Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Getting a Pet and Puppy Mills

Our Jester dog
 I recently read Bones in Her Pocket by Kathy Reichs which addresses the horror of puppy mills. At the end of this novella, she included an exceptional letter about such mills. I am including her letter here, which I have already posted on my Facebook page, with her permission. Please read it and carefully consider where you get your next pet.

You Can Help Stop Puppy Mills

As a forensic anthropologist I’m daily faced with the malice humans cause one another.  As an owner of five rescue animals, I’m distressed by cruelty to all species.  Occasionally, these paths intersect.  Bones brought to my lab turn out to be a sackful of puppies, weighted down by a rock.  It’s hard for the heart to understand such brutality.  And nothing is more merciless than a puppy mill.

A puppy mill is defined as a ‘factory farm’ for dogs.  Some are legal and some are illegal.  Government regulation is lax, if it exists at all.  The ‘crops’ are raised in cages, often in the minimum legal space allowed.  Females are bred as frequently as possible, and discarded when no longer fertile.  It’s a life with no joy, no love, no hope.  The dogs are sick, starved, and sad.  They have never played on the grass.

Thousands buy dogs from puppy mills annually, most believing they are getting their pet from a responsible breeder.  Inhumane breeders owners seduce people into “puppy love,” either in pet stores or through online photos. The Humane Society estimates there are 10,000 puppy mills across the country.  Collectively, they sell 2 million to 4 million puppies nationwide each year from facilities where breeding dogs remain caged their entire lives, sustained solely to provide offspring sold for profit.  My home state of North Carolina is one of the worst offenders, with no state-required inspections and no laws governing breeders who sell to the buying public.

You can help prevent animal abuse.  Here are eight things you can do to stop the horror of puppy mills:

  • Adopt your next pet.  The perfect pet is waiting for you at one of the thousands of shelters and rescue groups across the country. If you want a particular breed, you can locate one by contacting a breed-rescue organization.
  • Don't buy a puppy online or from a pet store. If you buy a puppy, you’re most likely supporting the puppy mill industry.  If you must buy, please do your research to be sure your puppy isn’t from a mill.
  • Take action against pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs.  Ask pet store owners to consider switching to a humane business model. If the store refuses to change, hold a peaceful rally or written campaign in protest.
  • Advocate for stricter breeding laws. Write or call your city, county, state and federal officials and ask them to take these issues seriously. These communications influence legislators. To help change your city, county, and state laws, sign up to receive action alerts from Voices for No More Homeless Pets at yourvoice.bestfriends.org.
  • Speak out in your community. Write to the editors of newspapers and local news about puppy mills that keep their animals in unacceptable conditions.
  • Elect animal-friendly candidates. Ask candidates if they support regulating commercial breeders and what they would do about puppy mills.  Let them know you support stricter puppy mill regulations and you vote.
  • Raise awareness and/or donations.  Organize a walk, conduct a bake sale or car wash, or set up a table at local events to raise awareness and funding for animal rescue and breeding regulation.
  • Don't give up. The fight against puppy mills and inhumane breeders has been going on for decades.  Things won't change overnight, but we’ve seen progress. If you educate just one person about the horrors of puppy mills or convince just one person to adopt rather than buy a pet, you've made a difference.

Having a pet is a great thing! We love our cats and dogs. My family adopted our dog through a shelter to be an emotional support animal for my husband. We'd have taken his brother, too, if we could have afforded it or had the room. Our cat was adopted from a friend of a friend because her owner was moving out of the country and didn't have time or money to do the necessary paperwork to take her beloved animal with her.

As many of you may know, Jester was hit by a car about a year ago. Thanks again to all of you that helped with his emergency vet bills, you will never know how much it meant to us.

My husband and I have only ever bought one pet, that was our first cat. All of the rest of the animals that we have had, have been adopted. Most of these were through acquaintances that just wanted the animal to have a good home with loving people. When we had to leave a pet behind in a move, we've always made sure to find them a home rather than take them to a shelter (adult animals are too hard to adopt).

The point of all this is that when you are looking for a pet, you should adopt rather than buy. There are many animals in need of homes, if homes aren't found for them, they are put down. If you must buy PLEASE do in-depth research on who you are buying from. Most breeders are puppy mills, they are in it for the money, it's BIG business. I am adding my voice to Kathy Reichs, research, speak up, speak out, and adopt first!

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