Why you should think twice about buying a cute poodle

You’re at the pet shop, and the cute, tiny poodle puppy is looking at you with forlorn eyes. Or maybe it’s a fluffy pomeranian that’s won your heart. Either way, your decision is cemented; you’re bringing the fur baby home.

Most Singaporeans would not stop to ask the pet shop where the dog is from. There’s a pretty good chance that the pup was bred in a puppy mill.

If you don’t know what a puppy mill is, it’s essentially a farm where your cute dogs are bred- in absolutely deplorable conditions, without regard for health of cleanliness. It’s borderline (some would say absolutely) inhumane.

In Singapore, most puppy farms are located in areas such as Pasir Ris. Among them, 32 are registered with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Horrible conditions at puppy mills

However, in 2010, the horrible conditions at one of the farms came to light. The dogs were kept in cramped, filthy cages. Many had health problems such as skin issues or ticks, and had to be treated immediately. Some dogs died despite the rescuers’ efforts.

In 2016, a surprise inspection by the AVA found dogs kept in squalid conditions at Top Breed Pet Farm. The dogs that were ill were not separated from the healthy ones; furthermore, they were not given adequate medical attention. The owner was disqualified from running any more establishments and slapped with a hefty fine of $180,000 for neglecting the welfare of his 180 dogs.

Top Breed Pet Farm in Singapore. Photo: AVA

Many dogs are used as puppy factories, forced to give birth over and over again to produce the cute puppies we so love. It is an unethical practice as the dogs are seldom given time to recover before mothering another litter.

The profit-driven nature of the business gives puppy mill owners little incentive to properly care for the dogs.

This is Rosemary, a Pomeranian who was exploited for breeding. Read more about her story here. Photo: Ella Sherman

Adopt, don’t shop

Instead, you should consider adopting. Singapore has many, many shelter dogs that need a loving home.

By buying from pet shops, you are supporting these puppy mills and their inhumane practices. They cater to demand, so as long as it is there, they will keep churning out puppies.

There are some pretty unfair stereotypes placed upon adopting rescue dogs, such as perceived aggravated behavioural and health issues.

However, studies have shown that dogs from puppy mills display distressing behavioural and emotional problems, compared to dogs from more humane sources. They are also more aggressive towards their owners, people around them, and other dogs.

Furthermore, given the depressing conditions at puppy mills, such dogs may also be victim to health complications that arise from being raised in such an environment. According to CNN, hip x-rays, blood tests and eye certification cost money and are conveniently ignored by breeders keen to avoid any expenses and only make profits.

Moreover, with adoption, you can BOTH save money and give a dog a loving home that he needs. There are numerous shelters in Singapore, such as SPCA, ASD, Animal Lovers League, and Causes for Animals.

“Adopting is cheaper and sometimes don’t cost a single cent, but it does not mean that you are not getting a quality animal in terms of loyalty, companionship, intelligence.” 

Executive officer of SPCA Singapore, Deirdre Moss

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