First let me start by saying that I am incredibly excited to be a part of Victoria’s new website! Congratulations Victoria! Your strength, tenacity, and knowledge continue to improve the lives of dogs across the US. We are grateful to have you on our side of the pond! There are no words to thank you for your fight against the puppy mills plaguing this country. For those of you that may not know exactly what a puppy mill is, let me define it; a puppy mill is a breeding facility where dogs are bred for human greed. There is no concern for the health and wellbeing of these animals…only the cash they can put in the puppy millers pocket. Individual puppy mills breed hundreds of dogs per year (or thousands). These people are manufacturing dogs on an assembly line of cruelty.
My contribution to Victoria’s blog will be to keep you abreast of issues (and victories) involving puppy mills. With the increasing public awareness of the cruelty associated with puppy mills, we have finally reached a time where change is possible. By change I mean legislation prohibiting cruelty, the closing of pet stores that sell puppies, and the evolution of the animal activists/advocates. As animal activists, we are no longer just standing on the outside with protest signs. We are working with lawmakers to improve the lives of dogs. It seems that the “crazy animal people”, as we have been dubbed by our opposition, have gone mainstream and we are unstoppable. When lawmakers don’t want to hear about the cruelty, we will tell them about the communicable diseases found in puppy mills that can be transmitted to the families that purchase them. When they won’t look at the pictures of the conditions of dogs from puppy mill busts across the country, we will show them the lost tax revenue that this underground industry is simply pocketing. There are many reasons why puppy mills are wrong and we are happy to highlight them all.
The only way to truly stop puppy mills is with systemic change. For example the new regulations (HB 2525) in Pennsylvania, puppy mill capital of the east, have had an impact. According to Jessie L. Smith, Special Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, there were 134 commercial dog kennels licensed by the state in Lancaster County at the beginning of 2009…14 have closed and another 33 will be forced to close by the end of year. Take a moment to savor this victory but know that there is a long way to go. States such as North Carolina and Texas have no regulations and the puppy mill industry in the Midwest is going strong.
So how did we get here? Why do puppy mills seem to be a national epidemic? The puppy mill industry has low overhead, few regulations, and puppy millers reap large financial rewards. However, none of this would be possible without consumer demand. The internet has created an environment where puppy millers can deceive consumers with nice pictures and warm stories of puppies by the fireplace. The fact is that the dogs are likely suffering through the outdoor elements, in cages that are too small, with little to no veterinary care, and no human kindness. Consumers also impulse buy puppies from pet stores. The fact is 99% of the puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills. You are never “saving” a puppy when you purchase from a pet store. You are simply making room for the next litter.
So here is what you can do right now, NETWORK! Public outreach is the key to educating about the cruelty associated with puppy mills. Use social networking tools to distribute links such as The Humane Society of the Unites States Stop Puppy Mills website and/or the Puppy Mill Awareness Organization website (links below). Both of these websites were created to raise awareness to this horrible industry. Talk to friends and family about puppy mills. Many people don’t understand exactly what a puppy mill is and that buying a puppy from one is NOT saving a dog. Buying a puppy from a puppy mill makes room for another litter and a life of cruelty for many more.
Another thing you can do right now is get to know your legislators. Know who represents you and have their numbers handy. Legislation to regulate puppy mills is now pending in many states. You have the power to make changes and provide a voice for those that have none. The people that do NOT want puppy mill regulations are contacting your legislators so please make sure that you contact them as well. If this is something that you have never done before take it from me…it is the simplest and most powerful thing that you can do for the animals in your state. Without even leaving your home, you have the power to participate in systemic change that will impact the lives of thousands. Call your representatives and ask them to support commercial dog breeder (or puppy mill) regulations. We, as a community, can stop this greedy and cruel industry.
I look forward to keeping you abreast of the victories that are to come!
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