The results of animal cruelty are unfortunately often obvious; we see cruelty and its impact on an animal and are understandably appalled. It’s easy to stand from the outside and point a finger toward those who keep a dog chained in the backyard. We can all agree that is no life for a dog: knowing no humane connection, exposed to the elements, kept solely to serve a purpose as a prisoner of someone’s property. That animal is not a companion. It is not a pet. It is not a life worth living. You can see it.

It’s unfathomable for us to imagine ourselves contributing or participating in that type of abuse. It’s even harder to imagine that in buying that cute designer puppy from a breeder, you could be doing just that.

Many families engage in a parallel that doesn’t get the attention of backyard resident dogs. Perhaps because this parallel is less visible and is typically attributed to suburbanites with disposable income: a designer dog from designer breed puppy mills.

In late 2019, the Michigan Humane Society took in more than 40 various designer poodle mixes from a puppy mill. Sadly, situations like this are all too common.

But why?

It’s simple: designer dogs are popular, and more importantly for puppy mills, they generate money. These dogs were not bred for the love of the breed or for any inherent passion for animals. They are just a commodity. As demand for trendy breeds increases, so does the temptation for a breeder to adopt unsafe, inhumane practices to meet growing demand.

Those that breed dogs absent of clear and humane standards, and without any true connections to the animals they breed, are guilty of animal cruelty and neglect.

Furthermore, if you purchase a designer dog from a breeder without knowing the conditions in which he or she was bred and raised, you may share guilt by supporting this activity.

After reading that, you might think that the Michigan Humane Society is completely opposed to breeders. That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, I see a time in the near future when responsible and ethical breeders work together with shelters to meet the needs of our communities for family pets—a time when there are not enough animals in shelters alone to meet that need.

That is not the case today. Shelters remain full of fantastic, happy, healthy, friendly dogs and cats just waiting for a new home. However, with current spay and neuter initiatives, intervention and support programs, humane education and the evolving role of pets in our lives, it is a fact that populations in shelters have decreased over the past decade. I anticipate that trend to continue.

To truly save a life, the Michigan Humane Society needs you to consider adopting rather than purchasing from a breeder. However, if you are set on buying a dog from a breeder, know that there are dangers in buying a dog because it’s trendy. You may inadvertently be contributing to suffering, cruelty and neglect.

Choose a pet for the right reason.

Choose one because it’s the best fit for your family, not because it’s trendy. Be part of the solution by making informed and responsible choices. The dogs and cats will thank you.

If you are interested in adopting, please consider your local humane society or animal shelter. If you would like to learn more about adoptable animals at the Michigan Humane Society, stop by one of our adoption centers or look at our Adopt a Pet section.

And if you’d like to help support the work we’re doing every day to address animal cruelty, you can make a donation to MHS today.

Photo credit: Michigan Attorney General’s Office