Dogs in cruel breeding facilities (a.k.a. puppy mills) are generally already condemned to an existence of neglect and suffering. Yet occasionally stories of breeder cruelty come to light that far surpass even the predictably dire conditions.
We recently received a disturbing inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of a federally licensed dog breeder drenching a dog’s wound in hot sauce to prevent her from licking it. Within the report were photos of the Husky in question, the sore on her leg and what the breeder claimed were treatment instructions written by a licensed veterinarian: “Pour hot sauce on so she’ll stop licking leg.” Documentation indicates that the breeder initially treated the dog with hot sauce before the vet exam was conducted and continued to treat the dog in subsequent months. At the time of the USDA inspection, the vet was unable to be reached for verification.
The USDA oversees commercial breeders and is responsible for enforcing minimum standards of animal care set forth in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). But due to the USDA “blackout,” in which the agency removed its animal welfare records from its publicly accessible website, we have no way of learning who this breeder is or whether any enforcement actions were taken against this breeder. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that there were any substantive repercussions.
It seems like this could only be the isolated offense of an irrational breeder; yet reports of strange and often cruel DIY treatments administered by breeders are unfortunately not rare. Commercial breeders are always looking for ways to increase their profit margins. Given how cursory and infrequent USDA inspections are, this is surely just the tip of the iceberg as far as breeders employing ridiculous techniques to cut corners and save money.
We received another alarming report conducted on a licensed guinea pig breeding facility, at which the breeder was adding Tang drink powder to the animals’ drinking water to treat vitamin C deficiency. The breeder claimed he had conferred with a vet on this course of treatment, yet the vet was unreachable for comment at the time of the inspection.
The same licensed guinea pig breeder was also cited for performing DIY euthanasia on his animals. The method he employed was not described, but the report made clear that his method was a violation because it was “not acceptable as performed by a vet with an injection of solution” and did not meet the requirements of “being a humane destruction accomplished by a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress.” It’s disturbing to imagine the suffering these animals likely endured at the hands of this USDA licensee.
What can be gathered by these two troubling reports is that commercially bred dogs and other animals are made to forego regular vet care in favor of questionable and cruel home remedies. Breeders may—and do—frequently perform a host of invasive veterinary procedures themselves, including ear cropping, tail docking and caesarian sections. Further, because of the blackout, neither we (the ASPCA) nor anyone else can discover the identity of these breeders. We are also unable to determine if the USDA is doing its job of enforcing the federal law against these types of breeders.
Lack of transparency plus lack of enforcement adds up to a terrible situation for animals in cruel breeding facilities. We are determined to restore the USDA’s database of inspection reports and increase enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, but we need your help. Please stand up for suffering animals by signing our petition demanding the USDA restore full access to animal welfare information.
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