Don't breed suffering

Puppy mills rank among the worst types of manufactured misery

It’s difficult to find the words to adequately describe the disgust we should all feel when animals are poorly taken care of, neglected or abused.

When it’s done on a mass scale, there simply are no words.

One such alleged instance is a reported “puppy mill” in Johnston, S.C., where authorities last month removed some 200 dogs, nine horses and 40 birds that were living in conditions that officials called “deplorable.” Dogs were living, and getting stuck and injured, in hutches lined with mesh, and officials say the smell of urine and feces was overwhelming. Injured and suffering animals were seen by vets and dispersed to various shelters.

The owner has been arrested and charged, and stands innocent before the eyes of the law. We’ll let the case work its way through the system.

But we can say that, in other cases of puppy mills, the profit motive seems to strip some people of their basic humanity.

The term “puppy mill” itself doesn’t quite cut it. We ought to call them “misery ranches,” for that’s what they really produce.

All of creation is a gift from God, but domesticated animals come with a special bow on them. They arrive at our feet as furry little packages of unconditional, undying love – the best sorts of companions you can dream of.

As happily incurable “dog people,” we’ll address that species specifically: Dogs are not only a reminder of God’s love, but a lesson for us all on how best to approach life and love. They live completely in the moment. They are unquestioning in their love and loyalty. They are unfailingly happy to see you – and 10 minutes away is rewarded with as much excitement as 10 days. They never ask for more than they truly need – well, maybe an extra walk or hug or treat – and they don’t need much. Just food, water, varying degrees of shelter and enough love to keep their reliable little hearts happy.

Those of us who get all that may be a special breed ourselves. And for anyone to cynically prey upon our love for animals in order to make a buck is reprehensible.

To do so while at the same time neglecting and making animals suffer needlessly, particularly en masse, is – well, again, the words aren’t there. We checked.

If you don’t recognize that animals can suffer, and can do so at your hands; if you aren’t organizationally or emotionally capable of properly caring for other sentient beings; if you’re just in it for the money – then please: run, don’t walk, from any temptation to raise animals.

There’s too much suffering in this world for you to be breeding more of it.

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