Ask Joyce: Why Aren't Puppy Mills Outlawed?Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on July 9th, 2008
ALDF's "Ask Joyce" column appears in each issue of The Animals' Advocate, ALDF's quarterly publication.
I saw an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show about puppy mills and cried my eyes out. Why aren’t these places outlawed, and what can I do to help?
We should all thank Oprah for helping to expose the long-term suffering of hundreds of thousands of dogs who are held prisoner in U.S. puppy mills. But, here’s the kicker: puppy mills are legal, and the wealthy industry that profits from them lobbies hard to keep it that way. While there are both federal and state laws that could potentially help, they are full of loopholes and under-enforced.
Puppy mills are commercial "factories" where the "product" is puppies and dogs are treated as machines. The "breeding" dogs are kept in overcrowded wire cages for their entire lives with little, if any, human contact or veterinary care. If the puppy mill is outdoors, the dogs are unprotected from the cold of winter and the heat of summer. They live with the stench of their own urine and feces and, if the cages are stacked on top of each other, the dogs on the lower level are hit with excrement from above as well. When the puppies are eight weeks old, they are cleaned up and shipped off for sale. Some die; many arrive sick.
The simplest way to assure that you are not supporting puppy mills is: don’t buy puppies. Puppy mill puppies are sold in pet stores, on the internet, and in newspaper classified ads. Don’t be fooled by ads telling you that the puppies were lovingly raised by a family. A good rule of thumb is that people who profit from keeping animals in a state of misery will often be willing to lie about how they treat those animals. Adopt from your local humane society or shelter. If you are interested in a particular breed, ask the shelter to notify you when a dog of that breed has arrived. Also, check with rescue groups of the breed you are interested in. And don’t forget the mixed breeds; they make wonderful, healthy companions. If you want to actively oppose puppy mills, get online and educate yourself about the issue. Forward that information to family members and friends who are thinking about buying a puppy, and write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.
Puppy mills exist because the American public unwittingly supports them with the almighty dollar. They will disappear only when the economic incentive is gone.