PAWS Magazine

Issue 72, Spring 2009

Buyer Beware

Puppies, as shown in photo, often live in deplorable conditions before arriving freshly bathed and groomed at a pet store
The cruel reality of puppy mills surfaced in our Puget Sound community this year as hundreds of dogs and puppies were rescued from deplorable conditions in Snohomish and Skagit Counties. Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce and sell puppies (or kittens) to unsuspecting consumers through pet stores, classified ads or over the Internet. These producers maximize profit by forgoing the animals' basic needs, allowing them to live in overcrowded, squalid conditions without proper veterinary care, shelter from heat or cold, or adequate food and water.

Unlike legitimate breeders who breed for temperament, good health and intelligence, puppy mills recklessly pass on to consumers animals with health and behavioral issues. Things may seem fine at first, but issues like congenital eye and hip defects, parasites or even the deadly Parvovirus may show up later. Because these animals often have had almost no human interaction and are taken from their mothers very early, they can also develop neurotic behavioral issues.

Of the 600, mostly small breed dogs that were rescued from Snohomish and Skagit Counties, several died from the cruelty they endured. This tragedy not only revealed flaws existing in state and county regulation and enforcement, but also placed a significant burden on community resources. For example, a recent puppy mill bust in Maine, where 249 animals were rescued, cost $440,000. The number of animals confiscated in the raids in Skagit and Snohomish Counties was almost double, putting a large financial burden on local agencies providing care for the animals while awaiting a legal resolution.

PAWS assisted our neighboring shelters who were housing the confiscated animals by taking in adoptable dogs who were already in these facilities, as well as stray animals. We continue to speak out against puppy mills and urged legislators in Olympia to pass legislation establishing humane requirements for large-scale breeding operations (read more on page 6).

How can you help protect dogs and cats from the horrors of puppy mills?

  • Adopt animals from a shelter or breed-specific rescue group near you—Did you know that typically 25 percent of the animals in shelters are purebred?
  • Support laws that protect animals from puppy mill cruelty—Tell your elected officials you support laws which cap the number of animals a person can own and breed, and establish standards of care for exercise, housing, access to food and water, and regular veterinary care.
  • Urge your local pet store to support shelters—Most pet stores that sell puppies and kittens are supplied by puppy and kitten mills. Encourage them to have shelter animals for adoption instead.
  • Donate pet supplies to local shelters to help those rescued from the puppy mills, and many other homeless animals in need.
  • Be a responsible consumer—If you do buy from a breeder, go to one who: gladly shows you where the dogs spend their time; encourages you to meet the puppy's parents; explains in detail the puppy's medical history and gives you their veterinarian's contact info; doesn't always have puppies available, but keeps a list of interested people; asks several questions of you about your lifestyle/family, why you want a dog, and what plans you have for training and caring for the puppy.

Learn more at stoppuppymills.org.

 

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