Iowa Puppy mills are a legal grey area

Any dog lover has probably heard the term puppy mill, but what exactly does that mean? Cathy Erickson, the director of the Iowa Pet Expo walks us through the definition: a puppy mill is an establishment that breeds puppies for sale, typically on an intensive basis and in conditions regarded as inhumane. Iowa puppy mills are a big problem. The state is number one in the country at prosecuting puppy mills but also sits pretty high on the number of puppy mills in the state. Why? Legislation.

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Cathy Erickson on Puppy Mills Across Iowa

Cathy Erickson of the Iowa Pet Expo
Cathy Erickson, Iowa Pet Expo Director

There is massive pushback from the agricultural community, a fear that livestock is going to be held to the same standard as companion animals. For any animal lover, it is well-known livestock like hogs and cattle are comfortable in outdoor conditions not suitable for domesticated animals like dogs and cats. But agriculture companies continue to push back against legislation they believe is written in such a way that could be later applied to livestock. Erickson says it’s unclear why such concern exists, but the result is a lack of clarity and enforcement that would crack down on puppy mills. That doesn’t mean puppy mills can get away with unethical practices, however.

How to Spot a Puppy Mill

There are straightforward methods any Iowan and prospective dog owner can utilize to prevent adopting from a puppy mill. First and foremost, you can start by looking at animal shelters. If you are looking for a specific breed, contact your local shelter, and they will get in touch with you if they happen to rescue the breed you want. 

Signs of a Reputable Iowa Dog Breeder

Second, Erickson said when looking for quality breeders they do things differently. They will have a list of people looking for a dog before they breed, and will often make the potential buyer sign a contract to return the dog if you are no longer capable of taking care of the dog. It is essential they know the dog is going to a good home and will be taken care of. 

When working with a reputable breeder, you will be allowed to see the mother and pick out your own puppy. Most importantly, stay updated from birth to the time you are allowed to pick up the dog. A puppy mill will not let you see anything behind the scenes. A good rule of thumb, if it feels a little shady, it probably is a little shady.

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Effects of COVID-19 on Animal Shelters and Companion Pets

During COVID Iowa saw an increase in dog adoption and empty pet rescue facilities. But now we are seeing less dogs being adopted and more being returned. Adopters didn’t account for the fact that eventually they would return to work. Therefore, leading to leaving the animal home alone for 8-9 hours at a time. This can cause behavior issues in any animal. What can you do to prevent this? 

Educate yourself, use the internet to find reputable breeders and non-kill shelters. Stand up and speak for our companions that do not have a voice themselves. Make sure to check out the Great Iowa Pet Expo which happens every year!

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Iowa Pet Expo Info

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