Thinking about a new puppy?

This is one of my dogs, Pippa. She was born in an Amish puppy mill in Iowa and sold to a family thru a pet store. They surrendered her to Chicago French Bulldog Rescue and I was lucky enough to be chosen as her new mom.

The other day, a good friend of mine said she heard a commercial for a new website where you could buy puppies. The commercial said all their breeders were “good” breeders and maybe it might be a good place to look for a new puppy for her kids. My heart started racing. How do you tell a friend that those websites lie?

For a number of years, I’ve been volunteering my time to a cause that’s important to me… ending puppy mills. Most people think they’re against puppy mills but they really have no idea just how big of business it is and how the mills deceive buyers.

September is Puppy Mill Awareness Month. So, I thought I’d share some facts with you about this cruel industry and hopefully, if you’re thinking about a new dog, they will help you make better choices.

• Puppies sold in pet stores (not including those who work with rescues to showcase their available dogs) are from puppy mills. No reputable breeder would ever allow a third party to sell their dogs. If you ask a store where they get their dogs, they will tell you it’s from a USDA approved breeder. What they don’t tell you is that unless you’re a large breeder selling commercially, you do not need a USDA license. So USDA license is your first tip off that it’s a puppy mill.

• Websites that sell lots of puppies are also favorites for mills to sell their dogs. People have become accustomed to buying things online and unfortunately, that includes puppies. If a website will allow you to buy a puppy sight unseen, does not require a contract, does not provide health testing, will not allow you to visit the mother, has a shopping cart on their website and doesn’t care anything about you and the puppy’s new family…. you’re probably dealing with a mill or an unscrupulous backyard breeder. Walk away.

• Although puppy mills want you to believe they are really just “family breeders”, the fact is dogs are farmed and treated just like other farm animals. They are kept in cages all of their lives, get little or no vet care, no socialization and certainly no love. By buying a puppy from one of these breeding farms, you are encouraging the breeder to keep doing what they are doing. They only care about profit.

• One of the arguments I hear over and over again is people want to “rescue” the puppy from a bad situation, whether it’s in a pet store or a puppy farm. The truth is this is a huge business based on supply and demand. So every time someone buys a puppy, the mother dog is sentenced to another litter. The only want to stop them is to end the demand for their supply of puppies.

• Another question we get a lot is… why are puppy mills not illegal? The sad fact is the USDA treats dog farming just the same as pig farming. The dogs have very few protections and the government does little to inspect and protect the dogs. They really are on the side of the farmer, not the animal.

• With so many people owning and loving dogs, why is it so hard to get laws passed to protect them? That’s another question we hear all of the time. The fact is, big agriculture companies lobby Congress (federal and at the state level too) to ensure that laws that protect dogs in mills are defeated. They constantly talk about the “slippery slope” and how if the dogs are protected, pigs and cows will soon be next. They work with farming organizations to apply pressure and money to keep the status quo. It’s sickening but happens every time a state tries to pass laws protecting the dogs. They don’t always win, but they win a lot more than they lose.

If you’d like to read more about mills and what you can do, visit the website of the group I’m part of,

Next week… we’ll talk about how to ethically add a puppy to your family.

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