Every year, about four million homeless pets are euthanized in U.S. shelters, yet puppy mills are churning out about the same number (some breeds go for $1,000 a pup). The math couldn’t be easier; the pet overpopulation situation would be dramatically improved if puppy mills didn’t exist.
Like factory-farmed meat, the puppies are raised in large numbers with low-cost production methods, sold to a “middle man,” and delivered to retail, where the end consumer usually has no idea where the animal came from. At a puppy mill, not only are the breeding dogs cruelly confined, denied proper vet care, and isolated from human contact, but their offspring are inbred and often have serious health problems. Not only is this no life for man’s best friend, it’s no life for our worst enemy.
There are about 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. (mostly in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri). The puppies wind up in pet stores all over the country. How much is that doggie in the window? We should no longer be asking such a question. Here’s a better one: who isn’t doing their job? The answer, according to a May 2010 report from the Office of the Inspector General, is that the USDA fails to enforce the Animal Welfare Act against puppy mills. If they did, plenty of them would be shut down.
Best Friends Animal Society’s Puppies Aren’t Products Campaign is doing great work in this area, _as is the ASPCA_ [http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/puppy-mills/]. Join the ASPCA’s campaign to bring all commercial dog breeders under federal oversight; there’s an easy form here for e-mailing your federal legislator to support and co-sponsor the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act.
On a much more local level, of course, adopt your next pet. If you’re totally committed to a specific breed (and those Puggles are hard to resist), check out breed rescue groups–every breed has one, and you’ll find what you’re looking for without participating in a gruesome industry.
Now, if only eating meat and animal products responsibly was this easy…