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Breeding dogs at home is a harder business than many people realize

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United States

  • The Humane Society of the United States worked with the Wolfeboro Police Department to rescue more than 80 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday in Wolfeboro. The house the dogs were in was covered in fecal material. Courtesy of Meredith Lee and the Humane Society of the United States

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta

  • John Moyer, corporate outreach manager for the Humane Society of the United States' Stop Puppy Mills campaign carries one of the approximately 70 Great Danes rescued from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. The Wolfeboro Police Dept. called in The HSUS to assist with rescue and long-term care of the dogs. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United...

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta

  • The Humane Society of the United States Animal Rescue Team members John Sidenstricker and John Peaveler, right, load dogs during a rescue of approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. The Wolfeboro Police Dept. called in The HSUS to assist with rescue and long-term care of the dogs. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United...

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta

  • Senior Field Rescue Responder for The Humane Society of the United States Rowdy Shaw removes a dog from the house during a rescue of approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. The Wolfeboro Police Dept. called in The HSUS to assist with rescue and long-term care of the dogs. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United...

  • A dog waits to be loaded onto a transport vehicle as The Humane Society of the United States rescues approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. The Wolfeboro Police Dept. called in The HSUS to assist with rescue and long-term care of the dogs. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United...

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. Capt. Mark Livie, left, and Sgt. Scott Moore, right, to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United...

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee—Humane Society of the United Sta



Monitor staff
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The horrible conditions at an alleged puppy mill of Great Danes in Wolfeboro reflect a fact that isn’t always obvious: Breeding dogs is a difficult business.

“Doing it well is much harder than people probably realize,” said Stephen Crawford, the New Hampshire state veterinarian. “The level of care that is required to handle nursing animals, get appropriate veterinary care, have the right type of setup in your home – it requires a substantial investment of time and money.”

While the state veterinarian’s office has not been involved with the Wolfeboro case, and isn’t called in for cases of puppy mills, the potential pitfalls of at-home breeding are well-known to animal-care professionals.

To outsiders, at-home breeding can seem lucrative and appealing. Depending on the breed and condition, purebred puppies can be sold for $500 or more apiece, and it doesn’t seem very hard to put a couple of dogs together in a room and create a litter.

The internet is full of sites that say at-home breeding of pups is a route to riches, or at least an easy way to be your own boss.

The reality is different, warns the American Kennel Club, which represents thousands of businesses that breed dogs for a living.

“Another factor that you must consider is the financial cost of having a litter of puppies. From the genetic screening and health tests before breeding to the extra food, supplies, and medical care required after the puppies are born, the cost of whelping and raising puppies can be very high, especially if complications arise,” the AKC cautions in an online guide to dog breeding.

As just one example, New Hampshire state law requires that dogs which are sold must have a health certificate signed by a veterinarian, indicating that they met legal requirements for vaccinations – depending on age, that can include rabies and distemper – and are “free of ... diseases or internal or external parasites.”

Such certificates are required not just for sales but for any “transfer” of puppies, even those that are given away. Certifications are also required for transfer of cats and ferrets.

New Hampshire state law says that if a dog, cat or ferret that cannot get a certificate due to medical complications, the breeder must give a full refund within two days – typical of the unexpected costs that can hit a home breeder.

It’s hard to know how many people breed and sell puppies in New Hampshire. Licenses are required only from operations that raise and sell 50 or more puppies or 10 litters in any 12-month period. Five operations have licenses as commercial breeders, Crawford said.

Smaller breeding operations, whether in homes ore elsewhere, come to officials’ attention only when local veterinarians sign health certificates. No database exists of how much of these are given out in New Hampshire.

The Humane Society, which helped in the rescue of the Wolfeboro dogs, says that, as of 2014, the U.S. had 1,924 federally licensed breeders and an estimated 10,000 “puppy mills” – a loose term that refers to breeders who do not meet hygiene and health standards – that produce 2 million puppies a year. More than 108,000 female dogs were kept just for breeding in 2014, it said.

Crawford suggested that anybody interested in breeding dogs should contact a local veterinarian and town hall to learn about requirements both of animal health and possible issues with zoning or local requirements.