In mid-March, Christina Fay of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, was convicted with 17 counts of animal cruelty.
Fay had been accused of neglecting the welfare of 75 Great Danes that lived with her in her 13,000 square foot mansion, which is suspected to have been used as a puppy mill. When authorities fetched the dogs from their cage, many of them had suffered from serious eye infections. Fay, nicknamed “Cruella De Vil,” had been breeding these dogs for her own selfish interests.
It is unbelievable that a single woman was the sole owner and caretaker (if that term is even applicable) of close to 100 Great Danes. Great Danes are large dogs; weighing between 110-180 pounds and reaching heights of 28-34 inches. Because of their massive frames, their lifespan is usually a short eight to ten years.
Great Danes are highly susceptible to diseases and illnesses such as heart disease, gastric torsion, cancer and hip dysplasia. After they were taken into custody, four of the dogs passed away from gastric torsion, more commonly known as bloat.
Due to their high vulnerability to disease, it is crucial that these animals receive proper and scheduled check-ups at the local veterinary clinic- something Fay did not do. Many of the rescued animals were found with sores, lesions, infections and a few were left completely blind.
Fay should have made sure that no unneeded stress was being placed on the dogs. They were living in an environment that was filthy and hazardous to their health. Feces and urine were found throughout the property.
One would think that with Fay’s estate being over 13,000 square feet, she would be able to afford housekeeping and vet bills for these dogs. This makes one wonder why she even had them to begin with. She only wanted to breed them out of greed. It seems like she did not care for them if she let them roam around, suffering in that house.
This brings up the ethics of dog breeding. Unfortunately, many dogs are bred inhumanely in puppy mills, which are used to sell the dogs for a high profit. The difference between this and regular dog breeders is that mill breeders do not meet hygiene and ethical standards.
Dog breeding is a “ruff” business to track. In the state of New Hampshire, breeding licenses are only required for those that raise and sell at least fifty puppies or ten litters in a twelve-month period. The only way vet clinics are notified of smaller breeding operations are when they sign the puppy’s health certificate. On top of that, there is no database to store this information, making it almost impossible to keep track of how many puppies are bred and born.
As of 2014, The United States had 1,924 federally licensed breeders. Although it is impossible to give an exact total, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in operation, according to the Humane Society. This is an astonishing number of unethical breeding practices happening around the U.S. Many do not realize that they are fueling the sales of these puppy mills when they buy puppies from advertisements they find online.
There are various ways to combat this unethical practice. When looking to purchase a new animal, first look at the right source. Avoid puppy hunting on online platforms such as the Facebook marketplace and Craigslist. Not everyone on these sites is conducting the same kinds of unethical practices that Fay was, but it is safer to not use these search engines.
Instead, check the classified advertisements in your local newspaper. There is a screening process that the newspaper adheres to so you know you are contacting an ethical breeder. Another location to search for a new puppy would be your city’s veterinary clinic. They will make sure the breeders and sellers are verified. Also, they extensively examine the puppy’s vitals and give them all the shots and boosters they need, at little to no cost.
Hopefully, within the upcoming years, we will be able to eradicate these puppy mills and fully condemn those behind them. Christina Fay was let off easy. The punishment should be harsher for those who do something this inhumane.
As they say, a dog is man’s best friend. The next time you are looking for a fur baby, take the time to research more on the person and agency that is selling them. Raising a puppy can be an enriching life experience so make sure they come from an amiable breeder. A healthy pupper is a happy pupper.