Mabel the Rescue Dog

Encourage Dog Lovers to Adopt ๐Ÿ’•

Hi everyone, it’s Mabel! I haven’t posted about our fostering adventures in a while because there hasn’t been much to report. After Laris (fka Lady A) the German Shepherd got adopted, we took a break for about a month. Molly was out of town for a lot of weekends, so it didn’t seem logical to take on a new foster dog yet.

Our summer is continuing to be very eventful, so Molly was unsure if she’d have the time and energy to commit to a new foster dog, especially since she doesn’t always know how much work a dog will be before she takes them in. Yet, she still wanted to do her part to help. She volunteered in other ways, but she still longed for a foster. So, instead of a foster dog, she considered other foster animals.

And that’s how we ended up with four guinea pigs! At least, that’s what Molly says. She’s never let me see them because I have a high prey drive. Someone surrendered a LOT of guinea pigs to the rescue recently because they kept their male and female guinea pigs in the same enclosure, and before they knew it, they multiplied like crazy. (Apparently, guinea pigs can have up to five litters per year!)

One foster parent took almost all the guinea pigs and it was overwhelming, so Molly offered to take a few. She’s never cared for guinea pigs before, but she thought it would be fun to try at least once. She took two boys and two girls (in different pens, of course). Their names are Kix, Kashi, Trix, and Mini Wheat. As you might’ve guessed, all the guinea pigs have cereal-themed names.

Luckily, guinea pigs are pretty easy to care for, but Molly quickly learned that she would never want any of her own. She thinks they’re adorable and fun to watch, but they’re very messy. She said they poop about 100 times a day! They can be litter boxed trained, but these ones are only a few months old and haven’t fully figured it out yet.

Since they lived with a lot of guinea pigs before being rescued, they’re still pretty shy because they’re not used to being the center of attention. They love to eat vegetables out of Molly’s hand, but they always run away and hide if she tries to pick them up. They get more comfortable around her every day, but they’re still getting used to their foster home.

One of Molly’s favorite things about the guinea pigs is the sounds they make. When they hear her grab a bag of food, they all make a “wheeking” sound, which means they know there’s food. They aren’t afraid to come close to Molly if she has some tasty lettuce in her hands.

No one has shown interest in adopting them yet, but the adoption process is much easier than the one for dogs. So, hopefully someone will fall in love with them soon and give them a loving home. They’re social animals, so hopefully they’ll get to be adopted in pairs.

I wish Molly would let me see the guinea pigs, but she said I’d scare them if I stared at them all day. She also said that after this, she’ll probably stick to fostering dogs. But this is definitely a fun experience for her, and it’s an important reminder that dogs aren’t the only animals that need foster homes!

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2 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

Most pet parents have heard the sayings “Adopt, Don’t Shop” and “Adopt or Shop Responsibly” at some point in their lives. These words are often used as hashtags on social media, and they’re sayings that I strongly support. However, I recently learned that there’s some controversy around them.

“Adopt, Don’t Shop” is the more common of the two phrases, but some humans don’t like it. Some people believe it’s sending the wrong message and that’s why they use “Adopt or Shop Responsibly” instead. To us, the two phrases get the same message across, and I think both are equally great. Here’s why!

What “Adopt, Don’t Shop” Means to Us

Whenever Molly and I say, “Adopt, Don’t Shop,” we use it as a way to say “adoption is a priority.” To us, the phrase means that if you’re able, you should consider shelters and rescues above a breeder. There are so many dogs at risk of euthanasia, so we believe that it’s a good idea to meet rescue dogs first before encouraging breeders to bring more dogs into this world.

If adopting ends up not being the best choice for your family, it’s a little disappointing to us, but we don’t judge as long as you’re cautious and responsible when finding a breeder.

Why Do People Prefer “Adopt or Shop Responsibly”?

A lot of people mistake the phrase “Adopt, Don’t Shop” for “Adopt, Never Shop.” While some humans mean the latter, that’s not the saying. Like all phrases, it’s not always cut and dry, so it’s up to the person (or dog!) using it to decide what it means to them.

Even though we do think everyone should consider adoption first, we know that won’t always be the case. If no one went to breeders, some good breeds might go extinct. So, it’s okay for some people to go to reputable breeders, as long as they aren’t the significant majority. I once heard that if half of the people planning to go to breeders adopted instead, we wouldn’t have to euthanize dogs in shelters anymore, so that’s why we encourage adoption as a priority so much.

For those reasons, we don’t say “Adopt, Never Shop” because that wouldn’t be accurate to our beliefs. (Although you should never buy from breeders that get their puppies from puppy mills, such as puppy websites and puppy-selling stores).

Choose the Phrase That You’re Comfortable with!

To us, “Adopt, Don’t Shop” and “Adopt or Shop Responsibly” are just different wordings of the same message. So, we don’t care which one you use in your hashtags. Choose which one sounds better to you, and don’t let people criticize you for what you believe in. Humans who stand up for dogs in need are wonderful, so thank you to anyone that donates, volunteers, fosters, adopts, and advocates!

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7 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

Lately, Wisconsin has been having a lot of achievements when it comes to banning retail puppy sales. There are currently five cities in Wisconsin that have passed the humane pet store ordinance, and a sixth one is in the process. Molly recently attended a council meeting to support the ban on puppy sales in pet stores and to learn more information about these laws.

For those of you who don’t know, almost all puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. Breeders that care about their dogs want to ensure that the puppies in their care go to a good home, so they wouldn’t ship them off for a store to sell. So, by banning the retail sales of puppies, kittens, and rabbits, these mills lose some of their sources. Animal advocates will continue to fight until all cities have passed these laws.

Humans who know a lot about the puppy industry believe passing these ordinances is obvious. But not everyone cares about dogs as much as Molly and her fellow volunteers. So, Molly wanted me to discuss some of the misconceptions she’s heard recently relating to these humane pet store ordinances.

“This Will Harm Good Breeders”

The goal of this ordinance is not to harm dog breeders. It’s only targeting large-scale commercial breeders who put profit above everything else. Breeders who breed and raise a litter or two at a time in their own homes will not be penalized in any way. As I mentioned before, breeders who care about their dogs do not ship them off to pet stores, so prohibiting pet stores from selling puppies won’t stop good breeders from selling their dogs.

There are lots of options for buying dogs other than pet stores, including humane breeders, shelters, and rescues. These places won’t hand you a puppy the day of, but that’s a good thing. These other options want to ensure that the dogs in their care are going to suitable homes. Plus, getting a dog is a big decision that should never be an impulse buy, which is something that happens often at puppy stores.

“Some Pet Stores are Trying to Do the Right Thing”

More often than not, this is not true. Pet stores that only sell products are doing good things for pets, but those businesses won’t be harmed. If puppy stores were “trying to do the right thing,” they’d either stop selling puppies or find more humane sources to get them from, such as partnering with a rescue or breeding and raising a litter themselves. Selling dozens of puppy litters at a time isn’t humane.

Puppy stores like Petland often claim to be making improvements, but they have yet to show it. When a council member recently asked Petland for a list of breeders they use, they didn’t get a response. But research from Bailing Out Benji shows that some of Petland’s breeders are known puppy mills. So, “trying” to do the right thing isn’t good enough when dogs’ lives are at stake.

“My Puppy is From a Puppy Store and Healthy, so it Can’t Be That Bad”

Sadly, this is something Molly hears often when talking about puppy mills. Decisions shouldn’t be made only based on your personal dog. Of course, many of the puppies that come from pet stores are just fine, but many of them aren’t. Many of them suffer from long-term behavioral and medical issues, and some don’t even survive a week. Just because your pet store puppy seems perfect doesn’t mean there aren’t puppies suffering.

Also, it’s not just about the puppies. Even if all the puppies are healthy, the parents probably aren’t. Molly has seen many breeding dogs rescued from puppy mills, and they’re always in rough shape mentally and physically. So, I would hope that most people don’t think a “perfect” puppy is worth the suffering of the adult dogs who bred them.

“We Shouldn’t Control Who Sells Legal Products”

Molly heard someone compare selling puppies to other products like tobacco and alcohol. They argued that if something is legal, we shouldn’t be able to restrict people from selling it, regardless of how we feel about it. However, that argument is pretty flawed because not every place can sell things like alcohol, so why can’t we restrict certain places from selling puppies too?

Of course, dog lovers don’t see puppies as products, so it’s difficult to compare a living thing to other merchandise. But to the law, pets are still considered property, so that’s where the argument was likely coming from. I’m sure everyone that owns a dog knows that we’re family though!

Bulldog in pet store

“I Don’t Like Dogs, so This Doesn’t Matter to Me”

Not everyone is an animal person, and while I’ll never understand it, that’s okay. But just because you don’t want to be around dogs, cats, and rabbits doesn’t mean you should want them to suffer. If this issue doesn’t matter to someone on the council, then why would they vote against it? If it makes no difference to them, I hope they would do the right thing.

Yet, there are also ways to look at this without considering the innocent animals being harmed. Overall, puppy stores are bad for the community. They cause people to unknowingly support animal cruelty, and they cause lots of suffering for families when the puppies tragically pass away. Plus, many people are tricked into “leasing” or “financing” these puppies, which ends up costing them much more than the thousands of dollars they already paid.

“You Don’t Care About Any Pets Except Dogs, Cats, and Rabbits”

I can’t speak for all humans, but I know this isn’t true for Molly. Molly loves all pets, and she personally wouldn’t buy a pet from any pet store (yes, Wooper is a rescue!) But there’s a reason these ordinances are only focusing on dogs, cats, and rabbits. Of course, all pets can be overbred and mistreated, but no other animals are currently being mass-produced and shoved in tiny cages the way these critters are. If volunteers learn that any other pets are being treated similarly, they’ll likely add those animals to the ordinances.

“This Won’t Stop Puppy Mills”

I never thought this would be a reason for someone to not support the humane pet store ordinance. Sure, it doesn’t directly stop puppy mills, but there’s no way for one city to stop them completely. Yet, every city can make a dent. It might seem small at first, but without every dent, we won’t be able to stop them on a bigger scale. Sure, the pet stores planning to open in one city might just move to the next, but that’s why volunteers will keep working on one city after another until retail puppy sales are banned at all of them.

Banning puppy mills directly is very difficult. There are already breeder regulations in place, but they’re minimal and hard to enforce. Getting the government to change these laws will take a long time, and breeders will likely still find loopholes. Yet, if we cut off as many sources as possible for these puppy mills, it’ll be harder for them to operate. By passing these ordinances, they’ll hopefully have no pet stores to sell to in the near future. That’s why volunteers are focusing on stopping puppy stores instead of puppy mills directly. Plus, most puppy mills are from other states, so our state’s laws wouldn’t affect them.

“The Human Society Views Puppy Stores as Competition”

This is by far the most ridiculous opinion I’ve heard. Shelters and rescues do not view pet stores or breeders as competition. They don’t even view other organizations as competition. That’s because rescues and shelters want as many dogs to find homes as possible. So, when other organizations get dogs adopted, all shelters and rescues are happy for them. No one working in dog rescue is looking to gain money, but instead, they’re hoping to have as few dogs as possible looking for homes.

If a new puppy store opened, that would increase the number of pets entering rescues. There would be more breeding dogs abandoned by puppy mills and more families surrendering pet store puppies when they don’t turn out as “perfect” as they hoped. So, it would give shelters and rescues more dogs to find homes for and more work to do. Not because there’s competition but because more dogs would end up homeless.

These humane pet store ordinances are not about money. They’re not about shutting down good businesses and being afraid of “competition.” They’re about saving dogs. Hopefully, city council members everywhere can understand that so these ordinances can keep getting passed. The more cities that pass them, the fewer dogs have to suffer.

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3 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

Every time someone asks Molly how many dogs she’s fostered, she proudly says, “18!” By the time you read this post, it may be much higher than that because I know she’s not stopping there. She’s happy about the number of dogs she’s fostered because the higher that number is, the more dogs she has saved.

From the beginning, she’s been very fixated on fostering as many dogs as she can. She’s gone from one to another with sometimes less than a day in between. She even has a bulletin board on her wall that she hopes to one day fill as much as possible. But now, after a year and a half of fostering, she’s realizing that she has been putting too much pressure on the number of dogs.

The More Dogs in Foster Homes, the Better!

Of course, the more dogs that can be fostered, the better. Every time a human fosters a dog, they get that dog out of a shelter and free up room for more dogs to be saved. So, Molly has been taking in so many dogs because she wants to help as many dogs as she can. She’s been great at getting them adopted quickly and giving them lots of love, so she often feels obligated to take a foster whenever she is able to.

However, her fostering has gotten a little less frequent lately because it can be exhausting at times. She’s beginning to accept that it’s okay to take a break now and then. As important as saving dogs is, she’s not the only human in the world that can help out.

Yet, the Number of Dogs Isn’t All That Matters

It can be easy to get caught up in the number of dogs you foster. I’ve seen humans that have fostered hundreds of dogs, and that’s a lot of lives saved! I know Molly would feel really fulfilled if she could foster hundreds of dogs, but not if she has to sacrifice her sanity to get there.

Luckily, it’s not the number that matters. What matters is the lives that a foster parent changed. Our home is just a small time in a dog’s life, but it has such a huge impact on their future. Without Molly’s foster home, the dogs she cared for might not be in the loving homes they are today. Of course, the more dogs we take in, the more dogs that can find their happily ever after. But if Molly is overly stressed, it’s harder for her to find the perfect home for them and it’s harder to train them too.

So, while Molly’s goal is still to take in as many dogs as she can, she’s going to do it at a pace that makes sense for her. Sometimes we might have ten dogs in a row while other times we might take months in between each one. Either way, the happiness of the dogs in our care is what’s most important. No matter how many dogs we foster, we’ve still changed lots of lives.

German Shepherd and Shih Tzu

Find a Fostering Routine That Works for You

Fostering dogs isn’t easy. We’re not going to sugarcoat that. But it is a rewarding experience that every dog lover should try, even if it’s just once. However, to be a happy, successful foster parent, you need to find a routine that’s right for you. Choose foster dogs you can handle and don’t overwork yourself. There are plenty of ways to foster without being exhausted.

Every rescue and shelter operates differently, so if you’re ever unsure how the fostering process works, don’t hesitate to ask them! Almost every organization is happy to accept more foster parents. And if you have any questions about fostering in general, you can ask us too!

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Shih Tzu sitting on potty pad

Hi everyone, it’s Mabel! I’m excited to announce that my blog has been featured in an article on Rent.com. The article includes 15 tips for how to introduce a rescue dog to their new home.

Each tip is from a rescue dog blog like mine, so Molly has a quote featured in the post. It’s a great resource for any readers looking to add a new dog to their family.

Check it out here!:

https://www.rent.com/blog/introducing-a-new-dog-to-your-home/

3 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

For many humans, it’s difficult to understand the severity of puppy mills without seeing it firsthand. While I’ve never seen a puppy mill in real life, I’ve seen dogs that were rescued from them. Molly has fostered several dogs that came from bad breeding situations, and they’ve all had quirks and fears that most of our other foster dogs didn’t have.

Many people assume that all puppy mill dogs act the same, but we’ve learned that’s not the case. Some are more traumatized than others, but some just react to their trauma differently. So, if you’ve considered adopting or fostering a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill, here are some ways they might act.

Terrified of Everything

Many puppy mill survivors are terrified of the world. They’ve spent their whole life in a tiny cage without proper care, so everything new is scary to them. One of our foster dogs (Tuck) was like this. He spent most of his time with us in his crate because he was nervous to interact with the outside world. He slowly became more curious the longer we had him, but he’ll likely have some fears his whole life.

Distrusting of Humans

Some puppy mill survivors are curious of other dogs and new places, but humans are the one thing they avoid. Molly’s first dog Zoe was like this. She didn’t mind going for walks or seeing new places, but people approaching her was scary. These dogs can be the hardest to find homes for because most humans want a dog they can cuddle and play with. Over time, these dogs can learn to trust familiar humans, but they may always be wary of strangers.

Spooked Easily

Most dogs from puppy mills are at least a little skittish. They may run away when they hear loud sounds, see sudden movements, or think they’re going to be hit. This is often a result of unfamiliar sounds and movements being associated with something scary. Sadly, many dogs in puppy mills are physically abused in addition to being severely neglected. So, they may seem okay around you but still freak out if you raise your arm too quickly.

Indifferent of Everything

Not all puppy mill dogs act traumatized. We had one puppy mill foster that was indifferent to everything. She didn’t care if she was touched and she didn’t react to anything Molly would say, whether it was good or bad. It seemed like she had been in the puppy mill so long that she was desensitized to everything. While dogs like that aren’t as obviously hurt, their behaviors are just as heartbreaking. It also seems to make training and bonding with them a little more difficult.

Unsure How to Be a Dog

Nearly every dog with a traumatic past just needs to learn how to be a dog. Puppy mill survivors usually don’t know what toys, treats, walks, or love are. Yet, those things come naturally to most other dogs. Some dogs have been kept in a cage so long that they didn’t even know how to walk when they were rescued. So, when puppy mill rescues get adopted, they get to learn about all the fun parts of life that they never got the chance to witness before.

No matter how a puppy mill dog acts, it’s heartbreaking. I know a lot of these behaviors sound difficult to deal with, but if given the chance, these dogs can become loyal companions. They just need a lot of extra love and patience. So, if you have room in your home and your heart, consider adopting or fostering a puppy mill dog. It will change both of your lives!

And remember – please never buy puppies from pet stores or online retailers because you could be supporting a puppy mill without realizing it.

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4 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

Molly may not be a parent to any humans, but she knows that parents can be very influential to their kids. Of course, there are lots of opinions parents can have that may affect their child’s views of the world, but the one Molly wanted me to talk about is (as usual) dogs!

Most kids love dogs. That’s no secret. But over the years, Molly has learned that there’s a difference between the way most people love dogs verses the way she does. Most people just love the cuteness of dogs and don’t think much deeper than that while Molly is very focused on helping dogs in need and finding a way to make life better for as many dogs as possible. One of the reasons she has this passion for rescue dogs is because of her parents.

How One Event Created a Passion

When Molly was a kid, she always wanted a dog. She didn’t know anything about where dogs come from, so she would’ve been happy with any dog her parents gave her. But instead of surprising her with a puppy like many families do, her parents decided to pick out a rescue dog as a family. That’s how Molly ended up falling in love with a puppy mill survivor named Zoe.

12-year-old Molly with Zoe

That experience taught her the importance of making sure everyone in the family is prepared before getting a dog. It also taught her that not all dogs come from nice places, so adopting a rescue dog was the best way to go. That one event is likely what led her to being so passionate about dogs today. She writes about rescue dogs for a living and fosters dogs all because her parents showed her a responsible way to get a dog.

Molly’s parents aren’t crazy about dogs like she is. They weren’t super educated about getting a dog either, but they knew that getting a dog is a big decision. They also didn’t see why they should have someone breed more puppies for their daughter when there are already so many dogs looking for homes. At the time, they probably had no idea how much that common sense would affect Molly, but it’s a mindset I wish more humans had.

If Molly’s parents hadn’t taken those approaches when getting her a dog, her life could’ve turned out very differently. But I love how passionate my human is about helping dogs, and it’s a big part of who she is. So, I want this post to remind parents that getting a dog is a big part of a kid’s life, so please go about it in a responsible way.

Teaching Children About Dogs

Many children beg for dogs, but it’s important not to surprise them with a puppy or bring a dog home if you’re not ready. If you’re unsure how to teach your kids about dogs, take some time to do research first. Learn about the different options for where to get a dog and figure out how to involve the whole family. What you tell your children about the pet industry could affect their attitude toward animals in the future.

I’m not saying every kid will become obsessed with rescue dogs just because you adopt a dog in need. But teaching kids about rescue dogs and responsible pet ownership can have many positive effects even if dogs don’t become a focal point of your child’s life. Caring for dogs in need can help give kids empathy and a sense of passion. It can be an opportunity for them to have a strong opinion about something that can benefit the world. Humans who rescue dogs instead of buy them may grow up to be kinder and more empathetic. It’s never a guarantee, but it can’t hurt to show them that there are many dogs out there that need their support.

So, if you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, don’t rush it. Make sure the whole family is involved so your kids can learn more about dogs beyond just how cute they are. You never know how your opinions of animals could shape your child’s life.

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Hi everyone, it’s Mabel! I just wanted to share some information about our most recent foster dog (18th, to be exact.) I’m not a huge fan of her because I don’t usually like big dogs, but Molly seems to adore her. Her name is Lady A, and she was rescued from a breeding situation like several of our former fosters.

A few weeks ago, a German Shepherd breeder shut down nearby, and they had 80 dogs on their property. Yes, it was a puppy mill. The reason I know this is because no responsible breeder would have 80 dogs at once, and after meeting Lady A, it’s even clearer that these dogs weren’t treated right. The rescue we foster for took in quite a few of the German Shepherds, but Lady A is one of the oldest and most fearful of the group.

Lady A is about five years old, and sadly, she has no idea how to be a dog. She isn’t afraid to approach people, but she gets nervous very easily. She’s sensitive to loud sounds and sudden movements, so she spends a lot of time keeping to herself. In many ways, she’s an easy foster for Molly because she hasn’t had any accidents and she hasn’t made a sound.

However, there are a few aspects that make her a little more difficult, which could be why she isn’t adopted yet. Not only is she shy, but she’s hesitant of any place that’s unfamiliar. So, going outside and coming back in can sometimes be scary for her. Molly usually has to carry her back inside after she does her business (so Molly is getting quite the workout!) Lady A also hasn’t wanted to go on any walks yet. I’ve tried to tell her that there are lots of amazing smells on walks, but she doesn’t listen!

Like many of Molly’s foster dogs, Lady A needs a lot of patience, but with space and love, she’ll eventually come out of her shell. Even though I haven’t been the most welcoming dog toward her, I can tell she’s a sweet dog that wouldn’t hurt a fly. So, I’m sure she’ll find her forever home faster than we think.

If you’re currently looking to adopt a dog, please consider meeting some of the shy ones. Watching them open up to you and discover love are some of the most rewarding things you’ll ever experience!

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Hi everyone, it’s Mabel! I’m excited to tell you about our new foster dog because he hasn’t been bothering me, so he’s probably one of my favorites. His name is Mister P, and he’s our 17th foster. We think he’s a Dachshund mix.

We don’t know anything about Mister P’s history besides that he came from a southern shelter. At first, they thought he was about two years old, but now they think he’s closer to nine months old. So, he’s technically still a puppy, but he’s very mellow for his age.

Mister P is very scared of people. He spent his first day hiding in the corner of the house and refusing to come any closer to Molly. Luckily, he is potty trained and quiet, but he still has a lot of learning to do. Concepts like going for walks, cuddling, and playing with toys are still confusing to him.

Yet, after only a week at our house, he has come a long way. Even though he’s still hesitant to be pet or picked up, he likes to be near Molly. It seems like he enjoys her company, as long as she’s not too close. He even gets sad when she leaves or when he doesn’t know where she is.

This weekend, he had a huge milestone. He went for his first walk! The first few times Molly tried walking him on a leash, he just froze in place or pulled backwards. But after a few tries, he started walking with us. He’s still hesitant about it, and it’s unclear if he enjoys it like I do, but it was amazing progress for him. Walking on a leash might seem like a normal dog thing, but for shy dogs, normal dog things can be new and scary.

Luckily, Mister P doesn’t seem quite as shut down as some of our former fosters, such as Odin (fka Sonny) and Tuck. So, we’re hopeful that he’ll keep growing and find his forever home before we know it. He keeps to himself a lot, so I don’t mind having him around. Molly and I are excited to see how much more his personality grows!

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4.5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

Humans are more likely to trust people and businesses that are licensed. That’s why many people don’t think twice when buying from a “USDA-licensed” breeder. You would think that a licensed breeder would be the most reputable and humane, but sadly, that’s far from the case. We’ve recently realized that a USDA-licensed breeder is more of a red flag than anything else.

How Can a USDA License Be a Bad Thing?

Not all breeders need a USDA license, and the shocking reality is that the best ones are usually the ones that don’t have or need one. A USDA license is only required if the breeder has more than four female breeding dogs at once. Breeders who sell to pet stores and online retailers need this license too. If you know anything about the puppy industry, you might recognize that those requirements are also signs that a breeder is a puppy mill.

A good breeder only focuses on one breed at a time (maybe two in rare cases). They rarely have several breeding dogs because they care about the dogs they’re breeding and want to ensure that they’re as healthy and loved as possible. From what I’ve seen, a reputable breeder is in the business because they want to breed healthy purebred dogs, so they’re more interested in the dogs than the money. They don’t have puppies sitting around waiting to be sold. Instead, you’ll likely need to wait for a puppy to become available to you.

So, a breeder like the one I just described wouldn’t need a USDA license. The only breeders who need to obtain one are the ones breeding too many dogs at a time. Even at the minimum, four breeding dogs is a lot to handle once the puppies come along. It’s unlikely that those breeding dogs would get the same care and attention that they would if they were the only set of breeding dogs. These are aspects of buying a puppy that many humans don’t even consider. But they should because dogs’ lives are at stake.

What Defines a “Puppy Mill”?

Of course, a puppy mill will never admit that they’re a puppy mill. They’ll called themselves breeders just like any other dog breeder. While there’s not just one definition for a puppy mill, it’s usually described as a “high-volume breeding industry.” So, there’s a wide range of puppy mills, and some are much more horrific than others. But Molly normally labels a puppy mill as any breeding location where the dogs aren’t getting proper care.

Puppy mill breeders will try to convince you that their dogs are well cared for. Yet, if they have several breeding dogs on the property, it’s unlikely that those dogs are in the best shape. The more dogs they have breeding, the more corners they’re likely to cut. So, unless a breeder is very knowledgeable about the breed and only has one breeding female at a time, you should be cautious. A reputable breeder won’t be quick to breed their one dog over and over again either.

How Do Puppy Mills Get Licensed?

You might be wondering: “how are puppy mills getting licensed when they’re so horrible?” Honestly, this is a concept that I still don’t fully understand. The USDA needs to license these facilities because they’re considered a “wholesale operation.” So, they’re treated as a commercial business rather than a way to add a family member.

Sadly, the regulations for these businesses usually aren’t strict. There are no laws requiring dogs to be walked, played with, or loved. So, as long as the dogs get the bare minimum, even if it’s in a cage that’s barely big enough for them, it’s legal. In extreme cases, puppy mills will get violated, but it’s rare for their licenses to get suspended because of it. When a puppy mill gets shut down, that’s an extreme example of what they look like. But think about how many other puppy mills are getting away with their businesses just because they’re doing things in a slightly less awful way.

I will never understand why the restrictions for these businesses aren’t stricter. Yet, I’m even more disappointed that these places exist at all. The USDA wouldn’t need to be licensing breeders if there weren’t people mass-producing puppies.

It’s Safer to Adopt!

Every time Molly finds out more information about inhumane breeding businesses, I know it makes her more passionate about adopting and fostering. There are so many people who buy puppies without realizing they’re from a puppy mill. Of course, there are some humane breeders out there, but adopting is the only way to guarantee that you’re not accidentally supporting an animal abuser.

If you think you can’t get your dream dog from a rescue, think again! Rescues and shelters have a wide range of animals available, from puppies to seniors. Getting a new family member should never be rushed, so take your time and meet lots of dogs. Then, you can decide which one is best for your family. It might end up being one that you never expected!

After fostering so many dogs, we can confirm that every rescue dog is wonderful if you’re willing to give them a chance. Please avoid questionable “USDA-licensed” breeders so we can put an end to puppy mills once and for all!

*Featured in this post are photos of puppy mill survivors Molly has cared for. They all happen to be Maltese since that’s a high-demand breed. (Featured Image – Phoebe, our 15th foster dog hiding in the basement. First Image in Post – Tuck, our 7th foster dog on the day the rescue saved him. Last Image – Zoe, Molly’s childhood rescue dog.)

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