As a veterinarian, I took an oath to protect animals’ health and relieve their distress.  From prescribing medications to vaccinating against deadly diseases, I have been true to my word. However, vet school didn’t prepare me for the needless suffering that occurs just for the sake of profit.

With puppy mills, dogs are bred for quantity rather than quality. So, the puppy for sale in the pet store or online is likely the result of irresponsible breeding. Genetic diseases are unmonitored, and behavior problems can pass from generation to generation. This is in stark contrast to a reputable breeder who screens for genetic problems by having x-rays taken or the eyes examined by a specialist. In commercial breeding operations, the goal is profit. This equates to minimal vet care.

Not only are genetic diseases rampant, the day-to-day health of the breeding parents is often overlooked. Overcrowding, malnutrition, and unsanitary conditions may lead to a weakened immune system and increased disease. Mothers are bred each heat cycle, regardless of their mammary gland tumors or rotten teeth. In order to cut costs, dogs are often left without treatment.

The puppies are usually taken away from their mother too early, leaving their immune systems weak. Add to that the stress of cross-country transport, and the puppy is a prime candidate for parasites and viral infection. The unknowing purchaser may be left with high vet bills and heartache.

Now, back to that oath I took. Burbank is considering an ordinance to ban the retail sale of dogs and cats that come from these such places. Veterinarian or not, shouldn’t my fellow Burbank neighbors want to make a similar promise -- as a civic duty or moral responsibility -- to protect animals that depend on us for their care? Wouldn’t this be an obvious start?  

Laura Cochrane
Burbank, CA 91505

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