Putting an End to Puppy Mills

Don’t enable the cruelty of puppy mills – never buy a dog or puppy online or from a pet store.
High-volume dog breeding operations often referred to as puppy mills, have a close association with cruelty. The problem is that puppy mills are legal in roughly 20 states, which means breeders there can have dozens of dogs kept in cages or kennels their entire lives. All they have to do to stay above animal cruelty laws is give them the basics – food, water, and shelter. 

Dogs are highly social creatures, so even the puppy mills that don’t violate animal cruelty laws are still abusing their dogs because they aren’t socialized and don’t receive personal attention. The ones that run afoul of the law are often highly unsanitary, which means the puppies run the risk of being born with or soon develop health issues. Fortunately, many state legislatures are drafting or have already passed laws that make it tougher to operate puppy a mill.

According to the Human Society, there are roughly 10,000 puppy mills in operation in the U.S. with 500,000 canines kept as breeders. Around 2.6 million puppies are sold each year, and for Illinois legislators, that’s where the problem lies. An Illinois lawmaker introduced legislation to put an end to retail sales of pets from puppy mills. In August, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation that animal rights advocates say is a significant win. 

Specifically, the bill (HB 1171) amends the Animal Welfare Act to require pet shops that sell pets to obtain them from animal control facilities or animal shelters. A synopsis of the bill says it “provides that an animal control facility or animal shelter that supplies dogs or cats to pet shop operators to be offered for sale shall not be a dog breeder or a cat breeder or obtain dogs or cats from a dog breeder, a cat breeder, a person who resells dogs or cats from a breeder, or a person who sells dogs or cats at auction in exchange for payment or compensation.” 

Positive Steps in 2020

The Humane Society noted some positive movement in 2020, including a new USDA rule regarding commercial dog breeders’ ability to obtain a new license. With the new rule, breeders must have their dogs regularly checked by a veterinarian, be vaccinated, and demonstrate compliance with the Animal Welfare Act before their license can be renewed. 

In November 2020, the Humane Society revealed footage from an undercover investigation of USDA-licensed breeders where their facilities had “cramped, ramshackle cages” and the conditions were “dingy and dirty,” yet none of these breeders in the investigation had been found in violation of USDA policies. The Humane Society stated that “consumer awareness is key to ending this problem, and as always, we urge you to look to shelters and rescues to adopt and help save a pet’s life. If you want to purchase a new pet, please ensure you are using a reputable breeder and never purchase a puppy online or from a pet store.”

At PetSoothe, we know dogs are family. We urge prospective dog owners to visit shelters in your area as they search for a companion. You can also join rescue groups, some of which are breed-specific, and stay informed on the latest available dogs and opportunities to foster if you’re not ready to be a full-time pet parent. We also recognize that there are responsible breeders who serve a purpose. In order to identify a reputable breeder, the American Kennel Club, Humane Society, and the ASPCA have weighed in on the topic and offer excellent advice.

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