Preventing Puppy Mills
October 15, 2010 3 Comments
Preventing Puppy Mills – Blog the Change for Animals
This month, Richmond, B.C. became the first Canadian city to agree to ban the sale of dogs and puppies in pet stores. The by-law is expected to be finally adopted in November and take effect April 30, 2011.
While pet shop owners who financially benefit from these sales may not be impressed, this is an important step when taking action against puppy mills. We Canadians are actually behind our neighbours to the south in this respect, with many American cities having long ago banned the sale of puppies in pet stores, including cities in California, Florida, New Mexico and Missouri.
How does this help? Well, pet stores are just one of the many mediums through which puppy mills are able to sell their puppies. And I should note, there is a similar concern about “kitten factories”, as well. While many puppy mills still flourish through online sales, banning the sale of puppies in pet stores remains an important step in prevention and public awareness.
What is a puppy mill and why is it bad? Well, essentially a puppy mill (or kitten factory, for that matter) is a high-volume breeder. Dogs are bred in sub-standard and inhumane conditions, often in dirty, cramped kennels, literally living in their own feces. The parents (the “breeding stock”) experience zero socialisation with other animals or human beings, and are malnourished and over-bred. There is no concern for hereditary health conditions or inbreeding; the goal is to produce and sell as many puppies as possible. Look it up – horrors will make your stomach churn.
The products of these puppy mills – the puppies often seen in those pet store windows – are yes, an extremely sad case, but not an ideal pet. These puppies are taken from their mothers long before the recommended age of 8-10 weeks, to ensure they are still adorable for those window shoppers. This early removal results in numerous potential behaviour problems. In addition, the squalid conditions they are born in and the disregard for proper breeding standards often result in serious undiagnosed and hereditary medical health problems.
While bans like the one in Richmond do not completely prevent the problem, they are a significant step. They create awareness, put a dent in puppy mill sales, and often allow rescue organizations to fill the void and adopt out more dogs.
These bans also prevent the “impulse purchase” of companion pets, effectively – I believe – preventing many instances of bad owners and animal cruelty in private homes. Owners who did not properly think through their purchase and what they were getting into are a large supplier of rescue dogs in the first instance.
So what can you do? Lots!
1. Lobby your local government (i.e. city council) for bans similar to those in Richmond, B.C. Lobby your federal and provincial government for better regulation of commercial breeders and stronger animal cruelty laws.
2. If you’re considering a pet, look for a reputable breeder or seek out a rescue organization. Reputable breeders and many rescue organizations will make you fill out long applications and interview you before determining whether or not you’re a suitable candidate for one of their dogs. This is not a bad thing. If you’re not sure what to look for in a breeder, do some research. There are lots of helpful resources out there.
3. In addition to not buying from a pet store, avoid the other mediums for puppy mill sales – largely the internet and newspaper ads. Be aware of pets sold through Kijiji and similar websites, and always insist on making a location visit prior to picking up your new family member. Ask to meet the puppy’s parents. If they are willing to give you your puppy prior to it turning 8 weeks old (at minimum), walk away. There are lots of puppies out there in need of a good home.
4. Don’t support pet stores that sell companion animals. At all. Many pet stores opt to feature pets from local shelters, or just sell supplies – this is great! Give your business to them.
5. Speak up! If you suspect a puppy mill, report it. The Humane Society of the United States actually has a toll free number you can call to report suspected puppy mills: 1-877-MILL-TIP. Don’t let them go unreported. In Canada, make reports to your local SPCA or Humane Society. You can also report suspected cases of animal cruelty to your local Animal & By-Law Services.
Be the change for animals: http://btc4animals.com/
 For example: http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/puppy-mills/10-ways-you-can-help-fight.html