Miami-area makes headlines with HSUS's first class-action lawsuit against a puppy mill purveyor
I’ve written about this so often it’s getting downright embarrassing. But this issue is so gloriously fraught with emotional material—for thousands of ill-bred pups, for their defrauded and distraught owners and for the vets that see more fallout from their sale than most anyone else. Unfortunately, I’ll not stop writing about it anytime soon—not so long as it keeps happening.
The Miami area is ranked number two by the HSUS (on a list of 25 major metropolitan areas) for its number of “puppy-in-the-window” purveyors. It’s a dubious distinction, at best, and, IMHO, points to the ignorance in the local market when it comes to purchasing pets. Everyone else in the US seems to know better—that pet retailers aren’t your best bet for a sound pup from a reputable source. Yet even my well-educated clients are often duped by online sales from “breeders” or taken in by plaintive-looking pups in store windows.
Part of it is that we have so many retailers down here. The warm weather does wonders for year-round breeding and the constant backyard-bred supply of pups [offered often, but by no means exclusively] from a culturally-distinct breed of supplier.
Let’s be honest, the average Latin-American experience with pets is far different from our own (I’m a Spanish-speaking Cuban-American so I think I get more of a pass on that statement). Consequently, Miami is replete with people who see pets more as commodities and showpieces than as family-members. It’s a challenge for vets here, as you might imagine.
Still, there’s a seemingly endless stream of vets willing to support this industry. Health certificates are a dime a dozen and the lifeblood of many a vet’s practice. Even “fancy” vets with high-end clients partake in this behavior. One well-know chain of high-priced practices supplies an overwhelming percentage of the health certificates granted to places like the Wizard of Claws, the HSUS’s target of a class-action lawsuit against a puppy mill-supplied retailer.
The first of its kind in the HSUS’s 53 years (for its class-action status) but by no means the first lawsuit leveled against a puppy mill-maintained producer, this legal action seeks to effectively close down the establishment in question. And it’s not even Miami-area owners that are most affected. This outlet boasts online sales in the thousands every year. In fact, that’s now their primary source of income, to the tune of fancy digs festooned with hardwood appointments and leather furnishings. They know how to turn a buck with a prospective purchaser’s search for quality in mind.
High-priced accoutrements notwithstanding, this retailer understands the economics of this pet-sale game. Buy low, sell high, is the mantra. Source your breeders for the price they’ll accept and base your decisions on the obviously bright-eyed pups that come into your field of vision. Send back the rest.
Never mind that even the visibly robust carry genetic traits most owners would rather do without—hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, liver shunts, hypoplastic tracheas, immonodeficiencies and other genetic niceties (not to mention the diseases they pick up while in-house and which get explained away at the time of sale).
It’s a travesty—and a de rigeur occurrence by design. It seems obvious that lawsuits of this variety might be the wave of the future for ending such practices and killing the business of raising pets for these kinds of profits.
I’d never begrudge the serious, respectable, health-driven breeder his due, financial or otherwise, but this is not exactly who we’re talking about, is it? Making money on well-bred pets is not the problem. Raising pets in agricultural conditions with little of the oversight our food-producers require is what I react to.
When it has to come down to legal means based on commercial principles alone (fraud versus animal cruelty, as in this situation), that’s when we know there are other measures needed, which should be legally mandated, to protect our pets.