Dog Auctions

A little-known aspect of the pet trade

A little-known aspect of the pet trade

You probably know about Ebay auctions and car auctions and livestock auctions—but another type of auction takes place nearly every weekend throughout the summer, and their existence usually comes as a shock to animal lovers. They’re similar to livestock auctions; animals are paraded in front of the audience, with the auctioneer’s voice blasting through the building as livestock are shuffled in and out, sold to the highest bidder for as much cash as possible. But in sale barns and kennels throughout the Midwest, thousands of companion animals are crossing the auction block each year just like livestock. In 2007, more than eighteen thousand dogs were bought and sold this way.

Auctions are not attended by families looking for a new pet—they are all business from beginning to end. The purpose of these events is to have a venue for professional, commercial breeders (also known as puppy millers) to sell off their unwanted breeding dogs. The dogs bought and sold are not treated as pets; they are valued strictly for their capacity to make money. And make money they certainly do. Dog auctions are a multi-million dollar industry in the U.S. The number of dog auctions in the U.S. has jumped from twenty-eight to sixty-eight in the past seven years, while the number of dogs exchanged increased from just over 5,000 to just over 18,000.

Pets or Livestock?
Auctions are not a place for people who see dogs as pets. Auctioneers rattle off a dog’s qualities to attract bidders, shouting things like "this one’s in heat, she’s in heat folks!" or, "this is a young female—she’s ready to go to work for you" and "she’s pregnant, that’s money in the bank." If shoppers in a pet store were to witness this, they’d most likely be confused. The same breeders that buy and sell dogs at auction are the ones filling pet stores with puppies; they bank on the fact that customers want cute, cuddly pets.

There is a serious disconnect here. The dogs bought and sold at auction are kept in cages for their entire breeding lives. They live in outbuildings and fields instead of homes; they never run in the grass, sleep in a bed or play with a toy. None of these things are required by the USDA, which regulates commercial breeders. But at the same time, the puppies from these canine "cash cows" are presented in pet stores as cuddly little companions, though their breeding parents will probably never live in a home.

Click here to download an overview of dog auctions from 2000-2007.

What can be done?
Animal groups in several states oppose auctions in their community. Click the links below to read what people are doing about auctions, and how you can help.

Dog Auctions in Ohio:

Dog Auctions in Wisconsin:

Dog Auctions in Missouri:

Courtesy of For the Love of the Dog: Dog Auction Capitol of the US—Missouri

Posted by Kelli Ohrtman: Best Friends Network
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