For the third and final part of our animal series, the next staff favorite at Upaya Naturals is one that many people also favour. An animal that many of us have as pets and care for often as one of our own. That’s rights, dogs! So cute and cuddly, so happy to see us when we come through the door after a long day at work and school, loyal beyond belief and so courageous and protective of their families. There are so many characteristics of a dog that we all love and value but what a lot of us don’t know or may not realize is that all over the world, there are people who treat dogs the exact opposite as we would as pets.

In Canada, United States and many other countries around the world, people see dogs as domesticated animals often kept as pets and cared for as members of our families. But in other areas around the world and even in our own countries, there are traumatic things that happen to our furry little friends.

When we purchase a puppy from a pet store, we see a cute little animal that we want to take home, but what a lot of us don’t know is where the puppy came from and where he or she was bred. Before animals are put up for sale in a pet store, they have to be bred and born somewhere first. Most often, these puppies come from places called puppy mills. Puppy mills are sometimes known as puppy farms and these are a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care. In puppy mills, females are sometimes bred every time they are in heat to increase profits, resulting in gradually decreasing sizes of litters. As puppies, mill dogs are also often weaned from their mothers well before the eight to ten weeks recommended. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not receive adequate attention, exercise or basic grooming. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. It is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. Breeder dogs at mills might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or kept inside indoor cages all their lives. Often, after the breeder dog has reached the age of 4 years, they are no longer needed and killed.

Another unsettling fact that most of us did not know is that although “dog fighting” is illegal, certain levels of the act “dog baiting” is not. Dog baiting is a traumatic and abusive act that takes place before a dog fight. A bait dog is basically a punching bag for game (fighting) dogs. Except we all know that dogs don’t punch, they bite and tear. Dog fighters use bait dogs to let their game dogs practice mutilating another dog, without being harmed in the process. To insure their dogs aren’t damaged, they will either use duct tape to tape the bait dog’s mouth shut, or break out their teeth so the bait dog can’t fight back. They also either, put them in a pit, or tie them to a tree or pole, so that they can’t get away from the game dogs. And yes, we did say dogs, plural, because they generally unleash several dogs on one bait dog at the same time. It makes the game dogs more aggressive, since there is competition. The mass majority of bait dogs don’t survive, and obviously suffer horrible deaths, spending their last moments in excruciating pain and are scared to death, before it comes. The ones who do survive, are maimed and scarred for life, both physically and emotionally. A bait dog can be any dog.  It could be your dog. Although they (those who run and organize the dog fighting) prefer to use non-aggressive or submissive Pit Bulls, they will easily use any dog they can get for free. When they get Pit Bulls who won’t fight, or don’t fight well, they use them for bait dogs. These people are well known for stealing other people’s pet Bull Dogs as well. They will take the dogs right out of people’s yards if they can. But, they will also take any other dog they can get their hands on. In their eyes, when it comes down to it, they need fur, flesh, blood and meat to replicate a dog fight, so anything with all of that is fair game. This is by far one of the highest acts of animal cruelty and it must be stopped!

One final unsettling fact that many of us don’t know about dogs (and even cats) is that quite often, when making faux fur, the fur of dogs and sometimes cats is used. So many people around the world think that they are doing the animal population a favour by purchasing faux fur instead of the real thing but what many don’t realize is that the fur in “faux” fur is still in fact fur and has to come from somewhere. The source? Dogs and cats. This fur can also come from other animals but most commonly it is dog fur used for faux. There have many in depth investigations that have lead to evidence showing that many animals are still alive and struggling desperately when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them. When workers on these farms begin to cut the skin and fur from an animal’s leg, the free limbs kick and writhe. Workers stomp on the necks and heads of animals who struggle too hard to allow a clean cut. Before they are skinned alive, animals are pulled from their cages and thrown to the ground; workers bludgeon them with metal rods or slam them on hard surfaces, causing broken bones and convulsions but not always immediate death. Animals watch helplessly as workers make their way down the row. When the fur is finally peeled off over the animals’ heads, their naked, bloody bodies are thrown onto a pile of those who have gone before them. Some are still alive, breathing in ragged gasps and blinking slowly. Some of the animals’ hearts are still beating five to 10 minutes after they are skinned. 1PETA (2014).  “A Shocking look into Chinese fur farms” [Online].  Available:  http://features.peta.org/ChineseFurFarms/ and 1YahooShine (2013).  “Your fake fur might actually be real dog” [Online].  Available:  http://shine.yahoo.com/the-thread-how-to/fake-fur-might-actually-real-dog-183400949.html.

Obviously this is a process that we think everyone can agree is traumatic, cruel, abusive and the list goes on. This is something that no animal should EVER endure, but as long a people continue to purchase furs of any kind, these acts will not stop.

We can make a difference! What can we do? Well, the next time you or your family and friends may be considering a puppy or a family dog, why not try adopting or rescuing? This gives hope to animals and gives them the love and the chance at life that they deserve. Thinking fashion? Don’t buy fur! There are so many other trendy looks out there that do not involve furs of any kind and still look fashionable and stylish. Take a stand for dogs along with us at Upaya Naturals!

This three part series has been such a journey and so educational. We have learned many things and we really hope that our readers have too! We would like to promote equality for people and animals alike. We would do it for ourselves, so why not for animals too? It doesn’t take a lot of work or effort, just a sound mind and a heart that wants to help!

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