their dogs.”

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