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Who Doesn't Love a Puppy?

Where are their mothers and fathers?

The cute puppy in the pet store window, the rolling green hills and idyllic farms where dogs and puppies frolic happily ever after on the Internet. Cute and innocent. Puppies are loved, they are our buddies. We bring them into our homes with little awareness of where they came from. Most of us don't think to ask where their mothers and fathers are. We trust the pictures and the nice person at the pet store. Who in the world would lie about puppies? These are baby animals, not politicians. 

The answer is that almost everyone involved in the retail sale of puppies and kittens, in stores, online, and in our newspaper ads, plays a part in deception. The truth, the cruelty behind the retail puppy is so unbelievable people dismiss it. The truth is puppy mills. Our cuddly cuties come mostly from Midwestern, USDA-licensed commercial breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills. 

Puppy mills exist to churn out puppies at maximum profit. These 'facilities' are often nothing more than stacked wire cages of breeding dogs, some with no shelter from the elements, others with no natural light. Sawdust mixed with food results in poor nutrition. Veterinary care is often withheld. Dogs that can no longer churn out litters are killed or sold at auctions. All to maximize profits without considering animal welfare or quality product, the puppies.

These mills are the legal equivalent of dogfighting. Yes, you read correctly. Puppy mill owners and dog fighters both neglect, abuse and kill dogs for profit and without remorse. These facts and so many more are documented in USDA inspection reports, proven with video and confirmed by mill owners themselves. Your neighbor buys a puppy without either meeting its parents or Googling the breeder name to find violations. Supply and demand keeps business booming. We are deceived and animals suffer. 

The good news is that awareness growing. Social media and major campaigns by animal welfare groups have done wonders. Cities and towns from Hallendale Beach, Florida to Los Angeles have banned the retail sale of puppies and kittens. Local education such as this blog help.   

While I would love it if everyone were so outraged they called their senator today, I know that is not feasible. My plan is to provide readable doses of information over the next few months about laws, what is changing and what we can do at each step. My hope is that some of you will spread the word, write a letter, or even become an activist.

What can you do today?

If you are looking for a pet, consider shelters, breed rescue groups and reputable breeders. The puppy parents will be on the premises, not in a USDA-licensed kennel. The breeder will insist on reference checks and meeting everyone living with the dog. There will not be a coupon in the paper for the puppy. Shelters ensure all shots are updated, the pet is neutered or spayed, and often microchipped.

No reputable breeder, much less decent human being, would  pack and truck 7-8 week-old puppies like canned goods to be purchased by anyone with cash or credit. It is that simple.

If you purchased an animal from a pet store, Web site or newspaper ad and it was sick or developed health problems, PLEASE report it to NYS online at: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/petdealercomplain.html.

Learn more and go inside a mill at http://www.aspca.org/PUPPYMILLS

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

George Wallace January 05, 2013 at 03:12 PM
'Anyone who says you can't buy love forgot little puppies' Gene Hill
Heather Bradley January 05, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Great piece!
Lori Pranckevicus January 05, 2013 at 08:31 PM
If one person did something it would be a huge impact to end this travesty. Thank you for bringing this to light.
barbara d January 05, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Wonderful insight into this cruel business. Thank you
Ryanne January 06, 2013 at 02:25 PM
As very sad and true this is, You also should be aware that most breeders that make a part- time living from this to can be USDA certified. That doesn't necessarily mean they are running a puppy mill. But it is important to check on these things and do your Homework before you purchase a puppy.
Kristie M January 06, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Ryanne, nothing is USDA certified. It is only licensed. Certified implies a stamp of approval or guarantee. It is not. It only means they pay a fee of anywhere from $30-$750 a year and agree to a single, scheduled annual inspection. The USDA has no power to arrest or shut down mills, either. It is a joke. In my next blog entry I am going to address how poor the USDA standards are and the fact that they do not even do this minimum job properly. Hint - you can have dogs with ulcerated eyes and rodent droppings in food and be fined under $500. Rotted teeth and jaws are not even written up in the reports most of the time because they are so common.
Lisa Patterson Lay January 07, 2013 at 10:15 PM
There are many puppy mills in Pennsylvania Dutch country as well. The folksy people who now star in Amish reality shows are some of the worst offenders.
michael mirra January 08, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Always adopt from the shelters. You won't be supporting these mills & you will take in an animal that is, in effect, on death row for no fault of it's own except some cold human deserted it. This post is about dogs, but I took in a stray cat about 4 years ago & he is the sweetest, most loving animal I could ever imagine. I consider myself so lucky to have hime that I sometimes wonder if Devine Intervention had a hand in my saving his life.
R Miller January 08, 2013 at 11:36 AM
The easiest way to put them out of business is to do no business with pet stores, etc. Only get your dog from a reputable breeder or rescue organization. All my dogs have been rescues.
Noelle Smith January 09, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Thank you so much for a great post. The love of our life came from a kill shelter in Tenessee via North Shore Animal League. He's big black and fluffy and looks like his tongue was dipped in ink. By all means, we're not heading to Westminister for "Best in Show" but, he is precious and has stole our heart. He's also far healthier than any of his pure-bred friends. He knows he was saved and the pleasure was ours. Adopt a pet and save a life, it will change yours.
Ashley Wilbourn Pinciaro January 10, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Great post! As a mom of a former puppy mill stud dog, I appreciate your bringing awareness to this issue!
Kristie M January 11, 2013 at 02:38 AM
Thanks for the great feedback and comments. I hate that these mills exist and am grateful for the opportunity here to raise awareness. I honestly believe we can shut down puppy mills with local action and education.
Tina M. January 11, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Thank you for this invaluable information.

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