Puppy Mill Auctions

Courtesy of The Citizens Against Puppy Mills 

You probably know about Ebay, car and livestock auctions—but another type of auction takes place nearly every weekend throughout the summer, and their existence usually comes as a shock to animal lovers. They’re similar to livestock auctions; animals are paraded in front of the audience, with the auctioneer’s voice blasting through the building as livestock are shuffled in and out, sold to the highest bidder for as much cash as possible. But in sale barns and kennels throughout the Midwest, thousands of companion animals are crossing the auction block each year. In 2007, more than eighteen thousand dogs were bought and sold this way.

Auctions are not attended by families looking for a new pet—they are all business from beginning to end. The purpose of these events is to have a venue for professional, commercial breeders (also known as puppy millers) to sell off their unwanted breeding dogs. The dogs bought and sold are not treated as pets; they are valued strictly for their capacity to make money. And make money they certainly do. Dog auctions are a multi-million dollar industry in the
U.S. The number of dog auctions in the U.S.
has jumped from twenty-eight to sixty-eight in the past seven years, while the number of dogs exchanged increased from just over 5,000 to just over 18,000.

Auctions are not a place for people who see dogs as pets. Auctioneers rattle off a dog’s qualities to attract bidders, shouting things like “this one’s in heat, she’s in heat folks!” or, “this is a young female—she’s ready to go to work for you” and “she’s pregnant, that’s money in the bank.” If shoppers in a pet store were to witness this, they’d most likely be confused. The same breeders that buy and sell dogs at auction are the ones filling pet stores with puppies; they bank on the fact that customers want cute, cuddly pets.

There is a serious disconnect here. The dogs bought and sold at auction are kept in cages for their entire breeding lives. They live in outbuildings and fields instead of homes; they never run in the grass, sleep in a bed or play with a toy. None of these things are required by the USDA, which regulates commercial breeders. But at the same time, the puppies from these canine “cash cows” are presented in pet stores as cuddly little companions, though their breeding parents will probably never live in a home.

Auctions are an upshot of the multi-million dollar pet trade in
, and while the demand for purebred and “designer” puppies remains high, people in the industry will rise to meet that demand. Better laws can help regulate the industry and make small steps toward better conditions for breeding animals, but ultimately, people need to know the truth about where pet store and Internet puppies come from, and to be given better alternatives for adding a new pet to the family.

Here is what you can do to help:

1.) Never, ever buy a puppy or other animal from a pet store or over the Internet.

2.) Wonderful, healthy, adoptable dogs, cats, birds and small animals are waiting for homes in every shelter in the country. In fact, 25% of the dogs found in shelters are purebreds. Visit your local shelter or rescue group when looking for a new pet, or search for adoptable pets online at Petfinder.com

3.) Don’t support businesses that fuel the pet trade industry. If you care about the issue, shop only in stores that don’t sell live animals. Be sure to tell the manager of the store why they're losing your business.

4.) Support legislation that regulates and reduces breeding of animals. Several websites are available to help people stay updated on legislation for all animal issues, including breeding:
- www.aldf.org
- www.saplonline.org

5) Be an advocate in your community. Tell your friends, families, and coworkers the truth about the pet trade and encourage them to explore other options.

Go inside the legal, but inhumane world of dog auctions. Rare footage from multiple dog auctions shows how dogs are treated and are passed around from one kennel to another, with no regard for their health or well-being, and certainly no regard for the emotional trauma they endure: 

Amish Dog Auctions

In Berlin, Ohio, if it weren't for the constant yelping of 313 dogs confined in stacked cages in a room closed off to the auction block, it may have appeared to an outsider as just another run-of-the-mill day at the Amish Flea Market. But the Buckeye Dog Auction has grown into anything but run-of-the-mill. Some breeds are able to fetch more than a few thousand dollars, while others can net hundreds of dollars for the seller. The auction and the success of local breeders has convinced others to forsake their farm livestock for canines. Apparently, there's more money in dogs than cattle.

Take Ervin Raber of Millersburg. Raber is the co-founder of the Buckeye Dog Auction. He also runs a large kennel with about 50 breeding females and 12 male studs. His operation has been inspected and even the president of the Holmes County Humane Society, Karole Butler, gave it high marks. Puppy millers, that's a big controversy going on right now, Raber said. I am currently the president of the Ohio Pro Dog Breeders Assn. and in our opinion there is no such thing as a puppy mill.

Raber said some of the opposition facing the dog breeding business comes from people who believe that every dog should be born in somebody's kitchen and raised in their backyard. The thing that they understand the least is that these kennel dogs were born and raised in a kennel environment, he said.

They have never been a house pet, so it's not stressful for them to be confined among 20 others and be used as breeding stock. Many local breeders look to the Buckeye Dog Auction as an opportunity to improve their stock and turn a quick profit.

These "dog farmers" sell 20,000 puppies a year to wholesalers for an average $223 a pup, government records show. And it's making some of these quaint farmers quite rich. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documents show that one Amish dog farmer sold 1,293 puppies last year for an estimated $290,000 though federal inspectors have cited his farm for numerous violations since 1992 including overcrowded cages and inadequate sanitation, pest control, feeding and watering of animals. Then these sickly, genetic nightmares are delivered to the upscale pet shops. They given them a bath and blow dry them and fluff them up and pray they don't die before they're sold, often for $1,000 or more each.

The auction house takes in a $10 registration fee for every dog to go on the block and a 10 percent commission on the sale. Raber said mixed breeds will sell for as little as $25 while a purebred female Cavalier King Charles Spaniel might sell for more than $5,000.

Raber said he tries to hold about 10 auctions per year. The auction group sponsor seminars for area breeders to learn how to improve kennel conditions and breed quality. One lecture featured a friend of Raber's who houses more than 2,000 dogs in his

Raber said he likes dealing with pet shop brokers. It's a cut and dry thing, he said. They give you a check and you never hear back from them.

Raber and his colleagues do fear backlash from animal rights groups. That's the reason I run the auction through a post office box in
Walnut Creek
. We actually get more e-mails from tourists who come and see signs and pet shops with the Amish puppies for sale.

Posted by the Best Friends Network Team

Click here to view A Puppy Mill Auction Investigation