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Puppy mills are large-scale commercial facilities that breed canines for profit. Imagine a dog in a small cage, forced to reproduce over and over again during her life in prison. Void are the comforts of play toys, human companionship, and regular exercise, as this animal must endure substandard living conditions and receive little or no veterinary care. Many of these poor creatures are discouraged from barking and become mentally unstable from loneliness and confinement. Then, once fertility decreases, she may be killed, abandoned, or sold to another puppy mill.
 
In addition to promoting animal suffering, puppy mills contribute to the overpopulation of dogs, many of which have genetic defects, behavior issues, and health problems. And – as long as these dogs are given water, food, and shelter – puppy mill operations are legal in the United States.

How is this possible, you may wonder? In 1966, the United States Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act, which establishes minimum standards of care for select animal breeds sold commercially in America. However, as many puppy mills sell their dogs directly to the public through the Internet, newspaper advertising, and local pet shops, they are not mandated to follow federal legislation as set by the AWA. Additionally, animal cruelty and neglect laws all vary by state.
 
There are many organizations working hard to fight puppy mills. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are two organizations that support legislative reform and partner with local authorities to shut down the most severe puppy mills. United Against Puppy Mills (UAPM) frequently sends educational speakers to schools and businesses to promote action within the community. Other groups, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have even sent undercover investigators into puppy mill operations, reported their findings, and effectively shut down these facilities.

There are many ways you can be an advocate for dogs living in puppy mills. Write letters to your federal and state legislators and encourage them to support laws that protect animals. Voice your opinion in the local newspaper to teach your community about this important issue. Purchase and wear “Stop Puppy Mills” campaign gear in the form of t-shirts, bookmarks, dog collars, stickers, tote bags, and brochures – then, spread the word and hand out flyers at the dog park, playground, mall, and veterinarian’s office. Raise funds and sponsor a billboard in your city. Persuade your local pet store to reject puppy mill suppliers and partner with local animal shelters as a more compassionate business model. Finally, donate to groups that are campaigning to stop puppy mills, like the HSUS, UAPM, and PETA.

For those individuals wanting to purchase a puppy, consider adopting an animal from your local shelter. Many of these facilities have dozens of purebred and mixed canines just waiting for a loving home. And by adopting your next pooch, you are taking a stand against puppy mills. If you have a specific breed you are hoping to buy, take responsible precautions in learning about a potential breeder. Visit their premises and evaluate the standards of care they provide their animals. Ask for referrals of past clients. Be careful of online advertising – puppy mills often position themselves as family-owned breeders, complete with dramatic websites and fabricated testimonials. And finally, do not buy the cute, cuddly “doggy in the window” at a pet store, because it’s likely he came from a puppy mill. While you may think you are saving the little pup, you are instead fueling the supply-and-demand cycle of the puppy mill industry.

Together, we can educate others about this inhumane industry and put puppy mills out of business forever.

Find out more about puppy mills when the DogTown staff volunteers for a massive puppy mill rescue in Missouri. DogTown: Puppy Mill Rescue airs tonight at 8P et/pt.

Learn more about puppy mills at this Humane Society Resource: 

Purchase “Stop Puppy Mills” campaign gear: 

Study a chart of puppy mill laws by state:

Understand more about animal cruelty legislation: