They're in the news a little less often these days (because people are finally doing something about it!) - places where people churn out hundreds and hundreds of puppies every year amid unspeakable filth, riddled with parasites and diseases, either packed into tiny cages so that they can't move, or roaming loose in enclosures to prey on each other and only the strongest survive - basically, they're unfed, uncleaned, and unloved.

Why would anyone in their right mind subject such loving animals as dogs, to such abusive conditions? That seems to be the main issue - these people AREN'T in their right mind! They want to see dollars in their pockets, not spent on their dogs, and the bottom line is all about the money to be made, not the tremendous outlay of money, time, work and love involved in properly caring for a clean and wholesome kennel full of happy, healthy dogs.

According to one resource we have, there are five basic types of dog breeders:

* Commercial Breeders
* Companion Animal Suppliers
* Backyard Breeders
* Fancy Breeders
* Puppy Mills

* Commercial breeders are in business to produce puppies for the pet store trade. Kennels may vary in size from only one or two females to more than 200 females. This isn't always bad, because regulations exist to govern this type of operation, and every breeder who sells directly to pet stores or to brokers is required to obtain a license from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). A number of states also require them to have kennel licenses. Regulations are in place regarding facility construction and maintenance, cleanliness, husbandry and the provision of veterinary care. Violations may result in civil or criminal sanctions such as fines and license revocation, or worse. All pet stores should require that their suppliers are in compliance with USDA regulations. Sadly, many do not.

* Companion animal suppliers - Brokers (wholesalers) usually obtain puppy litters from both commercial and non-commercial breeders for resale to pet stores, but these suppliers must be USDA licensed. Some states also require kennel licenses for wholesale companion animal suppliers.

* People occasionally involved in breeding are called backyard breeders - rather like the "shade-tree mechanic," who does not have his own shop but tinkers on vehicles for his friends. Many times, these are people who have an intact female who gets bred every time she comes in heat, by every loose dog who can get to her - "but we can always find homes for her puppies." This type of breeder can be a local source of pups for sale to pet stores, and can be found by responding to ads in the newspaper or tacked on the nearest telephone pole. Backyard breeders seldom utilize a veterinarian's services on a regular basis. Depending on the state and the number of females or puppies or total dogs involved, these breeders may be required to obtain state licenses. Exempted from AWA licensing are people keeping three or fewer breeding female dogs, and who only sell the puppies born and raised on their property.

* People who breed for the hobby and for show purposes, fancy breeders are proud of what they do, and of their dogs, and are usually against pet stores and commercial breeders. They do what they do because they love the breed and love their dogs. Once in a while, some will sell a less-than-show-quality puppy to a pet store, and some are willing to accept referrals, or even pay commissions to pet stores, upon the sale of one of their pups from a referral.

* The term "puppy mill" is often used by the general public to refer to ANY person or facility engaged in commercial breeding of puppies for the pet market. However, a true "puppy mill" is a substandard facility that fails to comply with even the minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act regulations and/or the applicable state regulations. These facilities normally ignore the basics of cleanliness, adequate facility construction and maintenance, veterinary care and humane handling and treatment of their animals. Many are unlicensed and will not allow you to tour their facility, for fear of being reported to the authorities and facing fines or imprisonment. Their puppies are not properly socialized with humans, and are frequently victimized by older, larger dogs (or by people), so that they cringe and cower in terror at the approach of either people or other animals. The vast majority of these puppies do not know anything of love and tenderness, but are treated very roughly, so that when they are finally purchased and taken into a home, they have no idea of how to relate to people and other animals in the home. They may have been weaned at too early an age, have not had the proper vaccinations, and are typically malnourished and sickly. These are a lot of the puppies bought who die young, or ultimately wind up in humane shelters because they become aggressive, or they cannot be house-trained by their owners. They have all the "baggage" of abused children put up for adoption, and the person who adopts has no knowledge of the pup's or child's horrible past.

So what can YOU do about puppy mills? Do NOT buy from pet stores! You can obtain your new little best friend from a reputable breeder - they do exist! Don't jump to the conclusion that every breeder runs a puppy mill, but also don't assume that they don't. Ask the breeder if you can tour their facility, and see for yourself where your pup came from, as well as how it was treated there. Is it a clean and pleasant place, and are the puppies confident, affectionate and happy?! Ask to see the pup's siblings, parents and grandparents - you can't do that at a pet store, where the pups may have been purchased through a broker from someone in another part of the country. Talk to your veterinarian, or the Better Business Bureau, and see who they recommend - or who they don't recommend. Talk to people who have a new puppy of the breed you want, ask where they got it, and whether they recommend the source or not. Sometimes, the State Veterinarian in your state will know of both good and bad breeders. Your state's Department of Agriculture, which enforces PACFA licensing (Pet Animal Care Facilities Act), is supposed to inspect licensed kennels at least annually, and if the breeder registers his or her dogs with the American Kennel Club, the AKC will also inspect the kennel annually.

It will do you no good to call up someone who advertises puppies for sale and ask, "Are you a puppy mill?" If they aren't, they will be insulted. If they are, do you honestly think they would say, "Well, yes, dear - and quite proud of it!" Instead, do your due diligence to find out more about the person and their facility BEFORE you buy from them, saving yourself untold expense and grief. If they have a website, read it carefully, as well as their guest-book entries. Ask their State Department of Agriculture inspector and the American Kennel Club about their inspection status. Google their name to see if other customers have posted comments about them on the Internet. See if they have many repeat customers. Examine the site to see if they offer AKC-registered dogs. True, registration only means that the dog's parents were registered, and the pups might have all sorts of genetic defects or not be true to their breed type, but the AKC does inspect and do random DNA testing (mostly for true familial relationships, to see if the breeder is truthful) on selected dogs from a kennel, and if there are gross signs of negligence or abuse, the inspector can contact the state USDA office and have the kennel shut down. Some other pet registration organizations are not as stringent as the AKC about such things as a dog's pedigree - they were designed to grant "registration" to any dog at all, even mixed-breeds, just so the owner could say his dog "has papers." Bottom line - it's about money again. They charge to register a dog with them, but the registration doesn't prove a thing, and may not be worth the paper it's printed on.

Please understand, that there are some despicable people who want to see ALL dog breeders eliminated (where do they think well-bred, happy dogs will come from then?), and will post false reports and reviews online, even though the breeder they're smearing is completely in compliance with USDA and AKC regulations. Sadly, stuff like that will haunt the Internet until the day it falls into disuse (if ever), and there's nothing the reputable breeder can do about getting it removed. Their only recourse is to produce the very best dogs they can, and let THEM testify to the breeder's competency and abilities.

At FlicKennel Dachshunds, everything we do revolves around our dogs. We are proud of them and of our kennel, and we invite you to come on up the mountain to visit and take one of our little friends home with you. We think you will gladly join the growing ranks of satisfied owners who have found the secret to having a happy purebred Miniature Dachshund - it comes from FlicKennel! Flickennel - Dachshunds with ALTITUDE!!!

You Can Help Stop Puppy Mills!

FLICKENNEL - Dachshunds with Altitude!!!