A New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year to you! In honor of this new year I have a rather bold request to make of y’all (having lived in the south now for more than a year I’ve earned the right to use this expression). I ask that you add a new line item to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and it goes something like this:

Before the end of 2013, I resolve to do at least one thing to help eradicate puppy mills!

Puppy Mills

For those unfamiliar with the term “puppy mills” (aka, commercial breeding facilities) they are dog breeding operations in which the health and physical and psychological well-being of the dogs are disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits. In spite of this grim definition, there are more than 4,000 licensed puppy mills operating within the United States. And there is no telling just how many unlicensed puppy factories are in operation.

Business is booming for puppy millers because people continue to willingly purchase puppies from pet stores. Retail pet stores sell more than 500,000 pups a year, ninety-nine percent plus of which are born in puppy mills. The other source of income for puppy millers is their Internet “livestock sales”. Their attractive websites entice unwitting individuals to purchase puppies site and sight unseen.

Your New Year’s Resolution

What are you willing to do to help eradicate puppy mills? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • If you’ve been purchasing products from a pet store that sells puppies, immediately stop and desist! Put the icing on the cake by having a candid conversation with the store manager advising him or her exactly why you will be taking your business elsewhere.
  • Take the ASPCA’s official No Pet Store Puppies Pledge stating that you won’t spend a single dime at a pet store that sells puppies. Tweet or blog about this pledge, post it on your Facebook page and share this with your dog-loving family and friends.
  • Educate others about how to avoid a puppy mill purchase. Encourage potential adopters to work through shelters, rescue organizations, and/or reputable breeders.
  • Be a voice of change within your community, particularly if you live in a state where puppy mills are thriving (Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas, to name a few). Attend an organized rally (consider organizing one yourself), sign a petition, and write letters to your legislators.
  • Volunteer some time with an organization that provides rehabilitation, foster care, and placement of adult dogs who have been rescued from puppy mill breeding programs.
  • If you have cared for a puppy mill dog, share your story with others. Talk and write about your experiences. Share your story with the ASPCA where it will be shared with others.

Thank you for letting me “butt in” on your list of New Year’s resolutions. Please share what you hope to do in 2013 to help eradicate puppy mills.

Wishing you much good health and happiness throughout this new year,


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
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
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 and Your Dog’s Best Health.   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 and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.



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7 Comments on “A New Year’s Resolution

  1. Cocker Spaniel Resources, Inc. specializes in rehabbing puppy mill cocker spaniels from the Upper Midwest. WI put into law tougher standards for dog breeders and shelters/rescues. It has caused some backyard breeders and puppy mills in WI to decide the standards are too tough thus closing up “shop” so to speak. Shelters/rescues have been especially hit hard with more costs from these new laws.
    The breeding mills have moved outside the US into countries without any government supervision. South America trades with the US to bring puppies into Miami to petshops. Fair Trade practices should not include live animals at all from other countries for US citizens to purchase.
    Education about spay/neuter also needs to be made more prominent in the US.

  2. I have been volunteering at a no-kill shelter in Santa Barbara for about 2 years, once a week. They provide veterinary care for the dogs in their care. I feel that I am helping, in a small way, to get these dogs adopted.
    My own two dogs are from this shelter.

  3. Two months ago I adopted a puppymill breeder dog (Dalmatian). He is 2 years old. He is suspicious of children and riding in cars. He is attached to our other dog and will follow and imitate her, which makes his adjustment much easier. New situations scare him, but he is very loving here at home, so I feel that patience and planned exposure to the world will help with his issues.
    The Dalmatian rescue did rescue 6 other Dals last spring and these 6 dogs were as feral as any I have ever seen. They have been adopted into experienced homes and are very slowly adjusting to human touch and kindness. There is a network of wonderful people who specialize in feral dogs and they are a good source of information on how to handle these dogs. Mainly, it is giving them space and lots of time and improvement is calculated by teeny, tiny steps. These dogs are living proof of what a hell these puppymills are.

  4. Improvements could be achieved by promoting and supporting responsible breeders instead of making it impossible for them to do what they are doing. Then improve the larger breeding facilities so they are a good place to live for any dog or puppy. Last figure out how to get the public to buy responsibly and to make a commitment to each pet they bring into their home.
    The “fight against puppy mills” in my opinion will not eliminate suffering or mass breeding facilities. The demand for puppies is there and if they aren’t being bred in the US they WILL be bred outside our borders. So if we really want dogs to be bred in a responsible fashion with dogs having their needs met, we need to encourage and support responsbile breeding, wether that is a small scale breeder or a larger scale facility.

  5. The problem with such a blanket condemnation of “puppy mills” is agreeing on the definition of what one actually is. Animal rights groups such as HSUS would define a puppy miller as anyone breeding even a single litter, regardless of conditions.

    HSUS has never met a “good” breeder, or a “responsible” breeder, or a “reputable” breeder.

  6. Thank you Dr. Kay for ‘butting in’ for our New Years Resolutions.
    As an Addison dog owner, along with 3 rescues, I too tell people about the puppy mills and their horrific conditions. It’s time for ALL States to put an end to this ‘practice’.
    Happy New Year
    Wendy M Georgas