Don’t be fooled: the person or pet store you’ve chosen to buy your puppy from might be supporting the notorious puppy mill industry.
Puppy mills are breeding businesses that raise dogs in shockingly poor conditions. “Breeding stock” animals are caged and continually bred for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever becoming part of a family. After their fertility wanes, breeding animals may be killed, abandoned, or sold to another mill. The result of all this breeding? Millions of puppies, many with health and behavioural problems not easily seen at the time of purchase.
Here are seven ways you can take action to make a difference for dogs suffering in puppy mills:
1. AVOID BUYING AN ANIMAL AT A PET STORE
They may seem to know what they’re doing, but behind the friendly façade of pet stores often lies the ugly reality of these puppy mills. There’s only one sure way to combat the tragedy of mass breeding operations—don’t support them. No matter how cute the puppy in the pet store is, please don’t buy her. You may feel like you’re “rescuing” her, but in reality you’re freeing up space for another puppy mill “product” while supporting and encouraging an industry based on abuse.
Unless you personally visit the place where your puppy was born and raised—and where the puppy’s parents live—there’s no way to know that your puppy didn’t come from a puppy mill, no matter what a sales clerk tells you.
2. DON’T BUY ANIMALS ONLINE
Don’t believe everything you see online or in the classifieds—a world of cruelty might be lurking behind that cute little puppy picture. If you think you’ve found the perfect breeder on a website showcasing adorable photos, claims of how they cherish their “furry babies,” and promises that they sell exclusively to “qualified homes,” be on alert—such websites are among the newer scams that puppy mills are running. There’s no way to know whether you’re dealing with a puppy mill by simply looking at a website or talking to someone over the phone.
Selling online and through classified ads allows puppy mill operators to “cut out the middleman” and sell directly to consumers. It’s more profitable, and it is completely unregulated. Remember that puppy mills house their dogs in deplorable conditions and churn out puppies for quick sale and shipment. Don’t support this cruelty; always visit the breeder’s home and facilities and meet both parents of the puppy before you buy. But better yet, opt to adopt from a local shelter or rescue group.
3. OPT TO ADOPT
Shelters and breed rescue groups have many wonderful dogs available for adoption every day. Whether you want a puppy or a more mature dog, a purebred, hybrid or one-of-a-kind mixed breed dog, your shelter has the best selection of animals anywhere. And by opting to adopt, you will be saving a life.
4. SUPPORT PET STORES THAT DON’T SELL ANIMALS
Always shop at pet stores that have taken the ethical and humane decision not to sell animals. Many pet stores across the country offer all necessary supplies and accessories for your pets without profiting from the sale of animals that come from questionable sources.
5. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS
Contact your municipal, provincial and federal representatives and let them know that you’re concerned about the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and want the puppy mill issue to be a priority. Ask them to press authorities to make enforcement of animal welfare laws and regulations a top priority, with strong fines and penalties for breeders who don’t follow the law.
6. WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a great way to get the word out about puppy mills. Write your own version—a short, polite letter is most effective.
7. SPREAD THE WORD AND RAISE AWARENESS
Puppy mills exist because there is a demand for their “product”. Unfortunately, most people do not know they are encouraging puppy mills when they are acquiring a new pet. Inform others about puppy mills and the pet store/internet puppy mill connection by using social media or talking to your friends and family.