Lawson: Eliminate puppy mills in Iowa


Andrew Clawson

Teddy, a five-month-old puppy, is soaked after going out in the snow on Feb. 26 at University Village.

Angelica Lawson

There is something so kind, sweet and genuine about puppies. They have those big eyes looking at you, saying take me home, love me, and I’ll love you. What does that stare mean when that puppy was born at a puppy mill?

A puppy mill is “an inhumane, commercial dog-breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits,” according to the Humane Society.

In 2015, Iowa made the Horrible 100 list. This list is made up of puppy mill operations in different states.

Each state is listed with known puppy mills in operation. The list contains the names of the business, its location and some have comments about the conditions in which dogs were found. The list shows 100 dealers from 16 states, and Iowa came in at No. 4. Since 2013 Iowa has been in the top 10 for highest number of discovered puppy mills on the Horrible 100 list.

The Horrible 100 list pinpointed 11 puppy mill breeders in Iowa for 2015. These 11 are not all of the puppy mill breeders in Iowa, but are 11 breeders that were identified by state inspectors as having inhumane living conditions for the animals and lack of health care for them. This means there are dozens more puppy mills in our state that breed animals selfishly and have not been caught.

The list states animals that have been chewed on by one another, that have open wounds or green mucus covering their eyes and mother dogs and their puppies that are in dirt holes with no protection from the elements.

The ASPCA estimates 10,000 puppy mills are currently in operation in the United States. One of the biggest problems with puppy mills is that the people who run them are breeding the dogs with no regard to genetic properties and only to turn a profit. Breeding closely within a dog’s family tree often results in horrible health side effects such as heart disease, blood disorders, respiratory disorders and many more.

In addition to physical issues, puppy mill dogs often come with a handful of mental issues. Since these animals are ripped away from their litter and mother after only a few weeks of life, they often suffer from anxiety, fear and other behavioral issues.

The only way we can bring this special type of cruelty to an end is to stop buying animals from breeders, which means more action must be taken to identify them. Private breeders and animal rescues are the way to go when you want make a furry addition to your family.

Numerous animals are needed rescued throughout Iowa and across the nation. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa, AHeinz57 and Last Hope Animal Rescue are just a few Iowa-based animal rescues that are always looking for loving homes for their rescued animals. Hundreds of rescues take place nationwide. You can find any type of dog that needs a good home if breed is important to you.

It’s time to evolve past puppy mills. There is no need for mass produced and unhealthy puppies. If adoption isn’t an option for you, look into your breeder. If the breeder is running a legitimate breeding business the animals will be healthy, well looked after, have visited the vet regularly. Respectable breeders will want to make sure their animals are going to good homes.

Adding a new pet to your family should not be taken lightly, and ensuring your new animal came from a humane environment is something Iowa needs to work on.