You are on page 1of 11

Castro 1

Giovanni Castro
Lynda Haas
Writing 39C
August 19th, 2015
Canine Abuse: Puppy Mills Explained
It should not come as a surprise to see people abusing of animals in exchange for money.
Often times, people take a step beyond this reasoning and abuse animals for the mere
entertainment of observing pain. Either way, when this notion is applied to the creature people
refer to humans best-friend, it is controversial, and frankly utterly disgraceful, to watch 2
million (LCA) small defenseless newborn pups suffer both physically and mentally to such a
large extent. Bearing in mind that same newborn may never see life beyond the cage he or she
was born, the damage one creates from abuse leaves permanent scars in all parts of the dogs
body, including its mind. In this paper, I will illustrate the conditions set for puppy mills, and
briefly describe the type of person who run this business through research and development.
To fully appreciate this animal, one must philosophize it: dogs represent the specific
domesticated group of animals, namely pets. The attribution to their group implies that, often
times, they are confused to be submissive creatures living unconsciously. Some take a leap
further and assume they are merely possessions which would then suggest that dogs are
emotionless; they are some sort of friendly robot that eats and sleeps whenever its owner allows
to. This is not the case. Animal awareness is a growing study - Marc Bekoff, Professor of
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Colorado, Boulder, points out that it
originated from Darwins understanding of evolution in the 19th century from his work The
Origin of Species, 1859 (Bekoff) but canine appreciation was only given a large focus dating

Castro 2

back to approximately the 1950s when behavioral psychologists John Paul Scott and John Fuller
made groundbreaking research on dog behavior (Coppinger). Perhaps people merely lack
sufficient information that dogs present evidence that they are in fact beings that live beyond the
scope of instinct, and offer intriguing cognitive patterns that can be associated with humanbehavior. By mentioning this, I will address the idea that dogs, in response for being conscious
animals like humans, provide a strong correlation with their emotional side hence proving they
are socially active and to some extent intellects of their species.
The obvious issue with studying canine cognition is that dogs do not speak words. As
Marian Stamp Dawkins would say: Actions speak louder than words (Dawkins); this proverb
is what scientists and behavioral psychologists would solely base their studies when attempting
to acknowledge patterns in body-language like twisting their necks indicating they are confused,
barking and other physical gestures such as wagging their tail. To further back this claim, Dr.
Brian Hare, professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, and Vanessa Woods,
journalist, scientist and writer, mention how dogs frequently use visual signals to communicate
(Hare). There is therefore a possible establishment of a link between dogs basic knowledge,
from a humans perspective, and their emotion. As mentioned previously, the fundamental
understanding of animals, where these studies were given birth are all derived from Darwins
first observations and theories, yet the central and controlling thesis also shows that 100 years
later the species Canis Familiaris, latin for dogs, started to slowly develop studies as of 1950s.
As illustrated in Figure 1, it becomes clear that dogs have different levels or stages of
contemplation. All animals, including humans, have the first item within the animals nature; the
body naturally works in synchrony, which means if an animal feels an urge to eat,

Castro 3

sciously its body sends a message to the brain, which would then allow the animal to search for
food. The second item has more conscious thinking required by the animal: the hunting aspect is
more complex than eating because, in essence, the dog must initiate a search and use its senses to
its favor. Interestingly, the dog has such a powerful smell for hunting that research shows they
are superior to humans in detection of odorants (Greenberg). Nonetheless, the dog can
undergo even further complex thinking, which then develops more into emotions. As mentioned
above, disgust is a feeling that pertains to taste; in order for an animal to acknowledge taste, it
must be a conscious reaction of not desiring a particular thing, as in food, for example.
The informative pictorial image above was based on the article written by Stanley Coren,
who noted that there are certain emotions felt by humans that can be attributed to dogs. As he
mentions in his article, to understand what dogs feel look at research done on emotions of
humans (Coren). Dogs do have a direct manner of speech as humans do with verbal
communication - it is essentially human emotions that dogs portray. To some extent this might be
an unfair examination; however given the fact that humans consider dogs their best-friends, it
makes sense to associate dogs with these characteristics, since they socially accept and love

Castro 4

human-beings. It would not be the case of an alpha predator such as a lion, or a reptile, like a
snake, to collaborate with humans, even though they might have similar emotions. In the specific
case of the dog, Coren asserts that researchers have now come to believe that the mind of a dog
is roughly equivalent to that of a human (Psychology Today).
Now it is established that dogs have somewhat of a conscious, since it was stated they
have similar thoughts to that of a human. To take this notion and to amplify it to a global scale, in
2012, scientists agreed on The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. This is an important
fact that can now be ignored as an assumption when conducting the studies of cognition of
animals; as Marc Bekoff mentioned in his recently posted article: scientists presented evidence
that led to this self-obvious conclusion (Bekoff). It is important to note animal consciousness as
an argument to refute the confusion an average person might have of their dog, or of other dogs.
To oppose this fairly common view of dogs being dependent on humans, I would like to
direct to Alexandra Horowitz book, when she mentions dogs love is entwined with loyalty
(Horowitz). This idea is a very authoritative notion that goes to show that humans so selfishly
ignore a dogs loyalty and then associate it with dependence, or as Dr. James Serpell, Professor
of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania, in his studies
comments that families acquire a dog for the sole reason of pet deficit (Serpell). It is an
unfair balance in this dog-human relationship, since a dog has such strong devotion to love that it
basically fascinates itself on its owner. This not only proves my first part of the thesis, that dogs
have a conscious, but also they have feelings of emotion. Love is an immeasurable and
indescribable emotion that humans share amongst themselves on a daily basis, but it one of many
emotions that the complex human brain processes. Quickly glancing back to Figure 1, the
illustration proves that there are only a handful of emotions that a dog can have, and clearly, one

Castro 5

of them is love. After this brief referral, and turning towards Monique Udell, as she puts that
dogs appear to be sensitive to the attentional state of humans (Udell). This is a parallel theory
to that of dogs passion or love for the human-being, which finally lays out the key statement that
dogs are altruistic beings, making them socially acceptable for showing human emotions.
Then, it is upheld that it has become less of an assumption that dogs do in fact have a
conscious, given their intelligent cognitive patterning, which would then correspond to them
having emotions. Also greatly emphasize the fact that it is a presumption that dogs have similar
behavioral aspects to humans since, logically, to associate an animal with a conscious using
human emotions as a testing factor, if the test proved to have a positive match, then there must
exist a relationship between the two beings. However, more than just establishing a connection
between humans and animals, the fact the there is a minimal recognition of a dogs existence is a
breakthrough in the social acceptance of their species. Recent studies have shown that it is vital
to acknowledge that the father of animal evolution, Charles Darwin, back in the 1800s, already
established that dogs have emotions such as love, fear, shame and rage, as well as dreams,
and the ability to imitate and reason (Udell), proving that dogs are, to some extent, intellects to
their respective cognitive potential.
Not only is the quality of typical puppy mills shocking, but also the psychological factors
that allow a person proceed with this level of abuse is far more worrisome. It is vital to
comprehend the motive for why a person thinks along the lines of abuse, therefore the scientific
research of Animal Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders (2002) serves as proof to this specific
statistical analysis. Further enhancing my argument, canine abuse has been developing from an
earlier age, as the ASPCA article on Pit Bull Cruelty Facts and FAQs accordingly states that
there are some accounts of dog fights dating back to the 1750s (ASPCA). To contextualize

Castro 6

these dog fights: approximately 260 years ago, the bulldog breed was used to bait larger animals,
once the government banned baiting, these dog owners threw their bull dogs as gladiators and
watch which dog was the strongest. This idea goes to show that humans have a tendency to fulfill
their satisfaction usually by aggression, which unfortunately targets beings that are completely
My focus is nevertheless on puppy farms. There are several non-profit organizations that
attempt to battle against this crime of animal harassment. The approach they usually take is that
of precaution, meaning: they warn potential dog customers where to purchase a dog in order to
not stimulate puppy mills. Now, what exactly consists of a puppy mill? What makes this place be
considered a terrible environment for dogs? In an Australian discussion paper Puppy Farms
(2010) written by Heather Neil, CEO of RSPCA Australia, she provides photographs and very

clear descriptions of the state in

which dogs are raised Figure 2 shows a rough idea of the living-conditions. Life in cages leads
to problems associated with basic care, as she states: drinking water is often insufficient, and it
may also be contaminated (RSPCA). The consequences for providing this type of drinking
water are similar to when providing to an average human-being since it causes serious
gastrointestinal upsets (RSPCA) leading to diseases which, if not treated, may further result in
death. In addition, lacking quality in the supply of water is particularly disturbing to bitches:
since they feed their pups, more water is required, and given the high level of contamination,
both the mother and her pups are put into severe jeopardy. This is one of many different issues
directly linked with puppy mills. Even though this unregulated environment, what is worrying is

Castro 7

the mental state of the person who administers this business, since it directly affects the lives of
the pups in the mills.
This notion recalls the scientific paper mentioned previously produced by Roman
Gleyzer, MD, Alan R. Felthous, MD, and Charles E. Holzer III, PhD. As these three
professionals exploit the correlation between animal mistreatment and mental disorders, they
state that starting in 1987, this behavior [cruelty to animals] was a criterion for conduct
disorder and for APD [antisocial personality disorder] (Gleyzer, Felthous, Holzer). The link
between these two are abundantly strong, given that an average human being would perceive the
quality of a puppy farm as a clear indication of mistreatment. It calls to attention that those who
abuse are diagnosed with such disorders are also subject to possessing persecutory delusions
(Gleyzer, Felthous, Holzer), which
looking up the definition means
that the person is delusional of
thinking that it a harmful event will
eventually happen. If you take a
medical perspective, the action for
a person to abuse an animal may be
accounted for given the health state
of that person, but should that person be operating a business which involves lives of other
beings? It is simply unfair for the dogs under captivity to be mistreated by someone not able to
handle simple tasks in life. In my view, an average human being, a person who can function in
society, should reallocate the resources used in order to prevent abuse and create a healthy and
clean environment for these puppies.

Castro 8

Although puppy mill owners have their share of responsibility for the abuse of dogs, the
unfortunate truth that lied embedded within my arguments against this horror is that all of us dog
consumers are contributors. It is a profitable industry that deals with an exceedingly high valued
commodity. Dog lovers are definitely biased towards revoking the rights of having puppy mills.
Ironically, if that dog lover, who probably owns a dog, reflects on his prior acts, the dog owner
would probably not have bought his or her pup had it not been the puppy mill. As Mary-Jo
Dionne mentions in her article: in our obsession with having a purebred and having it quickly,
we feed the industry (Modern Dog Magazine). In basic economics terms, the demand is so high
that the quality of the good tends to fall, since production cannot be sustainable. Dogs are victims
regardless of the type of person who owns his rights. By mentioning this, think about the word
choice: owns his rights, industry, consumers, businesses et cetera; in this sense, all these
words already suggests that dogs are inevitable targets for abuse since a person is operating
within their rights to do whatever they please with their purchase.
Confusingly, government provisions for animal cruelty date back to the 1800s, when the
Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 was passed in the U.K. Parliament, implying that this notion was
spreading more than two-hundred years ago. More specifically to canine abuse, the Australian
government passed The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, dictating that observed
owners intend to provide minimum standards of accommodation care to dogs (Victoria
State Government). One might think there are worldwide regulations puppy mill owners and
other abusers are not following these norms, and consequently, they should be locked away.
However, the PETA NGO states, there such things called puppy pipelines, which basically
means that dealers who want to avoid relevant U.S. laws look elsewhere to continue doing
business, like for example smugglers who bring puppies into the U.S. from Mexico (PETA).

Castro 9

One can then conclude that there is seemingly no end for canine abuse. Morally correct or not,
the greatest issue of a capitalist society will always be money humans put their self-interest
before their empathy in all kinds of situations, but pertinent to the stimulation of puppy mills is
the quintessential example of such a claim.
To conclude: what specific courses of action can those concerned with the welfare of
vulnerable pups ponder to solve such a loose-ended issue of canine abuse? It was made explicitly
clear that their lives are in danger, due to the unregulated quality of puppy mills, the lack of
animal protection from those who are mentally challenged to sustain unaggressive acts and the
driving factor of money causing a stimulus to the market for contraband. There have been several
NGO initiatives that approach government officials with the intuition to put animal welfare in
their agenda.
Charities can solve social and environmental problems by posing moral concerns to
society; they receive donations, which is then applied to reduce or solve the issue. Since capital
is an issue preventing this market to shut down, the allocation of donations may be used to
provide shelter; this solution can be easily obtained by spreading the idea in social media
channels, like Facebook. The two great issues which are leading causes to puppy mills are:
poorly administered government regulations and insignificant financial compensation. Without
both, it the puppy mills will function normally without clandestine levels growing at an
exponential rate.

Castro 10

Works Cited
Puppy Mills: Dogs Abused for the Pet Trade. Web. 19. Jul. 2015.
Puppy farms. Web. 19. Jul. 2015.
Puppy Hell: The Horrors of Puppy Mills. Web. 17. Jul. 2015.
First came battery chickens. Now we have battery dogs. Web. 17. Jul. 2015.
Animal Cruelty and Psychiatric Disorders. Web. 16. Jul. 2015.
The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome. Web. 16. Jul. 2015. Pit Bull Cruelty Facts and
FAQs. Mon. 20. Jul. 2015.
Code Of Practice For The Private Keeping of Dogs. Web. 17. Jul. 2015.
Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. Web. 20. Jul. 2015.
Bekoff, Marc. The Cognitive Animal Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives on Animal
Cognition. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2002. Print.
Coppinger, Raymond, and Lorna Coppinger. Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine
Origin, Behavior, and Evolution. New York: Scribner, 2001. Print.
Dawkins, Marian Stamp. Why Animals Matter: Animal Consciousness, Animal Welfare, and
Human Well-being. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.

Castro 11

Hare, Brian, and Vanessa Woods. The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think.
Penguin, 2013. Print.
Horowitz, Alexandra. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. New York: Scribner,
2009. Print.
Coren, Stanley. "Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience?" Psychology Today. 13 Mar.
2013. Web. 2 Aug. 2015.
Bekoff, Marc. "Scientists Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings." Psychology
Today. 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 2 Aug. 2015.
Udell, Monique, and C.D.L Wynne. "A Review of Domestic Dogs' (Canis Familiaris) HumanLike Behaviors: Or Why Behavior Analysts Should Stop Worrying and Love Their Dogs."
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Society for the Experimental Analysis of
Behavior, Inc., 1 Mar. 2008. Web. 2 Aug. 2015.
Greenberg, Gary. "Dogs in Service to Humans." Comparative Psychology: A Handbook. New
York: Garland Pub., 1998. Print.
Serpell, James. "Dogs as Human Companions: A Review of the Relationship." The Domestic
Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour, and Interactions with People. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.