National Puppy Mill Awareness Day
“Do not listen to blatant lies from pet stores selling puppies,” says Victoria Stilwell, former host of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog,” and spokesperson for National Puppy Mill Awareness Day, which is Sept. 27. “Obviously people are unaware that pet stores, flea markets and many websites sell puppies from puppy mills, as no self-respecting breeder will ever sell to a pet store.”
Cari Meyers co-founded The National Puppy Mill Project last year after she established a similar local nonprofit in Chicago. “Clearly, there is a need,” she says.
“Obviously, with as much press as we think we’ve done, people are mostly oblivious as they still don’t know about the realities of where puppy mills sell dogs,” Meyers adds. “National Puppy Mill Awareness Day is also a way to honor the mother and father dogs used for breeding until they are no longer able to (breed).”
“In a way the puppies are the lucky ones,” Stilwell says. “Those puppies who make it out and aren’t too sick or are treated, and who don’t have behavior problems may survive and live in a loving home. I’ve been on a puppy mill raid, I saw for myself a massive pit out back used to deposit the dead breeding dogs after their usefulness is over; these breeding dogs at the puppy mills are usually drown or clubbed to death or shot.”
It’s a reality that’s so hard to believe goes on in a dog-loving country — many people simply choose not to believe the truth.
“I ask myself all the time, why we allow this,” Meyers says. “It’s complicated. First, so many dog-lovers are uninformed.”
Many informed people feel that by “rescuing” a dog from a pet store, they’re doing the right thing. “Oh the puppy mills love you for that,” Stilwell says. “Playing on emotions makes them richer.”
And it is ultimately all about the dollar. “It’s big business really,” Stilwell adds.
Overseeing these large-scale, pet-breeding facilities is the job of the State Departments of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the local farm bureaus. “Dogs, and also cats and rabbits, aren’t farm animals,” Meyers adds.
She argues the wrong bureaucratic organizations are providing oversight in the first place.
“Of course, so many lobbyists are involved in all this, including those for the pet store industry,” says Meyers. “The truth is that most pet stores do quite well without selling dogs, cats or rabbits.”
Meyers has no problem with small-scale family breeders, and those who do the right thing by the animals and Stilwell agrees.
Stilwell says that many dogs sold from puppy mills online, at flea markets or in pet stores will soon turn up sick or have behavior problems, which ends up costing “thousands of dollars.”
“The best way to purchase a dog is in person,” says Stilwell. “See mom yourself, and get a feel for her temperament. See if she appears to be a good representation of the breed. Walk around the property. Paperwork should include proof of health tests applicable for the breed and a guarantee that if you have a problem you can return the dog.”
There’s no such guarantee when you buy a puppy from a pet store, except some states do have lemon laws. The laws mandate that under certain circumstances, (which vary from state to state), the pet store must take the dog back and return the purchase price. Of course, it rarely happens because people fall in love with their new family member. For dogs that are returned, Stilwell wonders what happens to them.
“They’re sick usually or have behavior problems or both, so they’re not likely re-sold,” she says. “I don’t know what happens or where they go.”
Dealing with Internet sales is challenging, but the Puppy Mill Project — working with a variety of local and national animal welfare groups — has now helped conceive laws to limit pet stores from selling dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits) in over 70 cities across the U.S. and Canada, including Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, San Diego, Beverly Hills, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Albuquerque, NM; Austin, TX and Miami and Miami Beach, FL.
“It’s all about money over morals,” Meyers adds. “But this has got to stop.”
Events to help create puppy mills awareness are happening around the country, learn more HERE.
©Steve Dale Pet World, LLC; Tribune Content Agency