All animals face abuse. Farm animals, exotic animals and domestic animals. I want to focus on a huge industry that is inhumane and that we have all probably supported once in our lives: puppy mills.
A puppy mill is a breeding operation where profit is the primary purpose as well as priority over the health and well-being of the dogs. They mass produce puppies and kittens and raise them in filthy and crowded conditions. Many of them live in wire cages and have no room to stretch even their tiny legs. A jail cell looks like a mansion compared to the cages these puppies and kittens have to live in. They all experience emotional and physical suffering. The parent animals are objects; they receive no human contact or care. “Female dogs are bred twice a year and are usually killed or abandoned when they are no longer able to produce puppies.” Veterinary care is not a necessity in puppy mills.
The puppies and kittens are usually bred by people who are not licensed to breed and uneducated about genetics. They do not care about the quality of breeding, only the quantity. This is why most animals sold in pet stores are sickly looking and often come home with diseases and even die at young ages.
These factories ship their puppies and kittens to the pet stores around the country. We drive by them every day, and may even visit them every so often. I know it can be hard to resist going into pet stores to look at and play with the cute puppies, or even bringing one home (trust me, I know the feeling). My favorite place when I was younger used to be any pet store I could find. Any business that sold animals, was a happy business in my book. That is until I knew where the animals were coming from, how they were being treated, and why an industry like this existed.
On a positive note, banning the sale of dogs and cats from puppy mills is on the rise. Another reason to be excited for this movement is this list of states with local pet sale bans: New Jersey is LEADING the country!
Today, the ASPCA estimates that there are around 10,000 operating puppy mills in the United States. In the grand scheme of things this may seem intimidating, but animal lovers everywhere can be heard if we work together. Things that happen close to home, hit you harder. Last summer, a pet store called Pat’s Pets opened in Cherry Hill. Animal rights advocates protested the store for months with signs that read things like ‘A Pet Store Puppy is a Puppy Mill Puppy.’ After three months of not giving up, the owner closed down his business to transform it into an adoption center that only sells dogs from rescues and shelters.
Do some research and reach out to the mayor of your local town if there is not a ban in progress. Currently, I volunteer with an animal rights organization and we work towards urging counties in New Jersey to adopt an ordinance banning the sale of puppy mill puppies. I’m hopeful that once people educate their selves they will have the feelings I do as I know I’m helping future animals. The more pet stores that shut down, the higher the chance of people turning to shelters to rescue deserving animals, many of them who otherwise would be put down due to lack of space.