Posts Tagged ‘puppy mills’

Puppy Mills

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

This is too important not to discuss!  Nebraska is in the top five states for puppy mills!  In today’s Life with Dogs post, I discuss the pet store end of the problem.  Is this a solvable problem?  I really think it is!

Have You Ever Accidentally Supported a Puppy Mill?

The Year in Review – Veterinary Medicine in 2010

Monday, February 21st, 2011

This was meant to be a summary of veterinary medicine in 2010 in 500ish words – ha!  I picked some highlights.  What would you have added??  If I talked about my personal year as a veterinarian, that would have been a completely different article.  This was very fun to write.

The Year in Review – Veterinary Medicine in 2010

Shawn Finch, DVM

Stem cell therapy has become fairly common, the melanoma vaccine is being used in dogs with great success, Proheart returned to the veterinary market, we were all affected by the melarsomine shortage, the balance tipped from a majority of male veterinarians to a majority of female veterinarians…2010 has been quite a year to be a veterinarian!

This year has seen exponential growth in veterinary internet involvement.  We started out dealing with the internet “defensively,” trying to undo problems created by false information.  We quickly learned to proactively add our voices as reliable authorities on animal health issues.  We have had to deal with client feedback in a more public way than ever. As disconcerting as that has been, we have handled it with the prompt attention and grace that we always have.

The increase in online interactions between pet parents and veterinarians has raised many ethical issues.  We can put all sorts of medical information onto the internet, but we still cannot diagnose or treat without a valid patient-client-doctor relationship firmly in place.  We have the ability to post patient pictures and cases onto the internet in full view of the world almost instantaneously.  We have shown tremendous restraint in doing that only when we have permission from our team leadership and clients.  Clients know that in this age of instant information, they can still trust us completely with their privacy and that of their pets.

Many of our veterinary journals have become accessible online.  As much as I have enjoyed the internet explosion and accompanying learning curve, I still request paper copies of my favorite journals.  I will probably be among the last of us to give that up.  Just admitting that makes me want to plant a tree.

We have always advocated humane breeding practices.  As restrictions on high-volume puppy sellers have tightened in the United States, international puppy sources have become more popular.  Our next battle may be assuring that the puppies imported into our country are shipped humanely and legally and enter the country free of contagious and zoonotic diseases.

A second report on veterinarians and suicide was published in England earlier this year.  The authors’ first report revealed that we are much more likely to commit suicide than people in the general population.  Their second report explored the reasons this may be true.  Everyone is an individual, and the sample size was relatively small, so we are not doomed.  Do keep a caring eye on your colleagues though and take good care of yourself.

Finally, the United States Congress recently proclaimed 2011 “World Veterinary Year” in honor of the 250th anniversary of our profession.  The resolution was introduced by the two veterinarians serving in Congress and passed with support from veterinarians across the country.  2010 was quite a year to be a veterinarian.  I am excited for what is to come, next year and beyond.

This was first published at The Wagging Tail for Veterinary Professionals on December 28, 2010 as “A Great Year for Veterinary Medicine.”

Puppy Mills and Missouri Proposition B

Friday, November 5th, 2010

On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, Missouri voted “yes” on Proposition B:

“A ‘yes’ vote will amend Missouri law to require large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food, clean water, housing and space; necessary veterinary care; regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles.  The amendment further prohibits any breeder from having more than 50 breeding dogs for the purpose of selling their puppies as pets.  The amendment also creates a misdemeanor crime of ‘puppy mill cruelty’ for any violations.”

At first glance, of course every reasonable person would vote “yes” to tighter regulation of dog breeders in the hopes of shutting down large-scale unscrupulous breeders, commonly known by the too-kind euphanism “puppy mills.”  However, I suspect those who voted against Proposition B may not be evil puppy haters, but rather, fellow puppy lovers who have some of the same concerns as the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA)  and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The MVMA would like “adequate funding for more inspections and better enforcement” and expressed concern that the proposition does not take into account existing law. (1)

The AVMA stated that the “ballot initiatives are poorly designed for addressing complex issues (e.g., setting animal care standards) in that they are narrow in their mechanism of effect, limit the amount and detail of information that can be provided to the public and offer minimal opportunities for expert input.” (2)

I do not wish to take on the MVMA or the AVMA, both of which I highly respect and both of which contain a far greater collective veterinary brain mass than I.  However, after careful thought, I am sticking with my first reaction:  Missouri’s acceptance of Proposition B is a step in the right direction.

If the citizens of Missouri are creating and passing protective legislation for the dogs of their state, obviously they are NOT “The Puppy Mill State.”  They are “The State That Would Shut Down Businesses That Refuse to Treat Dogs Humanely.”

This issue hits close to home.  We are near Missouri geographically, but more importantly, Nebraska too is known as a puppy mill state. What infuriates me is that there is still such a high demand for puppy mill puppies, commonly sold at pet stores and over the internet.*

I do not think Missouri’s Proposition B will provide the legislative teeth to shut down puppy mills.  I DO believe it will prick the consciouses of those who are enabling puppy mills to continue to exist and thrive.

Inspectors and legislation and funding play a vital role in the eradication of puppy mills, but it is a maintenance role – not allowing a bad situation to become worse.  If we want puppy mills to disappear all together, we need to shift the demand in a direction I believe it is already headed.  If potential pet owners would adopt their pets solely from shelters, rescues and reputable breeders, puppy mills would not have a market, and would be forced to shut down. I believe THIS will occur long before they are legislated out of existence, or shut down because of a collective personal moral crisis on the part of all puppy mill owners.

I’m always one for the simple (but usually difficult) answer.  Take away their market and puppy mills will cease to exist! If you are better than I at getting into the details of a situation, read these excellent offerings from AVMA on the issue of Missouri’s Proposition B and their recommended wording of puppy mill legislation.



*Puppy mill puppies are often bought by SOME pet stores and sold to consumers.  Please do not confuse this practice with the super awesome practice of loaning space to adoption and rescue groups in order to provide more exposure to adoptable pets.  If in doubt, look for signs or ask store employees where pets are from.  Reputable Pet Savers will be proud to tell you.


Pugs and Paw Care

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Originally Written for Pug Partners of Nebraska – Please visit their website to find out how you can help Pugs!

Interdigital cysts can be a problem for any dog, but Pugs may be more disposed to them, and dogs who have spent time on wire grating often develop interdigital cysts secondary to the irritation caused by the wiring. Broken toes are another risk of living on wire flooring.

Wire grating is NEVER an appropriate substrate for sensitive pet paws, but is often used in puppy mill situations to fit too many dogs into too small of an area. It is illegal as a flooring material for pets in many communities, including Omaha.

Sometimes interdigital cysts will occur without prior foot trauma, and sometimes they will mimic other diseases, such as tumors or foreign bodies in the foot. If a “cyst” seems to be growing or is not healing, have it checked by your veterinarian.

Many times interdigital cysts will resolve without treatment. Make sure your Pug is not uncomfortable or favoring one paw over the others. If all else seems well, keep an eye on your Pug and call your veterinarian at the first sign of the problem worsening.

Watch for discomfort, discharge, enlargement of the cyst and failure to resolve in ten to fourteen days. Your veterinarian may remove or lance the cyst and/or prescribe antibiotics or foot soaks.  He or she will also rule out other causes of swelling between the toes, so be sure to have your Pug seen if the problem does not resolve or if it worsens.

Stephanie Alford’s Typhoon