|issue > inhumane dog and cat breeding
Minnesota is among the top producers of puppies in the United States. Kittens, too, are mass-produced in Minnesota.
Due to no master list of all commercial dog and cat breeders in Minnesota, it is difficult to report the total number of breeding facilities in Minnesota — however, it is fair to say that breeding facilities are located throughout the State and vary considerably in size and conditions.
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Reputable dog and cat breeders care and invest in each animal's well-being.
By contrast, problematic breeding facilities (defined as substandard, negligent or horrific) create environmental conditions and breeding practices that result in physical and psychological harm and suffering to animals.
Problematic breeding facilities view dogs and cats as ‘products’ to be mass produced for profit. Breeding is defined as a business. The more puppies and kittens produced, the greater the sales. Therefore, for these type of facilities, quantity of dogs and cats is the goal — not quality or health of each animal’s life.
As this is a primary source of income for these breeding facilities, they and their supporters consider this form of breeding to be “free enterprise” or “making a fair living.” Puppies and kittens are commodities to be sold to pet stores or other companies (via brokers) or directly to consumers from the Internet or through classified ads.
To produce as many litters as possible, adult breeding dogs or cats are bred continuously. While reputable breeders will stop breeding their females at a young age, problematic breeders will continue to breed the females at an older age — at 6, 8 or even ten years or more. The adults (males included) will often be confined in pens or cages their entire lives until their bodies are of no more "production" use. The breeding animal is then killed, sold at auction or retired (e.g., kept within the facility, sold at discounted prices or given to rescue groups). Some of these animals are in-bred, passing on genetic diseases. (If the older, breeding dogs/cats are given to rescue groups, these groups assume the cost of care for these elderly animals, many of whom have higher medical expenses.)
To maximize sales and profits, corners are also cut in operations, such as providing minimal veterinarian care, poor quality or limited food and water, poor shelters (i.e., no or improper ventilation, lighting, and temperature control from the heat and cold), overcrowding in cages/pens, and no or limited grooming resulting in skin sores, matted hair and other conditions. Sanitation is often poor (i.e., excessive feces and urine) with little or no pest and parasite control; this increases the spread of bacteria and disease, resulting in the animals becoming physically sick. (Animals could have infectious or zoonotic diseases which could be passed on to humans and other animals, if the animal is sold.) Even if sanitation standards are met, high volume breeding facilities ‘save money’ by hiring fewer employees, contributing to behavioral issues because the animals have limited or no positive human contact, exercise, socialization and enrichment for proper mental and emotional development.
Consumers are often unaware of these breeding conditions or physical and psychological health issues, and buy based on how “cute” the animal looks.
This is unregulated commerce, where, as with other unregulated industries, certain individuals and businesses act irresponsibly and are not held accountable. The unique difference with the dog and cat breeding industry is the fact that the 'product' is life, not an inanimate object.