Puppy Mill Awareness Day – September 17, 2011

Photo Credit: Susannah Kay

Heads up everyone! This Saturday, September 17th is Puppy Mill Awareness Day.  I’ve spent plenty of time on my soapbox in an uproar about puppy mills  and I will continue to do so until I no longer have to witness the physical maladies, behavioral nightmares, and broken hearts created by those who profit from the mass production of puppies.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day is all about educating as many people as possible about the inhumanity and insanity of puppy mills.  Might you know someone who is thinking about adopting a puppy?  If so please counsel them on the importance of avoiding an impulsive pet store purchase (guaranteed the “livestock” there were born at puppy mills).  Also, teach them that purchasing a pup online, sight (and site) unseen just about guarantees they will be providing income to a puppy mill. Rather, encourage them to adopt from a rescue organization, shelter, or reputable breeder.

About the only thing that keeps me sane when it comes to puppy millers are those wonderful souls who reside at the opposite end of the human spectrum- namely those who work in shelters and rescue organizations because they are passionate about giving animals a second chance.  As a way of honoring these folks and “celebrating” Puppy Mill Awareness Day, I hope you’ll help me out with the following plan.  Please tell me about your favorite rescue or humane organization and why you believe it is special.  Provide me with the group’s email address and contact information. From the list of responses I receive I will choose 10 organizations to receive a free copy of Speaking for Spot  and when I mail the book to them, I will let them know it was a gift from you (so be sure to include your full name).  Thanks ever so much.

Now get out there and spread some puppy mill awareness!

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.


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13 Comments on “Puppy Mill Awareness Day – September 17, 2011

  1. I didn’t know that there was a Puppy Mill Awareness Day! We have a wonderful rescued Yorkie. She was a puppy mill dog for the first 4 years of her life. We adopted her from St. Louis Senior Dog Project, our favorite rescue group. They can be reached at EllenE9466@aol.com
    It’s a wonderful group of dedicated people! (And we have the BEST dog in the world, thanks to them.)

  2. One thing I would like to say also, is about designer dogs. These people who breed these dogs make me ill. They are decieving the uneducated public. Uneducated is the key word here. I wish we could get more information out there that these designer dogs come from puppy mills. They are mixed breed dogs. We have a lawn and garden and pet store here in town, the owner has told her source that she will take anything (designer dog) that they can come up with. And then they sell them for a lot of money!! Just heard another good one, someone my friend knows, is buying English Teddy Bear Labradors for $3,000.00! WHAT!!!We have to do something about the uneducated public, they are the supporters of puppy mills, don’t they know that? Please tell everyone about designer dogs, that they are just a mixed breed pup who sometimes end up with all the bad traits and genes of both parents. Help!

  3. Midwest Border Collie Rescue (MWBCR.org) goes above and beyond to help Border Collie’s in need. They have taken dogs from all over the country, not just the Midwest to help them. Dogs range from Puppy Mill or hoarder situations, BCs about to euthanized at shelters/animal control, owner surrender and even some lovely caring veterinarians.

    MWBCR takes dogs that many other groups won’t. Some of the dogs are so far ‘gone’ that they take a lot of time learning to trust. The foster homes patiently work with the dog as it learns coming out of the crate is safe and that people are nice and love them. Many MWBCR volunteers continuously improve their knowledge going to seminars- only naming a few of the seminars MWBCR volunteers have attended- Susan Clothier, Patricia McConnell, Ken Ramirez, Dr. Sophia Yin, Pam Reid, etc. MWBCR follows these low-stress, ‘positive’ methods in working with all of their dogs, not just the ‘hard’ cases.

    Other types of dogs MWBCR takes that others won’t are dogs with medical conditions. MWBCR has taken a dog that was hit by a car and a caring vet talked the owner into surrendering the animal instead of euthanizing. MWBCR took her into their custody and worked with vet specialists (Surgeon and later rehab). They also took another dog that had a dislocated hip and needed an FHO surgery and months of rehab (this meant multiple trips weekly for underwater therapy during WI winter!).

    These cases are only a few of the examples why MWBCR is great. They go above and beyond for the dogs in their care. Many of the volunteers joined MWBCR after adopting a dog from MWBCR or volunteered with MWBCR and then adopted! This group truly cares about animals and all dogs- not just Border Collies (although it is a group for BCs specifically).

  4. This is the only animal welfare group I have seen to post its inspection report on its website. Why all groups do not do this, I have no idea. But check out the 3rd one on the site: dogs are trained to not bark and be quiet with visitors? How many of us can report this about our own dogs?


    And the Ames, Iowa city shelter kills / euthanizes less than 10% of its cats and dogs, while the Des Moines pound where I live, run by the largest nonprofit shelter in the state (ranked by revenue), 30 miles south, does not even report the disposition of its pets.


    Quality management matters, in animal welfare, as in most industries.

  5. Thank you for this post. I hadn’t realized this Saturday was Puppy Mill Awareness Day, which is great to know, as our county is holding a public meeting about a bill they are trying to get passed to make a county run rating system for pet stores that sell puppies. They tried first to get a bill passed to ban pet stores from selling puppies in our county, but they had to resign it because it is run by New York state, and the law apparently can not be changed at the local level, unfortunately.

  6. I can’t believe our states allow puppy mills, I imagine all the tax dollars it takes to pay animal control officers and fund state run pounds, seems it would be cheaper to just regulate them out of business. Pet shops that buy from puppy mills should be investigated and closed down.

  7. We recently fostered a 18 month old female for 4 months that had been rescued from a puppy mill. What an experience!! Very emotional and trying. When she came to us she was scared to death of everything. She definitely showed characteristics of a dog completely deprived of socialization. She is now with another foster family who have a dog that had also come from a puppy mill. She seems to be making progress and is a sweet little girl with a naturally friendly disposition, which was not allowed to flower. We were glad to be apart of her healing process and our wish and hope for her is that she will find a ‘forever home’ where she will get the love and attention she so deserves.

  8. Our local SPCA had a false reputation as a no kill shelter, a myth they perpetuated for over 20 years. In actuality, 60 % of the pets presented were euthanized, so the truth remained hidden. Some rescue organizations are terribly underfunded and the pets are housed in conditions that are almost as inappropriate as puppy mill breeders. I do not like the pet store industry, but as a practicing veterinarian with 32 years of experience, I have treated many products of this industry, as have you Dr. Kay, that were wonderful family companions. Until this industry is banned, the dogs which are housed at pet stores are in fact ” a rescue dog” when some kind sole gives them a home. Are they any less deserving of a home? Are they any more likely to have psychological problems than an adult dog adopted from a rescue organization?

  9. I would like to add that those reputable breeders you mention also deserve accolades for their selfless, devotion to the responsible breeding of pet dogs. As per your description of the “ideal’ breeder, they rarely do more than make ends meet financially, take lifelong responsibility for their pups, spend a fortune on health testing, vet bills and the best foods. They socialize pups and advise owners. Good breeders are their for their pups for a lifetime. Careful breeding, matching and support serve as “Preventative Rescue”. Their pups rarely end up in shelters. In the end ethical breeding is virtually volunteer work as well.
    I’m afraid many excellent breeders burn out partly due to the lack of accolades and recognition for this aspect of their work. Even ethical breeders do not escape the current climate of villification of anyone who dares breed.
    Validation will encourage more reputable breeders to stay with their work, continue their education and take their rightful place in providing pets to the public. It will encourage even more focus on the primary job of today’s dog as a companion. This can only be good for pets and their owners.

  10. I try to spread the word about puppy mills every chance I get. I love our rescue organization- Missouri Valley Boxer Rescue. I got Becky with their aid- she was 7 years old (we think) with missing teeth, scars, many allergies, and a grade 3 heart murmur. She also had seizures for awhile (I had given her Frontline which I have since stopped). She had been through 2 homes, the shelter a couple of times plus a foster home or two. Boxer rescue got her to me and I am proud to say that she is now a happy bouncy older boxer with her CGC and she is a therapy dog at a local care center. Boxer Rescue works hard to place all their rescues in the proper homes-young and old boxers- and I have talked to many who love their rescued dogs. I like to work with the older boxers who may be harder to place but who still deserve to have a loving home. They also helped me get an older male companion for Becky through MoKan Boxer Rescue and he is doing great. The contact for Missouri Valley Boxer Rescue is Lee Mitchell (female) and the email is mitchellee@aol.com. The website is http://www.mvboxerclub.com/html/rescue.html

  11. If you live in CA one way you can help is by ordering a CA State Pet Lovers License Plate. Once 7,500 orders are received DMV will begin processing these plates which will help to provide free & low cost spay & neuter services all across the State.

    Thanks for your support in helping to address the pet overpopulation crisis.


  12. Thank you for speaking out against puppy mills, Dr. Kay! Our organization, Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, has been researching Iowa mills for 3 years. With more than 350 mills, our state ranks #2 in the number of USDA-licensed facilities. At least 23,000 dogs are trapped in them. More than 59% of these breeders have been cited for significant violations to the Animal Welfare Act. Many of these are chronic offenders. We all need to put more pressure on the USDA to do a better job of regulating them. Their 2008 Inspector General report captured their inefficiencies and I believe that they’re working to correct them, but why do they continue to license new breeders while they’re trying to figure out how to do a better job of protecting the dogs? I also think some of those at the top of APHIS (overseers of dog breeders) need to leave. This mess was allowed to evolve under their less-than-watchful eyes. How can they be trusted to do what is needed to make things better? Please contact Sec. of Ag. Tom Vilsack (agsec@usda.gov) and ask that this issue be given top priority until it is fixed.

  13. I went to Puppy Mill Awareness Day in Lancaster a few years ago. If I ever thought accusations about Amish farmers being some of the worst purveyors of puppy mills were false, I was proven wrong at that event. Everywhere you turn around there, you see signs stating “puppies for sale.” Upon leaving “Amish Country,” I got stuck behind a horse and open carriage shuttling a sick-looking dog trapped in a small chicken wire cage. It was a profound moment.