So you want to buy a puppy. But where do you go? There are different places to get a puppy. You can travel to different breeders homes to see puppies, or go on your computer to buy online, or visit a shelter, or go to your local pet shop. Lets discuss pet store puppies as a source. The puppies in the pet store look happy and healthy as they bounce around in their enclosures. But where do they come from? How are their parents treated? The Pet Store staff tells me they are from USDA Licensed Breeders. The Animal Rights activist say they come from puppy mills? Let’s take a look at the facts and decide for ourselves.
What exactly is a USDA Licensed Breeder? USDA is short for the United States Department of Agriculture. They are a branch of the federal government. They are in charge of many serious things that we take for granted. They are responsible for developing and executing federal government policy on farming, agriculture, forestry, and food. Basically they are in charge of regulating farms that grow crops and farms that raise animals, such as Dairy farms. They are responsible for live stock raised for meat and the entire process it goes through to our kitchen tables. USDA oversees and regulates many things in our daily lives, including dogs in USDA licensed Kennels.
This is a USDA Licensed kennel. This kennel is a class “A” breeder. As of 2015 there were 1581 licensed USDA breeders, including both class A and B licenses. USDA breeders are required to have regular, unannounced, surprise inspections, and can receive violations for things as simple as cobwebs, grass that has grown too high, and even small amounts of rust on fencing. USDA breeders are required to have exercise and enrichment programs which breeders call a “turn out yard”. A turn out yard is a large fenced in area for the dogs to run and play, no different than your backyard. The Breeder must maintain detailed records for each of their dogs and regular vet care, exams and vaccinations, which is all strictly enforced by the inspectors. The health care is so detailed that even teething cleaning is required. Most people don’t clean their dogs teeth, but a USDA breeder does!
The kennel is state of the art in both design and technology and the breeders years of dedication and knowledge of dogs and breeding ensure that the puppies are in good hands. When you walk through these kennels you really get to see the attention to detail the breeders put into the facility to make daily tasks easy and efficient. You see automatic feeders mounted to the indoor runs, giving the dogs access to food 24/7. Water is provided in such a way that the dogs and the breeder never have to worry as water is delivered thru a spigot, similar to a water fountain, providing fresh water 24/7. Potty breaks for the dogs are not a problem since they simply walk through a doggy door to their safe, secure, outdoor area. The outdoor area provides extra space for when the dog feels like running around, laying out in the sun, playing, as well having a 24/7 bathroom.
The USDA regulates the high and low temperatures of all indoor spaces where the dogs are. The temperature cannot drop below 45 degrees or exceed 85 degrees. The heating and cooling systems installed and all the technology to operate them are a sight to behold and something that many people have never seen or heard of. Many USDA licensed breeders are utilizing something called, radiant heat, which is an expensive heating system installed in the floor. Radiant heat is considered a superior heating system that is typically only found in very expensive homes. It provides a even heat throughout the kennel and although it is initially expensive to install, is very cost effective and efficient. The space needed to run the equipment for the heating and air cooling systems looks like a science experiment with all the units and wiring and pipes.
USDA breeders are always learning better ways to care for their dogs through educational seminars and from each other and doing things the right way takes dedication. Even simple things like skylights, drains, and even artificial turf are utilized at great cost to the breeder, to provide a better environment for the dogs that they love. The grooming rooms are fully equipped with the latest technology and bathing stations to make the dogs clean and happy.
USDA breeders cannot sell a puppy until it is weaned and a minimum of 8 weeks old. Once the puppy reaches 8 weeks, it can be transferred to a transport company, also known as a distributor. A distributor is also USDA licensed just like the breeder and must follow strict USDA regulations, be regularly inspected, and receive violations for any problems found by the inspector. The distributor is responsible for the care of the puppies for the next few days.
Upon arrival to the transport company’s USDA licensed kennel, the puppies are seen by a licensed veterinarian along with one to two vet techs helping. The Transporter Veterinarian will do a complete and thorough exam. They will examine every inch of the puppy and continue the record keeping. Although this is a licensed kennel, there are no dogs here, there are only puppies, and typically they are only here less than a week.
These USDA licensed distributors are a puppy lovers dream, you will see many different breeds, all being cared for by a professional staff. With Veterinarians, sometimes many veterinarians on the payroll, the standard of care easily equals or surpasses the care and love provided by the puppy’s breeder. These state of the art distributor kennels would put your local boarding kennel to shame by comparison. The facility will have large play areas, a grooming room with everything a dog groomer will ever need, and in-house veterinarian offices. These clean and well organized facilities ensure that the puppies are well cared for.
Once the puppies are cleared by a veterinarian for transport, the puppy is placed in a USDA licensed, regulated, and inspected transport vehicle that is really a mobile kennel, that is used to transport the puppies to the pet shop. These USDA licenses are called “T” licensees, meaning transport. These mobile kennels are equipped with on board heating and air conditioning to make the ride comfortable for both humans and puppies. The technology in the mobile kennel is similar to the ones in the Breeding kennel and brokers kennel. The mobile kennel will have automatic feeders and water’s and have a built in wash out, that washes all of the puppies messes into a onboard waste tank, so there is no smell and no mess. The mobile kennel is driven by a CDL licensed driver and a Vet tech is on board to provide everything the puppies need during their trip, which is basically 24/7 room service.
After being in the mobile kennel, they arrive to the pet shop. The pet shop is also licensed and inspected as well as heavily regulated. In fact, pet shop puppies are the most heavily regulated and transparent source of puppies in the country! When the puppies arrive, they are bathed and groomed and set up in their new temporary home in the pet shop. They are also examined by yet another licensed veterinarian before being offered for sale. Many states have puppy lemon laws that protect the consumer by providing health warrantees. Some state lemon laws require that the pet shop reimburse up to double the purchase price of any vet bills for a certain amount of time. Some states require that pet shops show the USDA records of the breeder and broker and provide a detailed health and history certificate for complete transparency. But even if a state doesn’t require the pet shop to show the USDA reports, they are available to the public online for free so its easy to research for yourself where the puppy came from. And searching for good breeders licensed through the USDA shouldn’t be hard because of the 1581 current USDA licensed breeders, 1253 have no violations! Also, 1494 out of the 1581 had only one small infraction or none at all! So what is so bad about a USDA breeder you ask? Well, Animal Rights groups like HSUS and PETA want total animal liberation from humans. This means no pets, no food, no saving species in need. They lump together all of the Unlicensed illegal breeders and hoarders with the small group of only 1581 licensed, law abiding breeders in the entire country so that they can claim there are THOUSANDS of breeders breeding puppy mill dogs. This is called misinformation, or a better word for it would be a lie. So USDA licensed breeders and licensed Pet shop owners are not the bad guys, they are your neighbors, a member of your church or synagogue, they are the mother and father of your child’s school friend, and your small local business. They are also the most heaviest regulated source of quality companion puppies that offer the ONLY fully transparent and government regulated provider of puppies available to the public today.