GUEST COLUMN: Online puppy purchases pose problem

Pam Chin

As many as 85% of the puppies sold on classified sites like Kijiji and Craigslist came from puppy mills and backyard breeders, according to a 2012 study by The International Fund for Animal Welfare.

A more conservative estimate might be 60-65%.

Although none of these classified sites purposely try to aid puppy mills and backyard breeders, they have created an environment that facilitates unethical practices.

It’s estimated that since classifieds have allowed pet sales the puppy/dog trade has increased 300% in North America.

The result is overpopulation and the euthanizing of four-to-six million healthy dogs annually, most under the age of two.

This is vile and inhumane and the cost to house, feed and ultimately euthanize is outrageous. Because puppy mills and backyard-breeders have found an easier way to sell, commercial breeding has skyrocketed.

So-called “urban mills” are epidemic, with people breeding dogs in basements, garages, dining rooms and even spare bedrooms.

Four dogs will fit into a two-foot by three-foot pen, which can be stacked almost anywhere. Easy money, no taxes, very little overhead.

Online animal sellers are not subject to regulation: no licensing, no inspections. It’s a relatively safe way to hide skeletons while preying on unwitting animal lovers. To stay off the grid, such breeders don’t take dogs to veterinarians. They inbreed mother to son, and brother to sister, and many puppies are born deathly ill with genetic defects.

Many people aren’t aware of puppy mills, and some even deny their existence. But denying it doesn’t make it less real or less dangerous for unsuspecting buyers, or lessen the suffering of mill dogs.

If you buy a puppy on a classified site there is a good chance it will be sick, genetically unsound and poorly cared for, a dog that will cost you a fortune in vet bills down the road. You may also unknowingly be supporting puppy mills.

Don’t let a pretty webpage fool you into thinking a breeder is reputable. Webpages can go up in 30 minutes and disappear even quicker. The breeder’s phone number can evaporate as fast as a “burner phone” can be thrown away.

Many classified ads are posted by puppy mill brokers and when the litters are gone so is the webpage and phone number. Other ads are placed by “host families” who work for the broker and pretend to be the breeders.

There are many red flags, and if you are aware you can protect yourself from unethical breeders and puppy scammers.

To learn more, visit http://puppymillsbreedmisery.com

Pam Chin is a Camlachie-based animal advocate and founder of the Facebook Group Kijiji Stop Selling Puppies.