Puppies. They're cute. They're cuddly. Few moments are more exciting than the one when you bring a tiny, hyperactive bundle of warm joy home to your family for the first time.
Over the past decade, the public has increasingly transitioned from buying their dogs in person to buying them online. The doggie on their browser looks to be an adorable, tail-wagging, well-cared-for puppy.
And it couldn't be further from the truth.
A new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), How Much is that Doggie on my Browser? The Truth Behind Online Puppy Sales, reveals that the Internet can be a tool for exploiting dogs.
Internet marketplaces have become a major platform for commercial breeders to sell their puppies directly to the public, sight unseen and without regulation. While many people believe the puppies they purchase online are perfectly healthy, well-bred animals, the fact is, the majority of the hundreds of thousands of puppies advertised for sale over the Internet are from large-scale commercial dog breeding operations commonly known as "puppy mills."
At these facilities, dogs are faced with terrible atrocities. They are kept in cramped and unsanitary quarters, living in wire cages with wire flooring (their paws never touch the ground), without adequate food and water, no veterinary care and little or no human socialization. Female dogs are mated to produce litter after litter until they can no longer do so and are then killed. Because of their poor living conditions, dogs born in puppy mills often get sick and die after families bring them home.
It's devastating. Yet, profit-seeking, unscrupulous breeders are placing emphasis on quantity breeding over quality care, at the cost of the welfare of millions of innocent dogs.
It is essential that the public learn the truth. Dogs are not a commodity to be purchased from an anonymous seller online. They are living, breathing, thinking creatures that experience both happiness and suffering.
Each click to purchase a dog over the Internet builds incentive for puppy mill breeders to continue their operations. We need to eliminate the demand for these nefarious facilities.
If you are in the market for a new puppy, the best thing you can do is adopt or purchase from local animal shelters, rescue groups or breeders, where you can see firsthand the conditions in which the facility keeps the dogs. That is the only way to ensure that the puppy you bring home is coming from a reputable organization or breeder.
Online deals are great for electronics and clothing. But when it comes to a pet, the responsible thing to do is step away from the screen.
To view a copy of the report or learn more about IFAW's animal rescue and companion animals work, please visit IFAW.org.