Dog By Dog is a film documentary that, when released, will shake up the commercial puppy breeding industry in the U.S. and beyond. It exposes a network of power and money that views companion animals, our pet dogs, puppies, as nothing other than a commercial, agricultural crop.

Across human history, dogs have never before been treated in the way they are today as products. Uniquely, they have co-evolved alongside us to live as our companions, not as livestock. The puppy mill industry trashes this relationship and inflicts damage on those trapped in a modern industry kept in place by a network that sees and treats them as nothing other than breeding machines. Although the film is focused fully on the United States puppy mill business, the issues it investigates in a system where dogs suffer for years, some their entire lives, are common to many countries around the world.

Millions of Profitable Puppies

Figures from the Humane Society of the United States estimate that each year in the U.S., between two to four million puppies are bought whose lives originate in the 10,000 or so puppy mills found in the country. Puppies that are bought online or in pet stores by people who may not know that the cute, irresistible, puppies leave behind parents who experience nothing but neglect, cruelty and unimaginable physical and emotional trauma, for years. The puppy mill business is all about maximizing profits, which means keeping costs to a minimum; care, food, shelter, human contact all costs money: they are kept to a minimum.

While thousands of puppy mills are not inspected nor regulated, conditions found in those that are, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), are shocking. Shocking that is, to those who see dogs as companions, not a product. Even legally compliant USDA licensed breeders, house dogs, in some cases, hundreds of dogs in single facilities, in small wire cages. Cages. Imagine the puppy, bought to live in the home, to be loved as one of the family, leaving his mother behind in a tiny wire cage that she will never escape alive. And that is legal.

Dog by Dog

The Pet Store Connection

The pet stores where the puppies are shipped to, sometimes thousands of miles away, will not tell the puppy buyers any of this, of course. They may say their puppies come from inspected facilities, from breeders not puppy mills. All is quite possibly true. USDA inspected, licensed, facilities, can house hundreds of breeding dogs in small cages. Whether called a breeder or a puppy mill, the dogs don’t care. They don’t play with words.

In fact, they don’t play at all. They breed and they suffer.

That is their life for as long as it lasts. And their puppies get sold in pet stores and online. No breeder who cares about the lives they create, rather than the money they can make, will sell their puppies this way. They care where their puppies are going to be spending the rest of their lives and they care about the parent dogs. A pet store cares about the sale, about the “crop” that has now become the “stock.” It is a business, nothing more.

 Dog by DogRay Tsang/Flickr

What do Puppies and the Agricultural Industry Have in Common?

Where this film is unique, is that it does what others have not yet done: it follows the money and unpicks the connections between agricultural regulation and industry and the mass puppy breeding business. It reveals those who are responsible for maintaining a system where parent dogs can be confined in tiny spaces, with little care, in isolation, with minimal human contact, food, water and shelter their entire lives. It identifies a web of power between legislators, big agricultural players and corporate interests that enable an ugly industry to continue undisturbed, while puppy buyers remain ignorant of the true source of their companions.

It is a dreadful example of an inhumane business. A business that has nothing to do with a love of dogs. It is all about the dogs being “cash crops.” Crops that are produced the most profitable way possible. The puppies represent nothing more than cash in the bank for those in the business. The most irresponsible and greedy breeders thrive in the system, one where puppy breeding is endorsed as a valid agricultural business, with accompanying legislation that supports this. Dog By Dog draws out these connections and influences.

Global Catastrophe for Dogs

While the film firmly centers on U.S. puppy mills, similar issues exist around the world. Where the agencies and corporations involved may differ, the commercially driven suffering they keep in place is the same in the UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. The film is scheduled for worldwide release later this year, and is already gaining huge international interest precisely because what it exposes is a global concern for many who see an utter catastrophe being inflicted on dogs.

What the film will create is an awakening to a new realization that we, as individuals and members of a global society that values our canine companions, can and must change the system. A system which sees puppies as “products” or crops, is not one, it is hoped, that viewers of this film will allow to continue. When the networks of power are seen, with the accompanying money that sustains the abuse, it is likely that the current acceptance of the system will crumble and better lives for the dogs will result. This incredible documentary certainly has all the potential to bring this about.

Details of the film’s release are eagerly anticipated and will be published on the Dog By Dog website when available. For more on the film and to visit the website. The official film trailer can be viewed here. Follow Dog By Dog on Facebook or Twitter.

Lead image source: Michael Gill/Flickr