"Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures" – The Dalai Lama

For dog lovers around the world, one of the most frustrating and devastating realities we have to face, is that of the continued existence of puppy mills: large-scale breeding operations where the number one consideration is profit, instead of the well-being of dogs. Puppy mill owners resort to practices such as over-breeding and inbreeding, and their dogs are often subject to unsanitary conditions, hunger, sickness and a lack of socialization. It is hard to believe that many dogs in these mills spend almost the entirety of their lives in cramped cages, often with not enough food to get by, forced to churn out puppies shortly after every heat.

Puppy Mill Action Week is a yearly event organised by the Humane Society (HSUS) and celebrated around the world; scheduled on the Monday before Mother’s Day, its aim is to put an end to this cruel industry. From May 6 to 12, 2013, the HSUS carries out a series of events including competitions (last year there was a cool video competition called Why Puppy Mills Stink), rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of puppy mill owners and awareness events for the many people who don’t understand how, through a seemingly innocent act like buying a pup from a pet shop, the classified ads or the Internet, they could actually be promoting a lifetime of cruelty for that pup’s parents. In this post, we suggest a few ways you can do your share to put an end to puppy mills:

  • Take a brave stance: Visit your local pet shop and ask them to consider being part of the Puppy Friendly Pet Store initiative, which encourages them to stop selling animals and to support local adoption programs.
  • Get the press on your side: Write to your local newspaper editor and ask for their support. A friendly editor can back your cause by either refusing to advertise pet stores and puppy mill ‘for sale’ campaigns, or by writing informative articles on the conditions faced by dogs raised in puppy mills.
  • Hone your writing skills in guest blogs and websites: Check out animal blogs and offer to write a guest post; spread the word on puppy mills.
  • Advocate for Change: As part of National Puppy Mill Action Week, the HSUS will be hosting a web-based seminar on May 7th where they will inform and educate participants about the lives of animals in puppy mills, the most common problems inherent in these mass breeding facilities, and what can be done to address them. Participants will be given tools to report suspected puppy mills, and learn how to educate their communities about this form of animal cruelty. Learn more and register here.
  • Consider adopting a shelter dog instead of buying one: Did you know that between 5 and 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and that between 3 and 4 million of these animals are euthanized? Some 25 per cent of dogs admitted into shelters are purebred; this information may be of interest of you if you are particularly taken with one breed – indeed, there are many rescue societies that specialize in particular breeds.
  • If you do decide to buy a dog, make sure it is from a reputable breeder that conducts the relevant genetic tests for the particular breed (for instance, CERF eye exam, BAER auditory test and patella tests, etc. for Boston terriers – each  breed is prone to particular health problems which should be prevented to the extent they can through responsible breeding). Try to visit the breeder’s home to see the conditions their dogs are living in; see if the breeders seem to have a genuine interest in the pups finding a good home and if they offer to be available for any questions, even after they have sold the pup to you.
  • Be informed: The best way to stop the continuance of puppy mills is by arming yourself with information and sharing what you learn with as many people as you can by word of mouth and through social networks, blogs, comments on articles and posts, etc. Did you know that in addition to being cruel to the dams and sires, puppy mills are also cruel to the pups themselves? This is because the lack of proper husbandry practices that would remove ill dogs from breeding programs leads to puppies having a host of pre-existing, congenital and hereditary conditions you may remain unaware of until years later, when these diseases show up. If you have already purchased an animal from a pet shop, newspaper or the Internet, make sure to protect your pup and yourself with a good pet policy, since some of the diseases which often show up in these pups can be expensive to treat and require long-term care. These include epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, deafness, eye problems, respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders, etc.

Sadly, puppy mills cause problems that continue from generation to generation. If we all do our part - we can put a stop to them now, in our generation. Do you have a story or comment to share? Please leave us a message below! If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to "Like" us on Facebook too!