The holidays are just around the corner, and you know what that means! It’s “buy your children an adorable puppy and tie a ridiculously large red bow around its neck” season! While Found Animals believes that adopting a pet for Christmas can be a perfect holiday gift (with the proper amount of forethought, of course!), consider the following before you head down to the mall (or browse the internet) to find your new furry family member:
- According to the Humane Society of the United States, almost all pet store (and online) puppies come from puppy mills. However, as public awareness about the inhumane practices of puppy mills increases, many pet store operators are purposely deceiving potential buyers by telling them their pets come from reputable breeders.
- A recent HSUS investigation found that all 11 New York pet stores monitored purchased their puppies from large-scale commercial facilities, despite claims to the contrary.
- Generally speaking, puppy mill dogs are kept in filthy, cramped, and often inhumane living conditions. Dogs are often kept in cages so small they can’t even turn around. In some cases, females are bred non-stop until they are no longer able. At that time, they are often abandoned or left at animal shelters. (Not exactly the retirement you’d expect after a lifetime of hard work!)
- Due to the substandard conditions at many puppy mills, pets bought from pet stores (or online) often become sick within weeks (or even days) after purchase, and many pets die shortly thereafter. The frequency with which this occurs has led some states to pass “puppy lemon laws.”
- California’s puppy lemon law, the Polanco-Lockyer Act, states that a consumer who purchases a pet that becomes ill may return that pet for a refund, exchange that pet for another, or keep the pet and receive reimbursement for medical expenses paid for the pet’s treatment. Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are among the other states that have all passed similar laws.
What is being done?
You may find it surprising to learn that, in most cases, puppy mills aren’t actually illegal. While some of their practices may be illegal (and certainly immoral), most states allow for breeders to keep hundreds of dogs, provided that basic living conditions are met.
The Animal Welfare Act was passed by Congress in 1966 to outline minimum standards of care for commercial breeding facilities. While these standards apply to those facilities that breed or broker animals for resale, facilities that sell directly to the public (ie. online) are NOT subject to these standards of care. Unfortunately, history shows us that many breeders supposedly subject to the Animal Welfare Act still manage to get away with repeated violations and are rarely punished for failing to provide the required standards of care.
In light of increasing public awareness and outcry surrounding the truth behind puppy mill operations, many states are proposing (and in some cases, implementing) stricter requirements for the treatment of animals housed in commercial breeding facilities. For example, Nevada passed SB 299, which, effective October 1, 2011:
- prohibits wire flooring and stacking of cages
-requires breeders to provide for adequate shelter, food and water, and enough cage space for dogs to comfortably sit, stand, turn around, and lie down
-prohibits female dogs from being bred until they are 18 months old and not allow them to be bred more than once a year
While many states still have little to no laws regulating commercial breeding facilities, Nevada is just one example of a state that has passed legislation aimed at protecting our furry companions.
What can consumers do?
To put it simply, help put an end to the demand for puppy mill pets. Anyone who has taken an Econ 101 class knows that generally speaking, when demand decreases, so does supply.
Support the humane treatment of animals, and help put an end to puppy mills.
-Adopt, don’t shop. There are tons of great pets waiting for you at your local animal shelter. If you’re looking for a certain type of pet, visit the Adopt A Pet section of our website to see what’s available in your area!
-Check out a retail adoption site! Retail pet adoption stores (like our own Adopt & Shop) are another viable alternative to animal shelters. While not commonplace yet, many cities (Toronto, Glendale, and Irvine) are banning the retail sales of dogs and cats, opting instead to support the retail adoption model. These pets come from local animal shelters or rescue groups, but are made for adoption in a retail setting.
-Educate others about the source of pet stores & online pets, and encourage them to adopt their next furry companion.