Hooray for Puppy Mills!!

I’m not a politician, and I have never claimed to be interested in or able to comprehend what I’m sure are the delicate intricacies of how to create and enforce effective legislation.  I’m not big on telling people what they want to hear just for the sake of a few egos, and no one has ever accused me of being too soft on those I don’t necessarily agree with.

What I do know about is common sense, and as disinterested in politics as I may be, I get pretty passionate about injustice and cruelty, especially towards those who can’t protect themselves.  Child abuse is the most heinous crime I can think of, and nothing will ever compare with my outright loathing of those who are guilty of it.  Abuse against helpless animals is pretty far down the same road as child abuse, though, as far as I’m concerned.  In fact, much has been made lately of the link between animal abuse as a very common precursor to human-on-human (including children) crime.

That’s why I literally fail to understand how any decent, moral self-respecting human being can oppose efforts to curb the horrific and cruel practice of puppy mills.  Other than psychotic, neurologically damaged killers I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who would prefer that puppy mills stay in business and be allowed to profit and thrive off the misery and pain of dogs.

But I guess I don’t know enough people or have severely misjudged the humane tendencies of human beings at large, because somehow, there are still those who oppose puppy mill reform to the point where they go out of their way to ensure that no new laws are passed to protect dogs from this form of cruelty.  That’s exactly what happened recently in North Carolina, where a perfectly reasonable (and actually somewhat watered-down) puppy mill reform bill was summarily killed by the state legislative process due to mindboggling, astoundingly stringent opposition from a few powerful lobbying groups.

The bill was designed to "eliminate abusive practices and provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and puppies by establishing standards for their care at commercial breeding operations."  That’s it.  Basically, it would have made sure that any breeding facility that had 15 or more breeding bitches and 30 or more puppies was subject to state regulation, licensing, oversight and humane practice requirements by the state.   And some people thought that that was a bad idea worth fighting against.  Unbelievable.

Now I don’t have any problem with respectable breeders who breed for the love of their particular breed and are concerned about raising puppies in the best possible way, maintaining a full regard for all their dogs’ mental and physical well-being.  While I can’t imagine why I would ever go to a breeder to get a new dog when there are so many wonderful pets waiting to be adopted in shelters (most of whom had originally come from puppy mills or breeders, by the way), I understand those that do, and don’t look down upon them at all.  What I do have a problem with are people who go out of their way to actively oppose efforts to ensure the well-being of domesticated dogs.

The North Carolina puppy mill bill (SB460) was killed before it could get to a vote because several lobbying groups brought their considerable power to bear on those who were trying to pass the bill and save dogs’ lives.  The groups who have proudly announced their opposition to and relish their role in the ultimate defeat (for now) of the bill include the National Rifle Association and (amazingly) the North Carolina Pork Council.  PORK!!!??!!  RIFLES??!!!?

Now I can tell you that I enjoy eating bacon as much as the next girl from time to time, and a good hearty debate about the right to bear arms is what Americans’ right to free speech is all about, but I’m not going to get into that now because it’s not relevant to a blog post about puppy mills.

OH WAIT…  Pork and guns ARE suddenly a part of the discussion about puppy mills, because amazingly those who lobby on behalf of pork and guns have thrust themselves into the debate and (for some completely inexplicable reason) decided that a bill designed to curb abuses against dogs in puppy mills is a threat to those they represent (pork farmers and fans of guns).  I may not be a genius, but I like to think I have decent head on my shoulders, and still I just don’t understand this.

The NRA and the Pork Council have gone so far as to actually say that they have more of a problem with those who sponsor the bill than the bill itself.  So basically they’re willing to let their fear of those in support of the bill dictate their stance on whether or not they’re ok letting dogs languish in abject misery in puppy mills.   The NRA want to protect the rights of hobby breeders, especially those that breed sporting hounds, while the Pork Council believe that the main goal of this bill’s backers is not so much about puppies but is actually a more sinister plot to eventually force the entire country to stop ever eating meat again!  Brilliant.

All I can think is that these groups feel that a simple bill to crack down on puppy mills is somehow an assault on their way of life.  I can’t see how that could ever be the case, and I don’t think that makes any sense, but it’s the only explanation I can come up with for why they would obstruct laws opposing puppy mills.  Unless they really do just hate puppies.

I don’t think there’s a group in the world that I agree with 100% of the time on 100% of the issues.  I’m sure the Pork Council and the NRA have played some roles in making the world a better place from time to time, but on this issue, they’re dead wrong, and this time they’re exposing their willingness to put themselves, their greed and their egos ahead of the well being of defenseless domesticated animals.  These aren’t chickens, pigs, cows or even fish (and yes, I do believe all animals should be treated better even if they are being bred for their meat) – these are pet dogs and if we can’t come together to try and protect them, then what next?

Amazingly, even the American Kennel Club has voiced strong opposition to puppy mill bills in the past, presumably fearing that the more stringent laws on puppy farmers will trickle down to their registered breeders as well, causing them to be subject to stricter licensing and humane treatment laws.  They might also be worried that less breeders will be paying to register their puppies via the AKC which would mean less money for the AKC.  And here’s silly old me thinking that kennel clubs in general were organizations that were designed to put dogs’ well-being first.  If a registered breeder is doing what they’re supposed to, I don’t see why more oversight would be a problem for the AKC or its breeders.  If you’ve got nothing to hide, then you’ve got no problem showing what you’ve got.  If anything, more oversight would help the legitimate breeders, as they would have official status and stamps of approval as humane breeders.

The bill’s opponents also say there are already laws on the books in North Carolina that deal with the issue of animal abuse and puppy mills.  Hmmmm.  I guess they missed the fact that the current bill was inspired from the recent rescue of 300 dogs from a North Carolina puppy mill.  The current stuff’s not working, Einstein.

So here’s an idea:  why don’t the NRA and Pork Council bring their considerable power to the table on behalf of pet dogs in puppy mills and find a way to give whatever legislation currently exists the teeth it needs to identify bad breeders and hold them accountable?

 That’s an honest challenge to those opposed to puppy mill reform:  you fix the puppy mill problem however you want, so long as the following issues are resolved including:

  • dogs being kept in small cages all their life
  • dogs having no social interaction with other dogs or humans
  • dogs that develop genetically-based diseases due to incestuous breeding practices
  • dogs that have their vocal cords ripped out to stop their incessant barking
  • dogs living in and among their own feces and urine in cages stacked on top of each other
  • dogs that don’t know how to walk on solid ground after having spent their entire lives in wire cages.

 You opponents of puppy mill legislation come up with your own solution to the above problems that don’t conflict with your love of pork chops and shotguns, and you’ll be absolved.  If you don’t, though, we’ll know where you stand:  you’re ok with abuse to puppies and dogs.  It really couldn’t be any simpler than that.

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96 thoughts on “Hooray for Puppy Mills!!

  1. Cheryl

    Victoria, your comments are spot-on! I am as perplexed as you are with the politics involved. I have several adopted adult dogs and I know there are many, many more out there. We do not need puppy mills. The treatment these dogs receive is nothing less than reprehensible. I am not a North Carolina resident, but I fervently hope that the supporters of the legislation try again. I for one would be happy to email, tweet, call, whatever it takes.

    Thanks for taking the time to express your opinion on this. I know there are many who feel the same way!

  2. Amy Pope

    Shame on these two groups for letting their fear of something irrational (like the NRA taking sides against the puppy mill bill out of fear for the cessation of sporting breeds...and the Pork industry's fear of somehow these bills being related to pork-eating? Strange!). I'm glad you blogged on this, because I had no idea!!

    Here in our area, it's not unusual at all to see unwanted dogs and their litter of puppies being dropped off on the side of the road in the backwoods. And Spaying/Neutering is probably less commonly done than in other parts of the country, sadly. One of our family's sweetest pups was a tiny chihuahua that was put out of a car, in the middle of nowhere, and we watched the car speed away. How can people be so cruel? It's always angered me when domesticated animals are expected to run free, and somehow fend for themselves.

    But back to the subject at hand... I hear of puppy mills in our area. Usually for "muscle breeds"...but also for the cute, fluffy types.

    Every time I walk by a pet store and see puppies there, my heart is sad for so many reasons.

    So....Good for you, Victoria!! (for saying what you think...and for informing the rest of us).

  3. Shauna (Fido & Wino | R.O.A.R. Squad)

    Hear! Hear!

    As much as I do believe there is so much that needs to be done in terms of legislation when it comes to puppy mills I think that one of the most effective ways to get at these "farmers" is through their pocket books.

    I want puppy mills to go out of business because no one is buying their "product." I want every prospective and current pet owner to know that if they want a pet- whether it be a pure bred puppy or a senior mutt- they can find one at their local rescue org or shelter.

    I want Olympic athletes and singers and actors and authors and vets and race car drivers to stand up and say, "Oh yeah, by the way, my dog is a rescue, rescues are the dang hottest thing ever." I want little kids to beg their parents to go to the SPCA and the Paris Hiltons of the world to go to a rescue for their chihuahua (given that they have thought through the responsibilities of having a pet and will give the wee chihuahua a slammin' forever home).

    In many situation when money is involved it is only that very thing, money, that will get their attention. And we will get their attention. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) puppy mill farmers won't have a job.

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  5. Amy Pope

    Shauna... I agree! Exactly! With everything you said. The only way to truly impact the number of puppy mills is through reducing the interest in pet-store puppies. I think it's wonderful to see all the shows on Animal Planet that focus on animal rescue, and adopting from shelters. The SPCA commercials I've seen lately (with the faces of animals waiting for a family) are really compelling, to me at least. 🙂 But I wish these shows and commercials would be shown on all the network channels as well. I would love to see rescue-related shows like Animal Cops or Last Chance Highway (just as examples) on ABC, or Fox Family, so that non-cable subscribers would get to see some uncomfortable reality.

    Back to the subject at hand....Evidently, puppy mill owners aren't concerned about the numbers of animals being euthanized each year. Statistics mean nothing to a lot of people in general, for that matter! It's hard to envision millions of animals...so the numbers aren't as shocking as they should be.

    As long as puppy mills keep making a profit, they'll continue to keep up with public demand. So it's going to take public refusal to support their existence before they will stop doing what they do.

  6. Donna/ groomer from Iowa

    To tell you the truth I'm not surprised that the Pork Coundil is on the side of puppy mills. Why? Because North Carolina probably has as many Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or otherwise known as factory farms, as they do puppy mills and if legislature passes a bill to regulate the humane treatment of dogs and puppies, they are probably worried that the next step might be to regulate humane treatment of hogs. Factory farms are not known for their kind treatment of hogs. Hogs feel pain and suffering just as much as dogs and puppies and I do think something should be done about that too.
    Thank you Victoria for informing us of what's going on in North Carolina. Keep us informed and if you have any success come on up to Iowa. We have just as many CAFOs and puppy mills here.
    If there is anything I can do to help let me know.

  7. Lani

    Bravo, Victoria.

    Last year, our daughter adopted a beautiful 9 year old Basset Hound who had been a breeder bitch from a puppy mill. Her breasts hang down as though she is fully nursing. She's afraid of her own shadow, almost. She's afraid of men although timidly accepts our daughter's significant other. When we visit with our very sweet Lab and our Pug puppy, she runs and hides, although she lives with another Basset and two American Bull dog mixes.

    Our daughter is so patient with her, but we all doubt if she will ever really enjoy the remainder of her life. She is anoither victim of the puppy mills, just like all the puppies she bore. Absolutely tragic.

  8. Sally

    I totally agree with you - what can we do get the bill going again? Are there petitions that are circulating or senators we could write to urging their support? I don't understand how fighting dogs is a criminal offense with jail time and what these horrible puppy mill breeders do to these innocent animals goes seemingly unnoticed. My niece bought a puppy online from a "breeder" that was across the country from her and she had to retrieve the puppy (at about 7wks old) from the airport! They put a Papillion puppy in a crate and air freighted it! Unbelievable to me and what was equally unbelievable is she thought nothing of it while my sisters and I were freaking out. Anyway, point me in the direction of a live petition and I'll do my best to circulate it widespread. Thank you!

  9. iokijo

    First off I agree with all you said in your post... the mills have to be shut down..
    That being said.. I would suggest someone check the final version of the bill. Most times they die because the politicians add stuff to them that was never intended to be part of the bill. A great bill that would have done a lot to stop the mills could have greatly changed by additions to it; some having little to do with the original concept.
    I'm not excussing the NRA or Pork People in any way, what they did was wrong.. plain and simple. Just mentioning since that might be the reason their pea brains used to justify their actions..
    What a shame.

  10. Puggles & Pitties Pet Rescue

    Victoria, love the frank honesty and common sense in this post. I don't understand the people who are against this bill either. Apparently they have nothing more important to do with their time than stick their noses in issues they don't belong in.

    Equally sickening to me is that North Carolina still uses gas chambers to kill their shelter animals, so those cute puppies who are dumped in shelters once they're no longer cute puppies not only have come from a deplorable puppyhood, they look forward to a torturous and archaic death as well.

    How did humanity ever allow these things to happen? How has no one before now been so offended by these practices to try to put a stop to them? Every day that I'm involved with rescue, I hate humans a little more. It chips away at my soul.

  11. Angela

    There is so much to respond to in this post and the follow-up comments. I will take a stab at a couple of things.

    While I am against puppy mills just as much as Victoria and all others who have commented on this, I can also understand why there was opposition to this bill. Let me start by saying I love purebred dogs, and do plan on breeding dogs when I have the time and money to do it right. I have also volunteered at a variety of local shelters for the last two decades and have seen some terribly sad victims of abuse.

    In my area, the dogs in the shelter aren't usually purebreds: they're "designer dogs" or mutts. Most "breeders" in this area (granted, it's not NC) are people looking to make some quick easy money breeding their family pet and passing it off as a "doodle" or Shih-chon (Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise cross), etc. They would not be touched by this bill. Yet... these are the animals that end up in the shelters in eight months or a year, after they've worn out their welcome. We have a couple pet stores that sell puppies and kittens, as well. They source them from the same backyard breeders, as well as some "puppy/kitten farms" around here. There is a movement to ban the sale of puppies and kitten in stores, but the local online classified ad services have hundreds of listings for puppies any day.

    My first point, then, is that this bill wouldn't do anything to curb the number of animals in the shelters. The puppy farms can and are checked out by SPCA/Animal Control for cruelty and inhumane conditions.

    However... even with food, water, and shelter, a growing puppy needs so much more to blossom into a stable, happy adult companion: mental stimulation; exposure to mild stressors such as noises, gentle children, and strange adults; toys, interaction with puppy-safe adult dogs, etc.

    As with so many other tough problems, it comes down to education: teaching people that pets are not disposable, showing them the real cost (in both money and time) of pet ownership, and that the best way to get a wonderful lifelong companion is to buy a puppy from a responsible, knowledgeable breeder who not only provides the basics but also added enrichment: someone to whom the puppies/kittens are nearly children, and who screens potential buyers as closely as an adoption agency. When people truly understand how much work goes into raising puppies, the market for puppy mill/farm animals will dry up.

    It is a tough problem. But slapping band-aid legislation down to arbitrarily restrict rights is not the way to fix it.


    PS. Sally: shipping puppies is very common, and if the animal is healthy and well adjusted (which includes being crate trained prior to departure) the flight should be a mere blip in the many wonderful experiences of puppyhood. If your niece was not able to pick up her puppy in person, how do you think the breeder was supposed to deliver it to her? She could have flown out to the breeder (which is a good idea--allows you to have a look at the pups and conditions and gives you a last chance to back out if things are not up to standard) and taken the pup back in cabin. It often is cheaper for pups to fly in cabin accompanying a passenger, but that's not always possible.

    When live cargo is being shipped, the cargo hold is pressurized, and airlines will not fly animals when the outside temperatures are too hot or too cold.

    Thousands of dogs and puppies are shipped every day and most of them have no lasting issues resulting from the experience. I'm sorry if your niece's puppy found the trip stressful, but don't automatically blame the breeder.

  12. Ziggy

    Unfortunately, we live in a world where people want things NOW and don't want to wait.
    Getting a puppy from a respectable breeder, or a rescue, takes waiting and patience and time. Whereas people can just pick up a puppy the same day by using these 'concentration camp' style puppy mills.
    You only have to look at the pet shop ndustry; how many people who vocally oppose puppy mills will still go out and buy a pet rat or hamster or rabbit from a pet shop? These shops get their animals from big rodent breeding mills, where the conditions are as bad, or worse, than any puppy mill.
    But people will boycott puppy farms while simultaneously supporting pet shops. They don't seem to see how its the exact same thing.
    But it all comes down to people wanting immediate gratification. I think you should be prepared to, and happy to, wait for the right animal. I have zero problem going through the home checks, forms to fill in, and sometimes month long waits to get the right pet. But when I worked in vet nursing, the number of puppies that came in where the people had just picked them up from an ad in the paper, or from some BYB, was horrendous. A lot of these people would be mortified to think they were supporting puppy mills by getting dogs from these sources, so a lot of it is ignorance too.
    Its sad, but at least awareness is improving, both regarding puppy mills and other farmed animals like pet rodents. I still think it'll be a while before we see major improvements though ;( As long as there is a market, they'll keep selling <:(

  13. Astrid

    Awesome blog! I worked for puppy mill rescue in NC a few years ago and know first hand the misery this causes. Actually our case was the precedent setting Woodley case of Sanford NC. People whonippose this legislation disgust me!

  14. Gill Bray

    Victoria - thanks so much for your efforts in this regard. As you say, you do shoot straight from the hip (sorry to use that analogy especially when we're talking about the NRA) and as a fellow Brit and dog trainer in North Carolina, it is extremely refreshing. I did see something recently about the puppy mill bill having failed here but I certainly wasn't aware of why. I won't get into the 'politics' but suffice to say I will now be on the look-out for any updates or signs that the bill may be raised again (or whatever the terminology is). I think Donna in Iowa has a very good point about why the Pork Council may be involved, and as my husband pointed out, it seems that there are, very often, items tacked onto Bills that have little to do with the actual Bill itself, but which someone may object to - I believe it's termed 'pork barrel legislation'!!!!! I have a friend who works for the local Humane Society and is working on "Laws for Paws" - I'll try to find out what's happening.

    If anyone's interested, we did have signed into law by the Governor last week, Susie's Law which (from December) will now give jail time to animal cruelty offenders - I'm sure if you Google it, you can read the whole story - it's a very good read. (I wish I could 'link' to it but I'm afraid I'm not that clever 🙂 )

    Keep up the good work and if I can do anything to help, please let me know. I'm also a member of APDT.

  15. Nicole

    Oh how I wish i could be right next to you Victoria and fighting just as hard for the rights of animals. It is a shame how backwards the priorities are of the people who can actually change what is happening. From elderly abuse to child abuse and neglect to animal rights... But heaven forbid we make guns, cancer causing tobacco or slaughtering sick diseased animals illegal. I am with Sally and will spread a Live petition around. I am going to start one on facebook.

  16. [email protected]

    Wow! That was one of the best articulated arguments I've seen for abolishing puppy mills and the organizations that oppose it from happening (I watch your show, however, so I am not surprised!).

    And while I can empathize with your goring of the NRA and the Pork Council, let's not overlook the politicians that succumbed to those organizations and chose staying in office over doing the right thing.

  17. Steve McDonald

    I back Victoria's comments 150%. But don't think you need to look at North Carolina for animal injustice. Look to see what your state does to protect domesticated animals and what regulations are in place regarding puppy mills in your own state. I'll bet there's room for improvement all over the US.
    Steve McDonald - Seattle, WA

  18. celia

    here's the thing though..not all people who have more than fifteen intact (intact does NOT equal breeding animal)animals are puppy mills. its draconian to want them to pay all kinds of registration fees and submit to government scrutiny right alongside the bad guys.

    i would've been against it on those grounds as a resident of North Carolina. not because i condone the abuse of animals but because i abhor legislation that has the real potential to group the innocent in with the guilty and that provides legal precedence for far more draconian measures.

    if they really want to stop mills, pass laws directed at MILL CONDITIONS SPECIFICALLY. not just "people with more than x amount of intact animals". Strengthen the current law regarding the conditions the dogs can be kept in. Most of the law we already have in place would suffice if it had more...well frankly...had a bit more in the way of balls,,

  19. John Simms

    Yes it's mind boggling. Stuff like this happens all of the time here in America. I can't figure it out. Some people just don't have any empathy for their fellow living creatures. Some people think if anyone cares for the well being of animals it's a sign of weakness. I can't stand people who are cruel to animals.

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  21. Matt Slawson

    I'm VERY dissapointed in any "legitimate" breeder who opposes cracking down on puppy mills. I had a White German Shepard Dog for years that came from a respectable, conciencious breeder. I cannot see any real threat to above board breeders here. All of the other dogs I've had in my life, including the one who is enriching my life right now, have come from places that could no longer care for them. Your spot on when you say that opponents of ending this cruelty "Exposing" themselves. This is the moment of truth. Motivations, honorable or dishonorable, are now coming to light. The spotlight this issue brings will be telling. Blessings, Matt

  22. Susan


    Welcome to NC old school politics. And thank you for helping spread the word. I posted a similar challenge to the opposition to this bill but to a much smaller audience than what you have. Thank you for this post!

    We'll be back next year and I think that because of the publicity surrounding the opposition to ths bill we stand a much better chance.

    Please stay informed: http://www.ncvaw.org (NC Voters for Animal Welfare)

  23. Susan

    PS Angela-

    There is no SPCA or Animal Control coming in to check out the puppy mills. That is the entire point of why reform is needed. I don't know where you heard that myth, but trust me, it's a myth.

    This year's bill was sponsored by a formerly in-the-dark legislator who saw the horrors of a puppy mill raid firsthand. Once you do, you get it. Period.

    Folks who ethically care for their animals have nothing to worry about. So the "regulation won't solve the problem" argument doesn't fly here either. It won't solve the problem completely, but at least it's much further along the path than we are here now.

    I wish that we didn't need more legislation either and everyone would do the right thing on their own. But we don't.

  24. Madison Wailer

    I'm only ten and I want the best for every dog in the world. I want every single one I see but my mommy says no agian and agian. I always say '' When you do good things, it will always come back.'' and that always happened to me. I think you've always done good. You are the smartest and nicest people ever and
    you will always be remembered. One or two more things, that is my mommy's email and tell me some of your hair tips becuase you have very pretty hair and I have long hair to. I donate mine to the locks of love. The hair you're person thing cuts they send it to a place were they make to give to children who have had kemo treatment and are bald. I raelly hope you read this becuse your a good person who cares about other living things like me. Not very many people care about them like you do and I've wanted to be a dog but I'm not so picture my self as one.

  25. Madison Wailer

    Dear, Victoria

    I'm only ten and I want the best for every dog in the world. I want every single one I see but my mommy says no agian and agian. I always say '' When you do good things, it will always come back.'' and that always happened to me. I think you've always done good. You are the smartest and nicest person ever and
    you will always be remembered. One or two more things, that is my mommy's email and tell me some of your hair tips becuase you have very pretty hair and I have long hair to. I donate mine to the locks of love. The hair you're person thing cuts they send it to a place were they make to give to children who have had kemo treatment and are bald. I raelly hope you read this becuse your a good person who cares about other living things like me. Not very many people care about them like you do and I've wanted to be a dog but I'm not so picture my self as one.

  26. Tricia Lucas

    Thank you for your support and your voice on this cause. You were an amazing speaker at Raleigh NC's PMAD event in May. You speech was Very Very powerful and I am so grateful to have your support. Thanks in advance for your continued support. We absolutely have to get this bill passed. My group is motivated to continue the fiight and look forward to the day we know we made a difference.

  27. Jennifer Rayos

    Thank you Victoria for this article. I met you at the Puppy Mill Art Auction at the SPCA in Raleigh. The stories of each of the puppy mill survivors touched my heart that night. Thanks so much for using your celebrity voice to raise awareness to the plight of each of the dogs we met that night and the many many others who have still not escaped the puppy mills.

    I love my home state of North Carolina and I am appalled that the Puppy Mill Bill was shut down but the Pork Council and other powerful groups in our area. We plan to be back next session and we will keep fighting until we have shut down these horrible places. Please stay in touch as we keep up the battle and fight for those who are unable to fight for themselves!

  28. Ann S. Preus

    I understand your frustration with the lack of understanding your state legislators appear to have about puppy mills and the power of the NRA and Pork Council. I am living in Florida and I have spoken to my state legislators many times on issues concerning children. I teach. I have come away many times frustrated, hurt and angry about the seeming lack of understanding amoung legislator on the need to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. This list includs children and animals. I have found though that they do respond when the numbers of e-mail, phone calls and public attention become uncomfortable for them. So good job of making people aware of this situation and let the e-mail, phone calls, and attention begin!

  29. John House

    @ Angela --

    The problem with your comment is that every single purebred dog in existence today started out as a mutt of some sort (and you might know that if you watched Dogs 101 in addition to Victoria's show). The immense variation in dog breeds is NOT truly "old" in terms of natural history at all, when you think about it in terms of evolution/selective breeding, etc. The Doberman has only been around since 1890:

    "The breed is believed to have been created from several different breeds of dogs that had the characteristics that Dobermann was looking for, including the German Pinscher, the Beauceron, the Rottweiler, the Thuringian Sylvan Dog, the Greyhound, the Great Dane, the Weimaraner, the German Shorthaired Pointer, the Manchester Terrier and the Old German Shepherd Dog. The exact ratios of mixing, and even the exact breeds that were used, remain uncertain to this day, although many experts believe that the Doberman Pinscher is a combination of at least four of these breeds."

    Thus, today's "designer mutt" will be tomorrow's "purebred". This is NOT to say that I agree with the trend of crossing "purebreds" with other "purebreds" to create a new breed, though...and I believe that there are enough dog breeds in the world (and enough "accidental" creations) that there comes a point where one has to say enough is enough and let's work to give the ones we have now a chance of survival through limited breeding and adoptions, since so many in the United States are euthanized because they cannot find homes.

    Having worked with a rescue, we got all kinds of dogs from the kill shelters in our area, some of them "purebreds". Two of my dogs are what you would consider "designer dogs" (a dorkie and a scottie-poo), but I didn't pick them because of their designer status; I picked them (actually, my dorkie picked the scotttie-poo for his brother/playmate) because they needed a home, I could give it to them, and they seemed to want to be with me. However it breaks my heart to know that literally thousands of dogs pass through one of the biggest kill shelters here in our area, purebreds as well, only to be euthanized.

    If there is any chance of any kind of regulation and oversight into breeding practices, states should accept it. Sorry, but I disagree with the Winogradian sentiment that there are enough homes for dogs/cats so that we can truly become a "no kill nation", because at this moment in time, there are some economic hardships people are facing, not to mention the fact that even the biggest animal lovers aren't allowed pets in their homes (apartments or condos, usually), and those who do love pets and are allowed pets already have them...and we can't just "make up" for the puppies and kittens that are still being born because people are desparate (backyard breeders who breed for money) or stupid (puppy millers who breed for money too, but on a much bigger scale and also sell them to pet stores). People are also stupid in that they have no clue how to train a dog, have never even heard of Victoria/any other good trainers, and end up sending an unruly pet to the pound/shelter where they either end up euthed or in otherwise unstable situations (passed from home to shelter to home to shelter only again, to be euthed)...or worse (abandoning the dog to fend for itself...which is what happened to our scottie-poo).

    I will support any legislation that will result in less death and suffering.

  30. Roni

    Hey Angela regarding your statement: "The puppy farms can and are checked out by SPCA/Animal Control for cruelty and inhumane conditions." If this were true, then we wouldn't be seeing these places in the news, being shut down because of an outside investigation, by someone other than the SPCA. "animals by the hundreds being rescsued only to have to be euthanized because of their poor health or inability to be socialized.,

    Reputable breeders have nothing to hide, unless they are doing something that is wrong and they don't want to be caught. Reputable breeders treat their animals more humane throughout the breeding, birthing and adoptive process.

    Puppy mills and kitten mills need to be eliminated. Dogs and cats are not money machines, they are living, breathing, and loving beings.

  31. Samantha Weissich

    We just had a puppy mill get busted, which made a lot of my coworkers very happy. The sad thing is the woman who was responsible for the conditions, upon interview said she didn't know what she was doing wrong. http://www.pet-abuse.com/cases/15993/CA/US/ is the article that tells more about the story.
    Also, in San Rafael, CA there is a place called the Pet Arcade, that still sells puppies in their store. Upon reading the reviews and seeing a few pass through my city, the pups look really unhealthy. I don't know why they are still selling them like profit, makes me question the over moral of the place.
    On one more not San Francisco, CA is considering a ban on live animals in pet-stores. This includes every animal except fish, and I think if it passes it will help so much with the pet population! More info here:http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-07-08/news/21941947_1_animal-control-pet-store-hamsters

  32. karin du Temple

    As Gandi said:

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
    ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    I can't think of a more true statement. These puppy mills need to be stopped now. Millions of dogs and cats are euthanized every year, and many very inhumanely. These animals give us so much and only want to be loved. We owe them this at the very least.

  33. Alex

    Celia--I suspect you do not completely understand the definition of the word draconian. In addition, your comment about regulation of puppy mills is not logical. Such legislation would not "group the innocent with the guilty" because we require a clearly defined definition fo exactly what a puppy mill is; puppy mills are not necessarily about numbers--they are also about conditions.

  34. Jillian

    Right on!

    If I was in charge of things, and msybe it is good that I am not, but people you subject dogs to these conditions, should have to experience it for themselves! Maybe they would think twice on how horrible they are as a human being.

  35. (Kings Valley) My Bonnie Prince Charlie

    I agree with the response written by John House. The Rough Collie is a mixture of many different types of dogs, most of which are "unknown".
    Had it not been for Prince's RESPONSIBLE, REPUTABLE breeder I would never have gotten him. I have never heard of ANY breeder who microchips their puppies in their name for the life of the dog. Prince's breeder does. I researched my breed choice; then I researched my breeders; then I VISITED those breeders I chose to get a puppy from. I chose LOCAL breeders so I could drive there, not only to get the puppy, but to see the conditions. One breeder I walked away from even though she kept pressuring me to get the one puppy that kept coming up to me. Yes, it was hard. I wanted to save at least ONE puppy. But I did not want to REWARD a bad breeder with bad breeding standards and in the process probably saved myself a lot of grief and money.

    A RESPONSIBLE, REPUTABLE breeder WILL take back the animal NO MATTER WHEN, AT WHAT AGE, OR THE HEALTH CONDITION(S). The Money Maker is totally unconcerned about the animal OR you as purchaser. See if there is a return clause in the paperwork BEFORE you sign anything.


    You'll be much more happy if you do.

    PS- Prince was owner surrendered back to his breeder. Now he lives with me and is my Service Dog.

  36. carole

    if you don't buy them they won't supply them, educate, inform. Make it fasionable to have a rescued dog from the pound. Puppy mills need to be against the law period!

  37. Patty Shenker

    Raised in one of the largest puppy mill states,Missouri, I have been aware & fighting these outrageous breeding facilities for many years. Here in California, our legislators approved a puppy mill bill which would have reduced their facilities' capacity to hold so many. Unfortunately, the Governator didn't care about these poor animals nor the tremendous cost to our state of California which is in a terrible fiscal position. However, because of the moral & economic devastation because of these puppy mills and overbreeding, these bills will pass & puppy mills will cease to be as they are now. On my blog, pattyshenker.com, I wrote an article- Loving our Pets to Death and it talks about a lot of this. The animal abuse industries- agriculture, vivisection, NRA, and the pet breeders all work together to fight any pro-animal bills because they see them as "a slippery slope" to the end of their abusive industry. There are many of us who can't tolerate the cruelty inflicted on animals and we are growing. Keep fighting those puppy mills in your state; it's time to turn our shelters back into "shelter", not killing floors and to stop this overbreeding of "man's best friend!" They certainly deserve better!

  38. Cathy Casper

    I am from North Carolina. I watched this intently. It meant a lot to me. Was part of a puppy mill bust here in my hometown of Sanford, NC. 325 dogs taken off of a 2.5 acre lot within the city limits. It was brought on by a lawsuit filed, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) vs. Barbara Woodley using a quirky NC law. We won the lawsuit and the dogs' custidy was turned over to us. We set up a shelter. She appealed so the judge said that the custody would remain with us but we could not alter the dogs in any way. We set out to find foster homes for the poor things so that they could transition from being breeders to comapanion animals. I cannot begin to tell you the horrors we found concerning the dogs. I could make a huge, long laundry list here. Suffice it to say that every horror you have EVER heard about puppy mills is absolutely true. Slowly, with help from wonderful volunteers and carinf vets, the dogs began to recover.

    We won the appeal and the Supreme Court of NC refused to hear the case. All the dogs found some form of adoptive situation, the most common being a family home. The bust was a total success. But, it is only one puppy mill in NC. I washoping that the law would take care of all the others. Cannot believe it didn't pass! Cannot believe those against it. You would think the AKC would be concerned at the number of ill bred dogs being turned out at these puppy mills, but no. Too scared their licensed breeders might fall into that category,so the whole bill had to be scrapped. The NC Pork Industry was afraid that HSUS, who was behind the bill, would then turn their attention to the pork industry and well they should. The pork industry polliutes our state with their lagoons for waste and treats their pigs and hogs horribly. I have stopped eating pork because of this. The NRA really amazed me. Again, like the AKC, if the breeders of sporting dogs are doing the right thing, they had nothing to fear from this law. I do have a story about hunting dogs though. Maybe later. Another opponent and I don'tknowwhy, was Farm Bureau. Still scratching my head over that one. But, moredisappointing was how the legislators let these lobbyists influence them more than the plight of the dogs in puppy mills.

    The fight must go on.

  39. Kat

    I have actualy made phone calls into a location that I have personally seen the conditions and the animals. They are not put in cages, but to me it is still a puppy mill. The dogs are all boxers which as many know some breeds given the right lifestyle can be very unpredictable. These dogs are very vicious because they are only socialized with the breeder herself. They see no one else. They stay outside in large pens, several dogs in one pen. They are brought into her bedroom for two reasons, one for breeding and the other for giving birth. On several occasions the breeder has had around 40 puppies and up to 12 adult dogs in the one room with her. They constantly fight with eachother from a lack of socialization and room to seperate in the bedroom. When the dogs misbehave they are squirted in the face with undiluted vinigar. Many occasions the dogs have had serious injuries and instead of going to the vets office it has been sewn up at home. She administers medication meant for one dog to every dog that she owns if she thinks that they may be sick. With out knowing what is actualy wrong with them. On one occassion that I was there she had one of her females go into labor. She had a court date unrelated with the dogs, so she put some one else in charge to watch the female. She neglected to tell them that the dog had been pushing on a puppy for 4 hours already and she didn't return for another 3 so by then the dog had been pushing for seven. I was asked to help pull the puppy out, which I'm sure you can guess was dead at that piont. The dam was bleeding profusly at this time, but she still would not take her to the vet. She was to tired to push out any other puppies. We had to manualy pull two more before she finally agreed to take it to the vet. The dog had a cesarian and had 3 more pups. She refused to have the dog spayed at that time even though she is 6 years of age and starting to have issues during the birthing process. I have witnessed the person that helps her with the dogs hit them. I was asked to take some of the dogs from the property at one point because she was affraid she was going to get into trouble. I took 8 adult boxers, and three mastiffs. One mastiff was pregnant and gave birth to 12 pups which were born on the floor of her house the night before i was to leave. They all died with in the week but one. The floor was filthy with urine and stool from other dogs. I rehomed every dog that she sent with me. All had to be socialized and go to completely seperate homes due to they had a pack mentality. They could not go to a home with any other pets. One of the adult mastiffs died the next day after arival due to the helper she had hitting her in the head when she didn't listen and basically she ended up with a brain hemorrage and died.
    I tried to call the state they live in to find out how to report it and no one seemed to know what to do or even act like they cared. What are people supposed to do about situations like that. When you just can't get any kind of help at all.

  40. Mellinda

    Victoria u are my idle im only 17 but i also help make a differance i work at a nearby shelter and raised 3 dogs that were found in a puppy mill. Thanks. your a hero.

  41. Denise Vermiglio

    I adopted a puppy mill puppy. He is a Westie and he turned 2 in November 2009 I took him in October 2009. He is a very loving and playful puupy who has great trust in me already and has opened up a lot since I first got him. his only problem is getting him to be able to be around my family and friends without being so afraid that he shakes and pees when someone other than me tries to approach him. My daughter also has an adopted dog who is much larger than mine and she tries to heard him when ever they are together and we are trying desperiatly to stop this action. Buddy, my westie is my best friend but he needs a little more work on socialization and I am not sure how to go about it properply given his past. Thanks for ant tips you can send me my e-mail is [email protected]

  42. Steve

    We're going through the same thing now in Missouri. Missourians for the Protection of Dogs started a grassroots effort to get an statute on the November ballot. They had enough signatures, but HJR 86 was introduced to stop the bill from being voted on, essentially taking away the right to petition the government and killing the proposed initiative .Fortunately HJR 86 failed and the initiative is still on the ballot.

    As in North Carolina, a lot of people are saying this is a plot build up to the meat producing industries. Considering one of Missouri's largest industries is beef production (last I heard we were the third largest producer in the country) this is absurd at best.

    I would love to see you, Victoria, come to Missouri in support of our efforts like you did in North Carolina, but more importantly, I hope to make people, particularly Missourians, aware of what is going on and what we're trying to accomplish.

    I am not affiliated with Missourians for the Protection of Dogs except as a supporter. That said, more information is available at http://www.missourifordogs.com/

  43. Charlie

    It is very unfortunate that some organizations have gained great power. It's amazing that many of these organizations have such a following of idiots and morons! the NRA was proud to have a senile Charlton Heston as president . Hello your proud to have an Alzheimer's patient who doesn't know what day it is, to be the head od the NRA! These people are scary and they carry guns! I'm not surprised that these simpleton's stopped the bill they are as anti government as you can get. As far as the pork council, well I guess they are suffering from tricanosis from their tainted

  44. Camber

    Victoria, you are so incredably inspirational and awesome! I completely agree with you about this situation, and it seems as though "some people" are superfluously paranoid about the passing of a bill that would lead to a breakthrough in the fight against animal abuse. The current number of animal abuse cases and animals in shelters nearly causes me to burst into tears, I wish I could do something; however, it also lightens my spirit to know that there are many people out there who can and are trying to make life better for all the animals out there that need our help, like you Mrs. Stilwell.
    Currently my father is engaged to a very nice lady with two dogs, Budha, a bulky boxer whom she rescued off of the street as an emaniated young pup; as well as Willow, a- well we're not sure,she might be a boston terrier/ italian greyhound mix, whom she adopted. Before we met her, we already had a puppy by the name of Cookie, a labrador- possibly huskey mix that we got from someone at Dad's work who was irresponsibly handing them out at six weeks and for some reason hadn't spayed her dog.
    Right now we all live in the same house, and all three bark insanely at anything, and especially anyone that goes past the house. Willow is the worst, she barks more louder and more vicious then the other two and never stops yapping when a visitor comes through the door, we either have to take her into another room or talk outside. She'll back away if the person comes near, but keeps barking .
    Cookie has to stay in her crate during the day even though theres a doggy door because when we leave her out with the other two Willow ends up with owies.
    Budha is really bad when we leave them alone also, but for a different reason. He will get into any food you have out in the kitchen, last week he devoured four boxes of samoas(you know the coconut chocolate girl scout cookies) and he was throwing up all over the place, poor guy. Though both Cookie and Budha will try to get into the trash,and take food off counters, but Budha is the one out when we aren't there.

    At my mother's house we have a three year old english bulldog named Booger who unfortunately has gone through some trauma due to bad decisions on my mother's part and has territorial issues with other dogs. He will attack other dogs, so far it has only been other males, but it's really, really scary when he does. The dogs he has attacked have been my mother's evil boyfriend's dog, Bruno, who lives at her house as well, and Budha, when we had to keep him over at Dad's house one time. It's a shame too, because he's usually such a nice puppy. Currently my mother's boyfriend is forcing Booger to be an outside dog because he snores, which I'm sure you know is very dangerous for an English Bulldog, and most of the time they forget to fill up the water bowl. The reason he's outside is absolutely ridiculous as well.

    If you have any suggestions on how I could improve our dogs' behavior I would very much appreciate it, though I won't be able to get to Booger for a while yet. I suppose this kind of strayed from the subject of your blog though, sorry. Puppy mills are evil!

  45. Camber

    Oh, and I'm 14 years old and I love your television show! I wish I could work at an animal shelter, but I wouldn't be able to drive there. It must feel really good helping all of those dogs! Thank you for reading this!

  46. sara

    I'm your biggest fan ever!!! I live in Atlanta and don't have a dog, but I make my kitten make up for that. I am 11 years old and I trained my cat to walk on a leach when I was 10. I take her for walks in the dog walking area and she loves it. At night, she cries to be let out at the door. She also cries at the door when I go out. Her name is May Violet and we love watching every single episode together. I'm going to be you for Halloween this year. Please give Sadie a pat for me! : )

  47. OhioRuthie

    I had a puppy mill breeder during the last years of her life. She came from one of the worst puppy mills in the midwest. She lived through hell but I could just feel the love ooze from her...she was so full of love..when she learned to trust me it was amazing. She died this year I'm grateful I had her more years than the number of years she was in the mill...she was five when she was released from the mill...I had her til she was 12. I miss her like crazy....she was a beautiful maltese. Thanks for the work you do Victoria!

  48. Mona

    Victoria, congratulations on taking a stand. There is no valid excuse for puppy mills. A good reputable breeder will not only limit the breeding, but be thorough in the adoption process, assure the new "parents" are suitable and offer a health guarantee and have a vet history. Then there are the many many rescue groups and humane societies who have picked up the lost and forlorn, those that "didn't work, didn't fit in, didn't look right, name it...excuse it...the rescues are there to hold those that weren't held elsewhere. Our best friend is education, education,education. The general "Jane or Joe" has no idea what is really out there in the land of animals/breeding/rescues or shelters. Rescues are full of purebred dogs breeds...many by puppymills and others USE who use the term purebred - with or without "papers." You can find a breed specific rescue anywhere and of any breed. SHIPPING a dog or cat ? If you want a specific breed, YOU go get the animal, why should it be shipped to you ? This is not a coat or a piece of furniture. With the rare exception of a "escorted" transport...which is totally different. If you want a dog...(or any animal) do your research and do NOT buy the "cute puppy in the window"....

    Dogs are shipped by air conditioned semi's...to your local pet stores. Sometimes, the A/C gives out...and when is it found ? Much too late. These are our FRIENDS let's treat them like they are our friends.

    After more than 50 rescues (ONE BREED) in our home, we have three RESCUES (2 non breed and 1 specific breed) of our own...two rescued from adoptions that were made from "designer" breeders (who coined that term anyway?) and one from our own rescue group. Issues?! Yes. All originally adopted by "loving" parents" that were not throughly checked....fortunately, we found them through rescue, expected nothing but love from them and love them more than they do us (I think!) The are stable, happy and healthy but will always have issues ...

    Everyone - really look at your community....look again...you will be amazed, surprised and disappointed ... help us help the furkids

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