Is Russia the New Czar of Kitten and Puppy Mills??

Is Russia the New Czar of Kitten and Puppy Mills??

By: Staff  Date: 01/8/2001 Category: | Canine Issues | Feline Issues |

Val, a friend of mine, is a photographer’s representative for a celebrity photographer. She was recently on a photo shoot, and while chatting to the actor who was being photographed, he mentioned that he had an Oriental Shorthair cat, “a very, very rare and extremely expensive cat from Russia.” Her surprised comment was, “I have a close friend named Marva who has Oriental Shorthairs, lives in Los Angeles, and shows her cats in cat shows almost every weekend!”

He was amazed that such an exotic and rare creature as he possessed could be found in Los Angeles and he requested my phone number. Val mentioned this incident to me in passing, and it just as quickly flew out of my mind.

About a week ago, early in the morning after a late night of work, my phone rang. It was the actor with the Oriental Shorthair. He had just returned from the Cannes Film Festival. While he was gone, he had left his kitten (I had thought he owned an adult cat, but there were more surprises to come) with a friend, and the kitten – only four months old – had died of a sudden illness (liver failure), despite expert veterinary care to save it. The actor was heartbroken over the loss and wanted some information. I began to query him on where he got the kitten, etc.

Much to my amazement, he had purchased the kitten from a local Los Angeles pet store which got all of their pedigreed kittens and puppies from Russia! This actor had paid $1400 for the kitten, which is about three times the price that he would have paid for the same kitten from a local responsible hobbyist breeder – one who has a couple of litters a year and is involved with the cat fancy (showing cats and improving the breed).

Municipal regulations in Los Angeles and other cities are making it more and more difficult for hobbyist breeders to continue their hobby and exist while pet shops are still demanding the pedigreed puppies and kittens the pet buyers desire. The pet shops (most obvious choice for pet purchasers who are unaware of the origins of the animals and the place where many impulse buys occur) are mostly concerned with the bottom line and are eager to milk new sources of pedigreed kittens and puppies. It seems that countries like Russia, with true economic hardships and struggles, are becoming creative and turning to new markets, such as live puppies and kittens.

Is Russia becoming the puppy mill and kitten mill czar of the future?

This is a scary situation. Since local US officials and concerned citizens have been helping close down some of the horrendous and inhumane puppy and kitten (mostly puppy) mills that are for the most part located in Midwestern and Southern states, the pet buying market is hungry for these new outlets. To me, it is really sad that these very young kittens and puppies now also have to endure incredibly long plane trips that are bound to stress immature immune systems and psyches terribly. Who can even imagine the conditions they have come from? This is a country where there are fewer regulations or options for control than here at home in the US and the time-consuming chore of obtaining the most basic necessities for humans is at a premium.

Who knows how many of these young animals die in transit, terrified and alone? Given the economic situation in Mother Russia, it is doubtful that the breeder of the kitten I mentioned was paid more than $100 (still a true windfall for that country) and with a markup to $1400, someone is making a bundle on this transaction – if the poor little baby survives the trip!

The fact is, people want pedigreed puppies and kittens and they will continue to purchase them. If they can not find them easily from a reliable source, they will still want them and find them. The current restrictions, regulations and legislation will not curb this desire or change the motivation. Instead, it could contribute to even more sub-standard conditions, more tragic and unnecessary deaths and trauma.

The animal rights organizations think they can will these underground or overseas breeding mills out of existence through sheer determination and stubbornness. They think they can force people to think as they do, and this may be the case in some instances. However, our country was founded on the idea of individual choice and viewpoint and that is something they cannot alter – much as they would like to do just that.

For better or for worse, people need to have the option of obtaining a pedigreed kitten or puppy from someone they can trust – a responsible breeder who is involved with showing and improving his breed and cares about the health, welfare and future of the baby animal he has lovingly nurtured. A pet buyer should have the peace of mind of having a local person, who knows the animal and the breed, knows the lines and the parents, and is available as a source of help at any time in the pet’s life. Hopefully the pet buyer will also choose a loving and needy rescue dog or cat or adopt a mixed breed pet as a companion. This would be the best of both worlds and the humane thing to do.

I would really hate to see it get to the point when the only option for finding a pedigreed pet is a puppy or kitten from Russia, but if some animal rights groups have their way, the situation may (sadly) come to this.

I am still waiting to hear if the actor was able to recoup any costs of the kitten as he had only had his little friend for two months. The kitten was sold with only a three-day guarantee, so it is unlikely that he will get any results.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

photo credit: kittens via photopin (license)

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