Does the End Really Justify The Means When it Comes to Puppy Mills?

by CarolineL on February 27, 2013 - 7:02pm

Animal mistreatment is somewhat of a subjective topic as situations that justify putting a human's well-being before that of an animal remain unclear and vary from person to person.  When it comes to puppy mills, the cruelty endured by the animals has the sole purpose of reducing the owner's expenses. Is this enough to justify the cruel way we are treating the animals found in these mills? In the articles "Curbing the Puppy Trade",  "Animals, Ethics and Public Policy" and "No pups for sale? Cities ban pet shops" we learn more about puppy mills and the ethics behind the exploitation of animals.

                In her article "Curbing the Puppy Trade" written for Time magazine, on December 4th 2005, Anita Hamilton describes the living conditions associated with the USA's puppy mills and their effect on dogs' physical and mental health.  She explains that puppy mills are large warehouse-type buildings where breeders mass-produce puppies in poor conditions. In order to generate the highest amount of profit at the lowest cost, the owners of these establishments often neglect the dogs by depriving them of basic human interaction, suitable housing as well as proper nutrition and health care. Over time, these types of living conditions cause a high number of behavioural problems and genetic defects such as overaggressive play, caused by a pre-mature separation of a pup and it's mother and hip dysplasia, caused by generations of over breeding. She gives the example of Raymon and Joyce Stoltzfus who, in May 2005, had to reimburse a total of 171 customers claiming that their newly-adopted pet suffered from things like pneumonia, kidney failure and heart problems caused by the conditions in which they, and the generations before them, had been raised.

                Robert Garner's  article "Animals, Ethics and Public Policies" published in the Political Quarterly of March of 2010, presents and critiques the typical position on the moral status of animals. This view argues that humans should not inflict unnecessary suffering onto animals, but, because man is superior, this suffering may be justified if it benefits us considerably.  He believes that this kind of thinking is what probably led to the high rates of animal exploitation happening in the West as everyone's view of "necessary and unnecessary" suffering is different. To some, saving a few dollars may be considered as equally necessary as saving a life.  This can be connected to puppy mills because the abuse breeding dogs endure in these institutions is most often justified by the money saved by the breeder . If we,  like Garner, believe that the boundary between harming animals in attempt to benefit mankind and mistreating them for nothing is unclear, then we believed this moral status is flawed and should be clarified.

                In "No pups for sale? Cities ban pet shops" written by Rebecca Dube for NBC news in May 2010, a solution to the current puppy mill issue is presented. Because it has been proven that pet stores encourage the puppy mill industry by being their main buyers, cities such as South Lake Tahoe Calif., and Albuquerque have banned the sales of cats and dogs in retail stores. This type of law forces people to save animals from shelters rather than purchasing them at pet shops. In the cities where this law has been passed, animal adoption has increased by 23 percent while euthanasia rates have decreased by 35 percent.

                Animal rights and ethics should be reinforced and clarified. We should determine what exactly justifies harming another living thing.  In my opinion, we have taken too much liberty when it comes to using animals to better our own quality of life. For animal testing, I believe it should only be done when the animals' lives are used to save an important number of human lives not for developing cosmetic products that simply fill the pockets of corporations. For puppy mills, I believe the mistreatment and neglect of pets is unfair because it doesn't benefit any man except the owner of the mill in question. In the end, I believe a life is a life. After all, If we start mistreating animals for the simple fact that we are considered superior to them, we may eventually move on to humans who we view as inferior.  



I like your idea of "a life is a life", we human is just another species on earth, we dont have the right to play the role of God... i think "respect" is the only attitude we should give to other anmals.

nice argument, big like.!

i wrote an article on similar topic, please go visit it if you are interesting.


I believe better living conditions need to be reinforced in the puppy mills. I think altogether it's wrong, but too many people buy into this corporation so it will be extremely hard to close them all down completely. The amount of times a dog gives birth, or the amount of puppies in one mill should be regulated. Also, the food, water and surroundings should be made fit for the animals. These regulations seem like more realistic changes that could come. Your last sentence really stood out to me, "[after] all, If we start mistreating animals for the simple fact that we are considered superior to them, we may eventually move on to humans who we view as inferior." I think that is the truth. The only reason we take advantage of everything we have is because we believe we're better and more powerful.  That sentence really ends the post with a bang!

I agree with what J-LEE wrote in her response that "too many people buy into this corporation so it will be extremely hard to close them all down completely." It's like expecting a corporation to shut down all sweat-shops because it is deemed morally right, when in reality all they have is the fundamental value of money.

I understand when you say that it may be right when "animal's lives are used to save an important number of human lives" and not for mediocre things (i.e. cosmetics). However, I think it's kind of contradicting your point that "a life is a life." If that were true then why not use human lives when testing diseases and cures FOR HUMANS, rather then animals? It's a good point you bring up, is it morally acceptable to take the life of an animal because we deem ourselves superior? And you somewhat answer that in your final sentence.

Interesting read.

I strongly agree with you that an animal’s life is worth just as much as a human’s. Why should humans be superior to any other living creature? The puppy mill situation is an abominable one that should not even exist! Perhaps if we closed pet shops there would be less puppy mills, but no one can know unless this is put in action. Moreover,  future pet owners could still get the animals in animal shelters or perhaps with breeders.

A truly moving article! But I guess coming from an animal that is no suprise. It sickens me what has been done to animals in the past and what is still people done. I can't even think of a single reason why it is acceptable to mistreat an animal. I feel a lot more for an abused dog, cat or any other animal for that matter, than I would for an abused human. Why? Animals can't talk and ask us for help, whereas a human can and has many resources to go to for help. Owners of puppy mills need to be more severly punished for what they have done and we need more resources in this sector. I am however very happy with the progress we have made in tracking down and shutting down puppy mills. To all those who read this, stay alert for abused animals in your neighborhood because unlike humans, they cannot ask for help.

I strongly agree with you comment "a life is a life" regardless of its nature it is still a living breathing creature. I understand that revenue often comes before the ethical treatment of animals, but the grotesque abuse of these puppies can be reduced at the very least. There is too much suffering of many to benefit so few. I do not expect puppy mills to ever simply disappear, but the conditions in these facilities can be improved to liveable standards. The Canadian Psychological Association has an ethical code for treatment of animals when conducting experiments, why can't dog breeders follow one?

I'll be posting on this post

I agree that a life is a life, puppy mills are a sad way to raise animals and even to keep animals in that type of place. Animal rights should be updated and be enforced more because using animals for humans is not a type of thing that should be done because animals feel pain too.

This link explains how Quebec is making new animal welfare regulations. The rules that they have introduced are that there has to be a minimum standard of caring and cleanliness for all shelters. These new rules were made to help the other animal laws. It helps the inspectors because they would know what they are supposed to look for. Quebec is considered one of the puppy mill capitals of North America. There are about 2000 puppy mills in Quebec. The SPCA are happy for the new rules because they are willing to help get rid of all the bad things that puppy mills do, such as leaving dogs permanently tied up or keeping cats in wire cages. SPCA is still not happy though because they think that the penalties should be increased for example, jail time or high penalties.