The term “puppy mill” applies to a kennel that confines dogs for the purpose of breeding and selling them for profit. The dogs, jammed inside overcrowded cages, rarely see daylight and often suffer from malnutrition, disease and deformities. Females are bred over and over again, and then euthanized when they can no longer bear puppies. The often sickly puppies are packed up and shipped as cargo to pet stores or sold online for hundreds of dollars.
Fortunately, many positive steps have been taken recently to help eliminate puppy mills.
- Pet store leases were not renewed late last year in 70 malls owned by developer Macerich. Only stores that offer rescued dogs may open locations in those malls.
- Similarly, Los Angeles may soon only allow the sale of dogs obtained from city shelters or rescues in retail stores. The city council is expected to vote on this proposal sometime this month.
- Facebook Marketplace began dropping ads for dogs sold from these breeding facilities earlier this year. “Most consumers are unaware they are perpetuating animal cruelty by purchasing a puppy online, and given the visibility of Marketplace on Facebook, this move has the potential to raise critical awareness about unscrupulous online breeders,” ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres stated.
- In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a change to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that would make dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies “sight unseen” either electronically, by mail or over the phone to be subject to the same regulations as wholesale dealers.
These steps seem to be working. After 44 years in the business, Kansas-based Lambriar Kennels, one of the largest puppy breeding facilities in the U.S., closed its doors in June.
Owner Roger Lambert told The Belleville Telescope, “When you couple the bad economy with increasing rules and regulations, and increased pressure from animal rights activists, well, it just got too hard.” He added that the number of these large facilities nationwide has shrunk from more than 100 to only three.
The ASPCA offers these ideas about ways you can do your part to help put puppy mills out of business:
- Don’t buy puppies from retail stores. You can sign an ASPCA pledge promising you won’t buy anything in stores that sell puppy-mill dogs.
- Don’t buy a puppy from an online seller – it could be from a puppy mill.
- Help pass legislation to improve the care of puppy-mill dogs. Write your local lawmakers and join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for updates on how to help.
Puppy Mill Awareness Day is Sept. 30. Check the Awareness Day website for scheduled events.