Dogs have the honor of being known as man’s best friend, but with that honor comes a twisted reality. With the popularity of dogs naturally comes a demand for adorable puppies to love and spoil. This desire has led to man manipulating these dogs to get their “ideal dog” through breeding. But when is enough really enough? This greed over puppies has resulted in the rise of puppy mills.
There, poor dogs are forced to call steel cages their homes, pumping out litter after litter like some puppy printing machine until the day they’re deemed useless. Irresponsible breeding and trading is just a few of the numerous stigmas attached to the pet industry. Unlocking the cage and uncovering the stories firsthand is the only way to get a true insight to the pain behind the puppy’s face.
Behind the bars
Irresponsible breeding and selling is rampant in the pet industry. How many times have we walked past a pet store selling gaunt, frail dogs in cramped cages? How many times have we simply offered a sympathetic remark then let the thought fade away once we’ve moved on? The stories we’ve gathered are from people who have seen these injustices, some of whom refused to move on, while some had no choice but to walk away.
Jade*, a volunteer at a shelter for cats and dogs, shares certain her insight after working with pets for six years. “People can be really picky about the kinds of dogs they want, and it’s usually these kinds of people that can afford to pay sort of a luxury for them,” she explained. “Certain breeds require a sort of combination, and so in mills, the dogs that are deemed fit tomix are forced to reproduce,” Jade says. She explains that these breeders don’t take the time to attend to the animal’s health; they don’t do the necessary research into responsible breeding. Their main goal is profit.
There is much that can go wrong with irresponsible breeding; most often, it is the dogs and their puppies who suffer the most. For Jade, irresponsible breeding is an evil and inconsiderate act towards the dogs. “It’s unethical to the highest degree. Putting two genetically incompatible dogs together is akin to incest. It’s unethical and could cause unhealthy offspring to be born.”
Opening the bars
For Casper (or Cash as his owner likes to call him) the little Chihuahua, the effects of coming from a backyard breeder who didn’t care about health or genes will last a lifetime. His owner recounted Cash’s backstory of how she rescued him from a backyard when he was six months old and weighed 1.8 kilograms. All skin and bones, that was Cash. His owner shared that she wants to give him a better life than the life he had in the puppy mill. The next part of Cash’s story took a sad turn. Just before his first birthday, little Casper was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease. With just a tinge of sadness and perhaps a little bit of anger, his owner recounts, “[His] vet told me that this could have been caused by…both parents [being] related or one of the parents [having] this disorder in which [they] should have not been used for breeding anymore.”
Another owner shared how she rescued her now beloved dog from the clutches of death. Aimlessly making her way through the crowded hallways of Cartimar (not far from our own campus), her attention was grabbed by the sight of a frail and weak puppy left alone on a monoblock chair. When she went to inquire about the puppy, the seller bluntly informed her that the little puppy had lost its appetite, but that the store “was still very much willing to sell him anyway for a very low price.” Our rescuer immediately understood the implications. The seller even referred to the puppy as a “disposable dog”—our rescuer knew he didn’t have much time left.
Cash, who is turning two years old in less than a month, is living a good life, is well-loved and taken care of by his owner and rescuer. His owner, with a positive outlook, wrapped up his story, saying, “Even though we have struggles with his condition, I feel that he is living a good quality of life in the best way I know how.”
Our “disposable dog” was given the shorter end of the stick but was given hope when his owner decided to take a chance on him. When disclosing her reasons for purchasing a sickly puppy with little to no chance of survival, she shared, “I had no plans whatsoever to come home with a dog but I could not leave him. So I decided to take a chance anyway.” For 400 pesos, the little puppy’s life was turned around. Today, the puppy is 4 years-old and healthier than expected.
This is not a touchy-feely story meant to make readers’ hearts melt, it is a reminder of the cruelty that animals undergo because of human greed and apathy. Not every dog or cat gets their happily ever after. One person painfully shares her experience in Tiendesitas, a place notorious for its substandard pet stores. She recollects the sight of the saleslady grabbing the puppy and holding it up by its fur, and she remembers the pain and regret of not being able to save him from a bleak future, “It looked so fragile and I just wish that I had money to buy him.”
Our best friends
The tragedies that befall some of the most faithful creatures to man shouldn’t be overlooked. Dogs are adorable, and we love to look at them or have them around, but people can forget that they’re not toys or mere playthings. Dogs are creatures that have lives and emotions of their own. Their lives aren’t meant to serve as fodder for our boredom, and we should consider the horrors they go through for our pleasure. No living being deserves to spend its life cooped up in a tight cage, lying in its own excrement, baked by the searing heat of our country.
Greed is a sin that is almost entirely exclusive to human nature, and in our greed, we’ve subjected innocent creatures to lives of misery. Puppy mills and irresponsible breeding are very real and continue to cause dogs to suffer even until today. It’s important that this reality is brought into the light in order for change to start. We love seeing videos of dogs happily interacting with humans, because it’s nice to know that man’s best friend really does love us. It’s only fair that we reciprocate that love back towards them.
*Names with asterisks are pseudonyms