For readers who may not be informed about puppy mills, here's something I wrote a few years back, during a Puppy Mill Action Week.
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Puppy mills are places of horrible cruelty and deprivation. Adult dogs are forced to breed until they die of exhaustion or complications, often bleeding to death. The puppies are raised under horrendous conditions, in tiny, overcrowded, wire cages, in which they can't stand properly, with no medical attention, no human contact and barely adequate nutrition. The puppies are then cleaned up - superficially, so they appear presentable - and sold to pet stores, usually the kind found in malls.
Puppies from puppy mills have a laundry-list of medical and behavioural problems. They often die shortly after being brought home, or the people who buy them are overwhelmed and either surrender or abandon them, or have them put down. It's a short, miserable life of suffering for a dog who never should have been brought into the world.
Although puppy mills violate all kinds of animal-cruelty laws, these laws are seldom enforced. Animal welfare groups like HSI Canada and the Humane Society of the United States believe that the best way to shut down puppy mills is by shutting down demand.
We need to educate prospective dog owners about not buying puppies from pet stores. The smaller the market, the fewer dogs will be ordered by pet stores. As demand shrinks, supply will shrink. When the system is no longer profitable, it will shut down. But as long as there's a market, puppy mills will continue to exist.
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The big-box chain stores such as PetCo, PetCetera, and PetSmart have been a great turning point in this battle. Seeking good publicity - and not wanting to be the target of boycotts - they got on board with this many years ago. None of these huge chains sell puppies or kittens at all. Instead, they work with local rescue groups to promote adoption.
Progress has been much slower among the smaller chains that are mostly found at malls. Slow, but happening. When I first moved to Mississauga in 2005, the pet store in the Square One mall had the old-fashioned puppy-in-the-window display. It broke my heart every time I saw it. Now that store no longer sells puppies.
Humane Society International/Canada applauds PJ’s Pets & Pets Unlimited and their affiliated stores for signing the HSI/Canada Puppy Friendly Pet Store Pledge. Last year, the pet store chain made the humane decision to stop the retail sale of puppies, and today they reaffirmed their commitment by pledging to never sell puppies in the future. PJ’s Pets & Pets Unlimited is one of the largest pet store chains in Canada, with 37 stores across the country.
“Every year, millions of healthy dogs are euthanized because homes for these animals can not be found. By signing our pledge and refusing to sell puppies, PJ’s stores are taking a stand against the cruel puppy mill industry and helping shelter dogs find loving homes,” said Ewa Demianowicz, campaigner for HSI/Canada. “Pet stores that sell puppies serve as a key distribution channel for puppy mills and we call on other pet stores to follow PJ’s example.”
“PJ’s Pets encourages the public to adopt dogs and cats in need of homes instead of buying them. Working together with rescue groups and shelters, PJ’s Pets uses its own stores as information conduits to find new owners for the abandoned pets,” said Margaret Kordas, president of PJ’s Pets & Pets Unlimited and its affiliated stores.
Since the launch of the HSI/Canada Puppy-Friendly Pet Store Pledge in 2009, over one hundred stores across Canada have shown leadership and set an example by pledging not to sell puppies now or in the future. HSI/Canada encourages the public to support ethical business by shopping at puppy-friendly pet stores, and opting to adopt when looking to add a dog to their family.
- Reputable breeders never sell puppies over the Internet or through a pet store and will insist on meeting the family who will be purchasing the dog.
- Investigations have consistently shown that puppies sold in pet stores often come from puppy mills.
- Puppy mills are mass-production facilities where the breeding dogs are often confined to small wire cages for life and deprived of the basics of humane care, solely to produce puppies for the pet trade.
- Several municipalities across Canada are helping to stop substandard commercial breeding operations by introducing by-laws that restrict the sales of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, including Richmond, Toronto, Mississauga, Verdun, and Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie.
- Puppy mills contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, which results in hundreds of thousands of unwanted dogs euthanized at shelters every year.
- Increasingly, owners of small and large pet stores are realizing that successful pet-related businesses do not require the sale of animals.