San Diego recently became the 32nd municipality in the United States to pass legislation that bans the sale of certain live animals in retail stores. The Animal Protection Ordinance will make selling dogs, cats and rabbits illegal in the city.
The law — hailed as a big win for animals — gave animal advocacy groups across the country cause for celebration. The focus of such groups was summarized by Gary Weitzman, CEO of the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition: “The whole point is to shut down puppy mills and encourage responsible breeding.”
Puppy Mill Hell
Most animal lovers and certainly many Pets Adviser readers are no doubt aware of the concerns regarding puppy mills — large-scale, commercial dog-breeding facilities operating solely for the profit of producing puppies for resale.
Commercial puppy mills are in business to maximize profits — period. They have no concern for the well-being of the animals they use for breeding. It is big, big business. As many as 10,000 unlicensed breeding operations exist in the United States.
Puppy mill dogs are housed in deplorable conditions. They do not receive adequate medical care, nutrition, housing, grooming, sanitation or socialization. Female dogs are bred at every opportunity with no time to recover between litters. They are dirty, malnourished and diseased.
This video shows several examples of puppy mill dogs before and after they were rescued:
When the female is no longer able to reproduce, she is killed. Male dogs suffer the same fate when they are too old or sick to sire. Some commercial dog operations have as many as 1,000 breeding dogs in production.
Puppy mills sell their “products” to consumers through a variety of networks. Online sales, flea markets, newspaper and magazine ads are popular sources, but by far the biggest channel for puppy mills is retail pet stores.
Some estimates suggest that 90-95% of puppy mill dogs are sold through retail pet stores! That is why animal protection laws like the one recently passed in San Diego are so important.
The Good Fight
Groups such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States have monitored the blight of puppy mills for decades. From public protests to petitions, these organizations work tirelessly to shut down irresponsible commercial breeders.
The methods of education, organization and legalization are proving effective as demonstrated in the 32 cities now banning the retail sale of animals. Success is measured one city at a time!
There are many great organizations dedicated to animal welfare and specifically to local animal protection legislation. The San Diego success story is the result of a coalition of several societies working together for the cause, including:
- Companion Animal Protection Society
- Animal Defense Team
- Animal Protection and Rescue League
- San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition (Humane Society and SPCA)
The National Institute for Animal Advocacy offers training, development and inspiration for local groups expressing the desire to create and organize with the intent to enact local, legal change.
Everyone, regardless of circumstance, is capable of joining the fight and making a difference to improve the miserable lives of the millions of helpless puppy mill animals.
Individual contributions to help stop puppy mills include:
- Pledge to never patronize a retail store that sells puppies, kittens or rabbits even to purchase food, toys or supplies
- Join an advocacy group that educates consumers, publicizes abuse, and campaigns for legislation
- Adopt or foster a puppy mill survivor
- Contribute to organizations that advocate for animal welfare with time and/or money
- Support political candidates with a strong record of animal welfare reform
- Patronize local retail stores that adopt humane pet models like the national chains PetCo and Pet Smart.
- Educate your friends and family about puppy mills.
Nothing measures success like positive change. Ongoing efforts by animal advocates continue to make an important difference.
Regardless of impact due to conscience or commerce, conditions must change to protect the innocent, voiceless animals abused by greed, politics and in many cases otherwise good people who are simply unaware.