In Hungary 9 out of 10 pure bred dogs come from puppy mills and find their new owners on the black market. This country is the hot bed of illegal breeding and puppy factories. These dogs are “cheap” as no proper care and attention, not to mention money went into their breeding, upbringing or veterinary care. Often kept in horrible circumstances, these pups have numerous health issues and don’t live past their puppy years. Since there is a huge market for pure bred dogs in Western Europe these mills continue to operate illegally. They sell pups to merchants arriving from Italy, UK, Germany and France. Often the dogs are too small and fragile to take on the long journey, and most haven’t even received proper vaccination. Some die before even reaching these countries.
According to a dog trainer we spoke to, almost every breeder in the country is running their business illegally. I added a video from the latest puppy mill discovered by the police in Barcs, Hungary. The operators kept almost 100 dachshunds in small cages and in horrible circumstances.
The health concerns
There is a wast number of health issues that impact puppy mill dogs. Puppy mill operators often fail to apply proper husbandry practices that would remove sick dogs from their breeding pools. Because of this the buyer might end up paying many many times more money to treat these underlying health issues, than paying the price of a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder. These can include epilepsy, heart and kidney disease, diabetes, blood disorders, deafness and eye problems. These are only a few health problems that can occur to your newly acquired pup. We also need to mention the behavior problems and the sad reality of not really knowing what you get. As mix breed puppies are often passed on as pure breed.
I am sure that most of you wouldn’t buy the animal if you knew they came from a puppy factory. Now here is the trick. The merchants who collect them in Hungary do not require proper paperwork from the mill operators. They provide the dogs with fake papers that are issued in Italy making it look like they came from Western Europe. There is almost no way for the potential buyers to track where their new dog came from. Since within the EU there is no strict border control authorities only require a passport for the dogs. This makes for a very easy and smooth transfer of puppy mills pups from Hungary to western countries. Here the merchants can sell them for 5 times as much as they purchased them from. A puppy mill frenchie costs about €300 in Hungary and will sell for £1500. The most popular breeds are French bulldogs, English bulldogs, dachshunds, chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers, Pugs, Vizslas and spaniels.
How to fight puppy mills
I actually think it start with your mindset. Most of us are so fond of pure breeds and their specific looks that we will go for them without question. What we need to consider is that there is more to a dog than just their looks. In some cases the personalities are so strong that they make a very bad match for certain type of people. Would you choose a highly energetic Vizsla if you worked 10 hours a day and lived in a small flat? I think that a lot of consideration should forego choosing your dog!
Now to actually avoid ending up with a puppy mill dog I would highly suggest adoption. With adoption you save more than one life, you get a healthy, house trained dog whose recent history and personality is known to the shelter staff. And the added plus is that by adopting you help fight puppy mills. If you really have your heart set on a pure breed, then make sure it comes from a reputable breeder. Since there is no surefire way to tell whether those papers and licenses are not faked, you need to take extra precaution to select your pup. And the best way to do this is to see the breeder yourself. Never meet the breeder on an off-site location. Be sure to see the puppy’s parents and place they live. Puppies sold online often come from puppy mills. Whereas a reputable breeder will always make sure their dogs to the best homes. So much so, that for some pups you have to register in advance and the breeder will interview you to determine if you’d be a good fit.
Despite of popular belief not all Hungarians support illegal breeding. Some dedicated fosters and rescue centers I work with fight puppy mills. However, sadly due to proper legislation in place very little can be done, and every legal process is arduous and bureaucratic. Nonetheless they fight to confiscate, rehabilitate and re-home as many of these dogs as they can. To help their work you can share this story, donate, foster, adopt and be mindful when buying a dog. Any help is highly appreciated and if you are interested in their work you can read on on the links below.
Thank you for reading and please, don’t forget to leave your question or comment below!