Over the last few weeks I have been following the Langley puppy mill story through what I consider a reliable source, our local news, as well as on a notso-reliable source, social media.
Social media is an interesting medium in the sense that people are unashamed to share their personal lives with the world. So when a discussion was posted about new B.C. regulations that would require animal breeders to be licensed by the province, I wasn't surprised to read people's comments defending how they acquired their dog, yet pointing fingers at the SPCA for not acting fast enough.
A comment regarding the definition of a puppy mill was especially interesting: "I found the breeder of my dog on Kijiji. I drove five hours to get my dog and upon meeting the breeder, found the dogs well cared for. She is a reputable breeder and assured me that she only bred her female dog twice a year. She can hardly be considered a puppy mill if she is only putting out two litters of puppies a year!" Ahem, dear one ... female dogs come into heat, which is a term used to describe their menstrual cycle, twice a year.
This means that a female dog can only produce two litters of puppies in a year. If a breeder is breeding her female every heat cycle (twice a year), she is a backyard breeder. Another term for this is a single breed puppy mill. A reputable breeder will not breed a female dog every heat cycle regardless of whether there is a waiting list for puppies.
Another post read: "We had tried to adopt a dog from local rescues but had been denied repeatedly. They made it so hard for us to adopt one of their dogs and we were made to feel like unfit dog owners, so we had no choice but to go online to find a puppy. We knew the moment we walked in the door by the smell and the barking that something wasn't right, but we didn't even think about reporting it because the breeders were so nice and we knew we would be giving this puppy a better life. Besides, we couldn't just leave it there!" Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard this. In defence of rescues, they kind of have a sixth sense for people who lack ethics when it comes to the well-being of dogs. It's unfortunate that some people fail to see the personal changes that need to take place before getting a dog and instead seek out an alternative source.
Finally, this one is closer to home: "We bought our puppy from the puppy mill in Langley. We had been looking for a long time for a particular breed. We knew it was a puppy mill; the smell was horrid and the dogs were barking. We didn't report it because we got the dog we wanted."
This person turned a blind eye, a deaf ear and a stale nose to the fact that dogs were in distress because they got what they wanted.
And that kind of sums it up, doesn't it? All of these people's excuses are that they got what they wanted. They are all happy with their dogs and could very well go the same route to acquire another dog in the future as they don't seem bothered by their choice.
So many fingers have been pointed at the SPCA for not acting fast enough and letting the dogs suffer for seven years, when in fact, the demand from the public is what kept the door open. I have no doubt that there were many more puppy purchasers who noticed the sorry conditions and also turned a blind eye because they got what they wanted.
Fortunately there was one person who made the right choice and gave enough evidence to the SPCA so that they could do their job. Would you?
Joan Klucha has been working with dogs for more than 15 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.