Study Indicates Long Term Psychological Damage in Puppy Mills

If you were crammed into a cage in filthy, horrible conditions from birth and kept in solitary confinement, with little reason to hope for a change in your fortunes, chances are good you would be scarred by the experience.  Now imagine you’re a puppy and that’s your life in a puppy mill. The first study of its kind confirms that dogs raised in puppy mills, even if they are eventually adopted by loving families, continue to suffer psychological after effects for years, if not the rest of their lives.

The journal Applied Animal Behavior Science will publish results of the study performed by Drs. James Serpell and Deborah Duffy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, in conjunction with Best Friends Animal Society. More than 1,100 dogs used for breeding in large scale commercial facilities (what you and I refer to as “puppy mills”) were studied, and the results showed an unusually strong tendency toward increased phobias, compulsive and repetitive behaviors such as pacing, as well as an increased sensitivity to being handled, along with other symptoms.

From the press release:

Dr. Frank McMillan, lead researcher of the study and director of well-being studies for Best Friends, said, “We always suspected the dogs in these facilities suffer emotionally because of the abnormal behaviors they show when they get out, but we can now scientifically confirm how truly destructive these places are for the dogs kept in them.”

“The results of the study indicate it really doesn’t matter if the breeding operation claims to be shiny and clean, abiding by the laws, or even whether or not they are licensed by the USDA,” McMillan said. “This study gives us strong evidence that the dogs kept in these large scale breeding facilities don’t just suffer while they’re confined there, but carry the emotional scars out with them for years even when they’re placed in loving homes. Many of the dogs show difficulty in simply coping successfully with normal day-to-day life.”

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. The corrosive effects of puppy mills are permanent. The solution? Perhaps a serious effort to outlaw puppy mills.

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