Happy New Year to you! In honor of this new year I have a rather bold request to make of y’all (having lived in the south now for more than a year I’ve earned the right to use this expression). I ask that you add a new line item to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and it goes something like this:
Before the end of 2013, I resolve to do at least one thing to help eradicate puppy mills!
For those unfamiliar with the term “puppy mills” (aka, commercial breeding facilities) they are dog breeding operations in which the health and physical and psychological well-being of the dogs are disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits. In spite of this grim definition, there are more than 4,000 licensed puppy mills operating within the United States. And there is no telling just how many unlicensed puppy factories are in operation.
Business is booming for puppy millers because people continue to willingly purchase puppies from pet stores. Retail pet stores sell more than 500,000 pups a year, ninety-nine percent plus of which are born in puppy mills. The other source of income for puppy millers is their Internet “livestock sales”. Their attractive websites entice unwitting individuals to purchase puppies site and sight unseen.
Your New Year’s Resolution
What are you willing to do to help eradicate puppy mills? Here are some ideas to consider:
- If you’ve been purchasing products from a pet store that sells puppies, immediately stop and desist! Put the icing on the cake by having a candid conversation with the store manager advising him or her exactly why you will be taking your business elsewhere.
- Take the ASPCA’s official No Pet Store Puppies Pledge stating that you won’t spend a single dime at a pet store that sells puppies. Tweet or blog about this pledge, post it on your Facebook page and share this with your dog-loving family and friends.
- Educate others about how to avoid a puppy mill purchase. Encourage potential adopters to work through shelters, rescue organizations, and/or reputable breeders.
- Be a voice of change within your community, particularly if you live in a state where puppy mills are thriving (Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas, to name a few). Attend an organized rally (consider organizing one yourself), sign a petition, and write letters to your legislators.
- Volunteer some time with an organization that provides rehabilitation, foster care, and placement of adult dogs who have been rescued from puppy mill breeding programs.
- If you have cared for a puppy mill dog, share your story with others. Talk and write about your experiences. Share your story with the ASPCA where it will be shared with others.
Thank you for letting me “butt in” on your list of New Year’s resolutions. Please share what you hope to do in 2013 to help eradicate puppy mills.
Wishing you much good health and happiness throughout this new year,
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.