4 min read

The Heartbreaking Truth Behind This Cute Photo Of Puppies

All dogs may go to heaven, but many begin their lives in a very different place.

When authorities descended on a Michigan property this week, they found English bulldogs, schnauzers and everything in between. All stacked high in cages. And ready to ship.

ASPCA / YouTube

"What I saw in Michigan were dogs in the worst conditions," ASPCA investigator Tim Rickey says in a video, documenting the raid. "They were kept in cramped wire cages stacked on top of one another in a dark basement."

This howling pit was literally hell on Earth. And, like every puppy mill, it was made to order.

According to the latest data from the Humane Society of the United States, there are around 10,000 legal and illegal puppy mills operating in the country. Their inmates are shipped to pet stores, ultimately feeding a market that consumes more than 2 million puppies every year - and makes it even harder for millions of shelter dogs to get adopted.

ASPCA / YouTube

The animals found at the Michigan site ranged in age from just four weeks to adults. Amid that wholesale suffering, it's easy to forget the oldest victims - the animals forced to perpetuate the business.

"While the puppies at breeding facilities are sold for profit, their parents are often kept there for years, subjected to incessant breeding and typically lacking routine veterinary care and basic socialization, resulting in a very poor quality of life," Rickey states in a press release.

ASPCA / YouTube

In all, more than 50 animals were recovered from the puppy mill, while the owner faces criminal charges.

"When we arrived, there were more than a dozen puppies waiting to be sold, Rickey narrates in the video. "Most of them had no access to adequate food or clean water."

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this operation? Its run-of-the-mill horror.

"This is not uncommon in the puppy mills we've seen," Rickey notes in the video. And it's ultimately just another day on the retail side of the equation. Most puppies in pet stores hail from hells like this.

ASPCA / YouTube

"It's just a sad existence. It doesn't have to be this way."

No, it doesn't. Support the ASPCA's fight against puppy mills by visiting their website and making a donation.

And if you're considering adding a dog to your family, don't even think of buying one at a pet store. Visit Adopt-A-Pet.com to get the process started.