|photo courtesy of examiner.com|
Jupiter and I have been quite busy planning her big one-year adopt-a-versary celebration. I think that her idea of a most special day would be to take a mega-walk in the woods followed by a sweetly-frosted pink doggie cake—and there definitely has to be singing to maximize her enjoyment. All of this merriment got me thinking about my friends and neighbors who have added pets to their families in the last few years.
Thankfully, most people I know have adopted from animal shelters and have avoided buying dogs in pet stores or online where many puppies come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are horrible places where commercial breeders are most interested in producing large numbers of saleable pups, and less interested in the health and welfare of each animal. There are thousands of puppy mills across the country, each typically housing anywhere between ten and one thousand breeding dogs (although mills may also produce cats and rabbits, as well). The animals are often kept in overcrowded kennels or cages—which may be stacked upon other cages. Frequently, the conditions are unclean and most uncomfortable, with little protection from the elements. The dogs have almost no positive interactions with people and know humans only as providers of the most basic necessities—food, water, and shelter.
The existence that puppy mill animals must endure is quite unnatural and inhumane. Females that are kept solely for breeding purposes—like puppy producing machines—have little or no time to recover between litters. This makes for unhealthy and weak individuals, and these dogs are often euthanized instead of being put up for adoption, simply because it is easier and cheaper than taking proper care of them. Puppies are often separated from their mothers at a young age and do not have enough time to grow strong and learn proper socialization skills. Often, they have genetic problems and diseases because of inbreeding, as well as a host of illnesses, parasites, and poor temperaments. Many prospective families don’t notice these traits when they visit the pet store to choose their new pet. However, once they return home, they often quickly notice that something is wrong with their pet, and these animals may be returned to the pet store, surrendered at an animal shelter, or euthanized.
There is hope, however. With a good deal of publicity in recent years, puppy mills are being exposed for their cruel treatment. Outdated animal welfare legislation is being reworked to include the problems seen in puppy mills and animal sales over the Internet. Cities and towns across America—like Los Angeles—that have animal shelters brimming over with adoptable animals already, have begun to ban the retail sale of animals. Banning pet stores and Internet sellers from selling dogs will ultimately force the public to look to animal shelters and responsible breeders for our new pets.
Puppy mills are indeed a cycle of animal cruelty and should be stopped. Animals aren’t “things” ---they are living, breathing, feeling beings that shouldn’t be treated like merchandise. Hopefully, as more cities and towns begin to take notice, more legislation will be passed, and all animals will be given the healthy, safe, and loving start to life that they deserve.
Three things you can do:
1. Adopt! Never buy an animal from a pet store or the internet. When you are ready to add a new pet to your family, consider adopting from your local animal shelter. Animal adoption agencies have lots of wonderful animals, and many also end up with survivors of puppy mills. Consider adoption, and give a beautiful animal a second chance at a forever home.
2. Support Legislation Banning Retail Sales of Animals! Find out if your hometown or state has pending legislation; if not, write to your local and state officials explaining that you would like to see some! Voicing your opinions is what democracy is all about.
3. Read! There is a lot of information out there to take in. Get the knowledge you need, and help spread the word about puppy mills by educating others.