Dog Health Problems | My Puppy Mill Plea

Puppy Mill Dog Health Problems | boxer puppy with cleft palate | puppy mill puppy

Boxer Puppy Suffering From a Cleft Lip

As a veterinarian near Amish country PA, how can I better spread the word?

There are parts of the profession I have learned to accept, even though I disagree, but this one never gets any easier. It’s the family that comes in with a new puppy that they’ve just purchased from, guess where, a puppy mill.

Did you know that when the horrors of puppy mills made it to mainstream media, the sale of dogs from puppy mills actually increased because people wanted to rescue them? This just further encourages the industry, and is not the answer!

Unfortunately, we live very near Lancaster PA. When friends and family come to visit, they often want to take a day trip to see the picturesque barns and wooden fences of Amish country. But I refuse to accompany them; I know that inside those picturesque barns are thousands of crowded puppies matted in their own feces and urine, living in a squalor of filth. I will have nothing to do that could in any way be in support of their puppy mill practices.

Being so close to puppy mill country, I get to be “the bad guy” time and time again. Actually, as a veterinarian, I took an oath which requires me to educate these wide-eyed new puppy parents on all the genetic disorders that their newest family addition has. It is not an easy thing to do, to walk the line of educating them without offending them. I do believe some of these pet parents didn’t realize their mistake.

I can think of one particular little Yorkie Lucy that was so scarred from growing up in fear that she suffered from crazed aggression. Despite repeat visits to the University of Pennsylvania (quite the premier veterinary hospital, if you don’t know) to seek behavioral help, despite behavior-modifying drugs, despite herbs, despite her parent’s best efforts, it was still the veterinary behaviorist’s expert opinion to euthanize the dog because Lucy had actually become a danger and was attacking the children in the family repeatedly. After all modalities of treatment and therapy were exhausted, it came down to the end.

That was one of the most mixed-emotions euthanasias for me. I felt compassion for the family because they were devastated it had come to this, and I felt anger because it was not Lucy’s fault. I felt sadness that we were even in this situation at all, as it seems like such an obvious issue that it should not still exist. I have never seen a domesticated animal like Lucy. She was enraged, sick with aggression. I am convinced that her brain was mis-wired as a result of her genetics and her environment– the reckless puppy mill she came from.

Amish barn where puppies are raised with dog health problems

Pennsylvania's Amish Country is a major source of puppy mills

Puppies from puppy mills usually don’t have stories quite this dramatic and conflicting, however, they do usually suffer the countless myriad of diseases, conditions, and defects that come along with the background, both behavioral and medical.  The dog health problems can be numerous. They often end up causing much frustration to their families, require unusually extensive training efforts because of their lack of crucial socialization skills, and rack up abnormally high vet bills in attempts to alleviate these illnesses.  Even after all efforts made by the best owners who have purchased a puppy mill puppy, their lives may be drastically shortened by genetic conditions that cannot be treated medically.

As a veterinarian in this part of the country, how do you think I should properly educate these clients that are apparently living under rocks and don’t know that buying a puppy from puppy mills supports this despicable business? It’s in the movies, it’s on the news, it’s been blogged about tens of thousands of times, so what can we do to get out the message to more mainstream folks?

Think you are a puppy mill expert?  Check out our monthly puzzle contest designed to promote awareness to the public about puppy mills, not to just us pet people.  Click on the puzzle to enlarge it, and read the instructions.  Be sure to share with your less pet-obsessed people.  We all know the puppy mill message; let’s get it out to them!  One lucky person with the right answer will win a $50 gift card to PetSmart!

Thanks for all that you are doing today and everyday to promote & end puppy mill pet suffering,

Dr. Laci

Online Vet Signature Dr. Laci Schaible Online Vet Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM Helps with dog health problems

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October 15, 2010 at 18:46

Dr. Laci – I share your angst. I live near Lancaster also and feel so helpless about the puppy mill issue in our area. To help spread the word, I wrote a book called Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK! Happy Stories and Helpful Advice. It’s based on my years of experience as a dog trainer and pet behavior consultant, working with rescue organizations and people who have adopted mill survivors. The book is being called “the bible” for rehabilitating mill dogs. I am hoping that as word spreads about my book, more and more people will be educated about the horrors of puppy mills. The book can be ordered at

Thank you for being an advocate for the mill dogs.

Chris Shaughness

October 20, 2010 at 12:35

Thanks for all you do too Chris!

October 18, 2010 at 08:57

Is this WP theme premium or free ? Really nice!

October 22, 2010 at 18:44

We designed it. Glad you like it, thanks!

October 18, 2010 at 09:05

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October 21, 2010 at 16:54

Glad to know you like what you found! Hope we can be of help to you.

October 20, 2010 at 00:17

Laci, part of the problem with puppy mill dogs is that so very very few people understand what they’ve done. it’s pretty universally agreed that puppy mills are horrific – everyone takes one glance at the pictures of stacked crates dripping with years of feces, and the skinny overused breeder bitches, and the flea-etched studs and immediately decries that such a thing happens at all. but i truly believe that the lay public completely fails to link those awful puppy mill images with the (overly/neurotically) frisky 8 week old fuzzball gamboling in the mall pet store. until people believe that purchasing that little cutie next door to where you bought your new handbag is in fact an extremely bad idea, it will continue.

October 20, 2010 at 12:46

Most definitely Michelle, and well put. Just today someone messaged me about a puppy they wanted to get from a pet store, and I don’t think they liked my information, but they didn’t buy the puppy, so hey! Thanks for perusing the site!

October 21, 2010 at 15:55

Quite a smartly written post and reader comments here. I would point out that others have made a different viewpoint, especially in regards to dog training. Have you found additional viewpoints on the Internet, and will you point me in that direction?

October 22, 2010 at 18:46

I’m not sure I know what you mean Jesse. Could you clarify? Different viewpoints are always welcome! That’s what makes it interesting.

Big Dogs Rescue
October 22, 2010 at 06:20

Dr. Laci: I wonder what your feelings are on rescues that attend the auctions for puppy mill dogs in the midwest, purchase and then distribute in masse those rescued dogs to reputable organizations throughout the U.S. These organizations then begin the arduous journey to rehabilitation and placement. Part of our adoption process when working with these dogs is to inform potential adopters that these dogs and puppies may very well carry genetic disease and/or behavioral problems and lack of training. Health screening is a must along with alter and vaccinations. But I wonder sometimes if it is fair to the many animals in local shelter systems. Most of the rescued dogs are toy breeds. We rule out liver shunts, megaesophagus, grade 2 and above heart murmurs, grade 2 and above luxating patellas, juvenile cataracts. Those come to mind. Any other things we can easily find or should be on the look out for during health examinations? Thank you for your time.

October 22, 2010 at 18:54

Big Dogs,

That is wonderful that you are doing extensive screening. Hernias (umbilical and inguinal), retained deciduous teeth, hip dysplasia (a little harder, I know), inverted eyelids, and hemaphrodism (yep), cryptorchidism could be added to the list. Kennel cough, ear infections, resistant pneumonias, drug-resisntant coccidia, giardia, demodex, ascarids are a few of the most common and less fatal diseases I see from puppy mill pets.

Did you check out our puzzle on the homepage? I bet you would have fun doing it, as you know so many of these diseases! The winner of the contest gets a $50 PetSmart giftcard.

Thanks for the great comment!

October 26, 2010 at 21:21

love it!

November 16, 2010 at 11:18

I haven’t a bad word to say about it I can only admire this magnificent article. It’s very needed!

January 3, 2011 at 10:03

Happy new year :) Good article

January 4, 2011 at 11:34

Thanks Gregory! Happy New Year to you too.

August 29, 2011 at 05:46

I love how when I say “ay bay-bay”, my dog comes running to me!

October 20, 2010 at 12:30

Thanks so much!