Interview with Tomáš Kreml, author of MAX - a comic for children against puppy mills
The issue of puppy mills is still a thorny topic and a big problem. If demand exists, the offer of puppies from puppy mills, where female dogs are suffering as they must give birth repeatedly, will coexist as well. Raising of public awareness is an effective weapon to combat puppy mills. A that is why a comic book was created – the story of Max showing people what can happen if they get a dog from the puppy mill. We interviewed Tomáš Kreml, the author of the comic.
What exactly is a puppy mill?
You can imagine dog-breeding farms as a heartless facility with the main purpose to make a lot of money with little money. To have an idea I will try to describe one of the many of puppy farms. Cages or pens, pervasive dirt, and stench and X dogs of one or more breeds inside. Most of the dogs kept there will never see the sun, grass, trees. The cage or fence, the stench, and the dirt, that’s all their life. Pain of the body, pain of the soul. That is the life of a puppy farm dog. Female dogs must give birth with each heat period to make more money. If the female dog has innumerable litters or is not self-sufficient at birth, the breeder will get rid of her quickly. There is nothing else to do with her, right? After all, the breeder will not feed the idlers!
The term puppy mill has been just a media title until recently and was related to any reproduction of animals without pedigree for commercial or non-commercial reasons. Today, the term “puppy mill” has got into legal language and it is defined as "a facility where dogs or cats are kept and bred in inappropriate conditions that cause them to suffer and in large numbers that do not allow them to meet their physiological, biological or ethological needs," and the term "puppy mill" refers also to any facility the "main purpose of which is not to breed animals or make profit”.
Why should not people get a dog or other animal from the puppy mill?
If a person really likes animals, he cannot be indifferent to who he buys a puppy from. It is not only about a particular puppy, but also about mother and father dogs kept in such facilities in completely unsatisfactory conditions. You buy a puppy, but mother and father dogs are getting ready for next reproduction.
A common argument of these buyers is: “Well! If I don't buy, someone else will."
And my answer always is: "If no one buys them, it is not profitable for the breeder to continue breeding dogs and making money on them." It is essential that the future master first finds out where to buy the puppy from. Ideally, to avoid the search through advertisements, as these are mainly used by those breeders and resellers, as their main sales channel.
So, if you are planning to get a puppy and you carefully think about all aspects, you should contact the kennel holding a trademark and is therefore entitled to issue pedigree certificates to its puppies. The pedigree certificate (usually marked with the abbreviation PC) will give you information about the origin of your dog friend. It is a birth certificate of a dog, with the line of his ancestors, a few generations backwards.
Quite often the pedigree certificate is considered useless and marked as ridiculous because "I do not want to take part at exhibitions, so why should I buy an overpriced puppy."
Pedigree certificates are not linked with the obligation to attend exhibitions and are not useless. The fact that the pedigree is stated in the pedigree certificate has its justification. As I have mentioned at the beginning, the poor conditions at puppy mills, the way how breeder does not care about the well-being and health of his dogs and even does not select the right stud dog to impregnate a female dog in the heat cycle, might result in a situation, that the female dog is impregnated by her father or brother dog or even by her son from the last litter. Such breeding will most likely affect the health of your dog in the form of genetic diseases. A cheap puppy from this breeder without pedigree certificate can then become more expensive as frequent visits to the veterinarian are requested.
Therefore, if you are planning to get a puppy, you should always consider the pedigree certificate. This minimizes potential health risks, because, among other things, breeders must test their breeding individuals for various genetic variations and choose only suitable individuals for reproduction. But there is one rule that should apply to everything we buy. Check it out! Search and ask for reviews. Even registered breeders do not have to take care of the well-being of their breeding.
Adoption is also the right choice. On the one hand, this will not support the breeder, and, above all, you will give home to a dog who might have been waiting for it sometimes for a desperately long time. In every good shelter they will tell you about a dog what you need to know. You can also arrange a walk so that you first get to know the dog, how he behaves and whether you fit together. Such animal is then grateful and happy to have a master.
How to distinguish a puppy mill from a real breeder? Can the advertisement warn us?
First, one should not search for a puppy in an advertisement. It is ideal to choose a kennel after considering which breed is right for my lifestyle. A kennel should be recommended or verified in advance, which is quite easy. The problem is that people often want a puppy right away. You often must book a puppy in advance with a reliable breeder and it can take up to half a year. So, you must keep this on mind.
What do farm breeders typically post in ads?
Farm breeders usually do not say much. We can often see puppies tucked somewhere on a blanket or grass. In the photos you usually will not see a puppy in a family environment with a female dog. The farm breeder also does not provide his/her name immediately to prevent you from finding negative reviews about him/her, for example. That is why they often change their phone number or email.
What is your comic about?
The story of little Max, is about a puppy that was born to be an easy income for a person who saw an opportunity to make money easily.
Getting a dog for the family is a big step and very often children are those who want a puppy. That's why the Max comic is focused on them. In the story, readers get to know Alenka, who has been longing for a puppy for a long time and gets one from her parents for her birthday. They bought little Max on an advertising portal and it turns out in some time that he comes from a puppy mill. Max gets sick and we will leave as a surprise for the readers how it will all turn out with him. Like any story for children, also this one will have a happy ending.
However, Max's mission is not only to spread enlightenment, but also to help. Everyone who buys the comic will contribute to the treatment of a dog and a cat. Other parts of the comic will be covering the story of animals helped thanks to Max.
At the end of the comic, there is a bonus for children in the form of various coloring books and crossword puzzles.
How was the idea for the comic born? Is there a personal bad experience behind it?
Raising of public awareness should be made with a human approach. There's no shame in not knowing. We believe that stories will appeal to more people than anything else. And children are hope. We believe that children can perceive the world more sensitively than any adult.
Little Max is not a real, concrete story, but his fate is inspired by the fates of dozens of similar stories.
Who would you recommend it to?
Although the comic is aimed at children, we believe that it will appeal also to those who left schools already years ago.
You can buy the comic in our e-shop or in our stores at Újezd or Vinohrady for CZK 89.