A New Year’s Resolution to Help Eradicate Puppy Mills

Happy new year, dear readers! I wish you and your four-legged family members much joy and good health throughout 2015.

I have a special favor to ask of you. I am hoping you will add the following to your list of New Year’s resolutions:

Before the end of 2015, I resolve to do at least one thing to help eradicate puppy mills!

Thank you in advance for letting me butt in on your list of New Year’s resolutions. Please tell me what you hope to do in 2015 to help eradicate puppy mills, and I will enter your name into a drawing for a goodie bag (contains treats for you and your pets) generously provided by the ASPCA.

Puppy Mills

The term “puppy mill” refers to large scale commercial breeding facility that produces large numbers of puppies, while neglecting the overall health and psychological well-being of their dogs. In most puppy mills, the dogs are kept in deplorable conditions.  This production formula maintains low overhead and maximizes profits. There are more than 4,000 licensed puppy mills operating within the United States, and there is no telling how many are in operation that are unlicensed.

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 Internet sales. Their incredibly 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 purchase products from a pet store that sells puppies, immediately stop and desist! Add the icing to 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 about this pledge and post it on your Facebook page.
  • When you meet people who want to adopt a puppy, teach them how to avoid a puppy mill purchase. They should avoid a pet store purchase at all costs, and should stay away from Internet sites advertising their “livestock”. Teach them the motto, “Never purchase a puppy, site and sight unseen.” Encourage these adopters to work through shelters, rescue organizations, and/or responsible 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, address the topic at your local schools, 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.

Remember to let me know what you hope to do in 2015 to help eradicate puppy mills, and I will enter your name into a drawing for a goodie bag (contains treats for you and your pets) generously provided by the ASPCA.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy 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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16 Comments on “A New Year’s Resolution to Help Eradicate Puppy Mills

  1. I have long been an advocate of shelter animals…adopt-adopt-adopt! The most important thing to do in my mind is to educate people (friends, family, coworkers, people on the streets) about the misconception that shelter pets are damaged or there must be something wrong with them…they ended up in a shelter. Another is that you can’t get certain breeds in rescue. Part of this educating is also letting people know the cruelties of puppy mills and backyard breeders. A dog buyer will justify it by saying “But I saved them from that life”. Wrong you are creating it. No business is a closed business. It breaks my heart every time I see someone showing off their Petland dog. So in 2015 I will continue educating anyone who will listen to this crazy animal person in a nonconfrontational way.

  2. I took the no shop til they stop pledge and posted it to my wall on Facebook. We always adopt and encourage adoption. We speak out against puppy mills at every opportunity.

  3. I have tweeted about this and posted on Facebook. I will only adopt a dog/puppy from a shelter, and I encourage all my friends and families to do so as well. If they want a pure-bred puppy, I assist them in finding reputable breeders and I also help them reach out to the breed rescue.

    It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, puppy mills still exist. How do people remain so ignorant of the conditions?

  4. I already do/have done everything you list.
    But as long as the ASPCA kills dogs in their “shelter” I will never give them a penny. Also, most people do not realize that all monies go ONLY to dogs in NYC.

    And, Judy (above): the local A/C here also seizes puppies, which then go to a county employee to be raised and sold!

    Michael Martin: “online sites that promote selling puppies… are occasionally responsible breeders ” NO, THEY ARE NOT. “Responsible” breeders will only sell a pup to someone they meet and check out: they care where their pups end up, and would NEVER sell sight unseen to a stranger. Once, I bought a purebred pup from a breeder in another state (before I knew about rescues). The breeder grilled me for an hour before he would even consider selling me a pup; he checked my vet references and others; we spoke often, until he was satisfied that I would be a good home for his puppy. My Pomo died years ago, and I am still in touch with the breeder. I know several breeders; not one would EVER sell a dog online.
    And “the meetings are not about the morality of puppy mills but of business or land use, thus only those that are directly affected are allowed to speak.” I don’t know the laws in your state, but here, anyone who has something to say must be allowed to speak BY LAW. And the morals of your community make you a stakeholder in that conversation!

    Nancy, I don’t know if you lived in California when this was happening, but many years ago a local group called SPAR closed down all the pet shops that sold puppies, or got them to change to supply stores only. I was not very active with them, but did spend some time outside pet shops, talking to people about puppy mills. I still check periodically: there are still no puppy selling shops in this county as far as I can tell.

    It’s not hard to do: it just takes time and dedication: basically, a group of people would target one store at a time; ask the owner not to sell puppies, and educate them about the mills. If they continued to sell pups, the group simply had a couple of people for as much time as possible, stand in front of the business, and talk to people going in, educating them about where the puppies come from. Customers were encouraged to tell the owners that they would no longer shop there as long as they sold puppies. After a while, it became unprofitable for each business to sell. Several simply closed up, but the remaining ones stopped selling puppies. Many now hold adoption events in front of their stores, which brings publicity and new business!

  5. We take the pledge set out in Dr. Nancy’s “Your New Year’s Resolution” for 2015 against commercial puppy farms in this beautiful US of A.

    For starters, we hope to write the story of our puppy mill adoption of our beloved dachshund Laura Bonita “Lala” on 3/19/99 (DOB: 12/26/98; DOD 6/1/13).


  6. Unfortunately the pet store closest to where I live sells puppies. Therefore, I rarely shop there. In 2015 I will not buy anything there.

    In September, 2013 my husband and I adopted a nine year old English Setter from Molly’s Wish, a group whose mission is to stop puppy mills. We support this organization with donations and also attend their annual rally. We bring Julie, the Eng. Setter, and join them in a march that passes in front of a Petland store.

  7. I will do my best to educate the public about the evils of the treatment the canine mothers receive from these “people” and the health problems the puppies inherit. This is no easy task since people only think through their pocket book. Many people say they can’t afford to purchase a dog from a responsible breeder. In conclusion, they simply cannot afford to keep a puppy healthy and safe. This is a common problem when people express interest in our Clumbers. Plus some are simply unwilling to wait for a puppy, I have good reason to be concerned that they approach the puppy mill operators. Clumbers are not easy to find, since there are only (approximately) 8 litters a year in North America. As a group we must encourage people to do their homework when choosing a particular breed of dog.

  8. I can only tell people about my Goldendoodle, Kira. We got her, sight unseen, from a woman whom we believed to be a small-scale breeder, but I now have cause to wonder. They turned her over to us in a Wal-Mart parking lot midway between our homes, which are several hours apart.
    About a year ago, she’d gained a lot of weight, which made me feel really guilty until she had her annual check-up with our vet. Her thyroid level came back zero on the screening test, so she was immediately put on medication.
    I tried to locate the breeder to tell her about this, but the site no longer existed;she may have become a realtor but it’s not clear.
    That was just the beginning. This year we found that she also has severely dysplastic hips. Both of these serious problems would have come from her Golden parent, which I believe was her mother. That dog should not have been bred-as much as I love my dog.

  9. I will continue to refuse to purchase any item from a retail store that sells up puppies. I will continue to encourage people to either adopt a dog from a shelter or buy a dog from a responsible hobby breeder. In short, I will continue to do my best to wipe out puppy mills.

  10. I will continue what I started more than a decade ago, to get the word out about avoiding pet stores and adopting a shelter animal instead. I do this through my blog (8 Paws and 2 Tails) and by referring people to the smaller rescue groups whose work I’m familiar with. I tell those I know who are adamant about getting a pedigree dog to find a breed-specific rescue group. We just rescued 4 kittens placing 3 into good homes and working towards finding the perfect home for #4. Finally, I donate my time, supplies or money to a few NY groups to support them in their efforts (Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Neighborhood Cats, City Critters) and I attend the annual Broadway Barks event held every summer in the NYC theatre district.

  11. I will do my best to educate my local politicians as to what constitutes a REAL puppymill to avoid situations, as occurred the day before Christmas Eve in the town next to mine, where 8 6-week old, home-raised, healthy (vet checked the previous day) puppies were seized without warrant by A/C; the owners had failed to obtain a $25 license required by an ordinance that was passed ostensibly to prevent ‘puppy mills’ from popping up in the City. (The dam was not seized)

    The puppies were taken to a shelter 70 miles away, which promptly advertised them for sale @ $600/ea til public outcry made the shelter reconsider keeping the puppies. Their whereabouts are unknown at this time, but hopefully they are still healthy and will soon be reunited with their momma. I think we all need to remember that a lovingly home-raised litter does not a puppymill make, nor is every shelter a place we would want to support. I vote for an end to vitriol and name-calling, and the start of productive, constructive, dialog. We all want the best for our animals.

  12. I feel the best thing that I can do in the way of pledging my assistance in helping to eradicate puppy mills is to offer my voice and knowledge about the true facts behind the vast majority of puppy mill operations to others that are considering to adopt a puppy into their family from a retail outlet, backyard breeders whom breed continually for profit or online sites that promote selling puppies. Don’t get me wrong there are occasionally responsible breeders on the latter that breed for the right reasons and never for profit. I feel I can speak from experience and personal knowledge against puppy mills, for profit dog breeders and the conditions the dogs live in from having provided a loving forever home for a puppy mill Bernese Mountain Dog breeder bitch that knew nothing of life other than four years in a small containment cage before being rescued by a rescue affiliated individual when the puppy mill operator was going to “put her down”. She lacked any socialization, was fearful, non-trusting and in poor health. It was challenge, but a challenge we undertook with love, patience and understanding. When she passed away our sad hearts were comforted by the fact that we had given her the love, care and joy of freedom she so rightly deserved all along.

    Though it may be a small part in helping to eradicate puppy mills, I feel I can change individuals minds one at a time in unwittingly supporting the only purpose behind a puppy mill, greed of profit! The locality I live in, sad to say, does have some operating puppy mills, because the laws of the state and the counties contained in it allow them to operate per existing rules and regulations and because there is a large population of Amish living there. Opposition to puppy mills operating in the area has been thwarted many times during public meetings when specific issues at hand about zoning, commercial or agriculture use come about and it involves a puppy mill. Opposition is not allowed verbal input because the meetings are not about the morality of puppy mills but of business or land use, thus only those that are directly affected are allowed to speak. So often it is beat your head against the wall when fighting the system about puppy mills. With puppy mills governed by the USDA and dogs by law regarded only as property and not as loved family members, eradication of puppy mills will be an up hill battle. Until then, I continue to try to change one individuals mind at a time and hope that someone in a position of change will really listen and try to bring about change.

    We have and have had pure bred Bernese Mountain Dogs over the years as well other furry four legged kids adopted from rescue organizations and humane shelters. Four of our Berners have come from breed specific breeders that bred responsibly for the betterment of the breed’s health and longevity. Never bred for profit, always did background checks and then only sealing the deal with a written contract. Currently living with us are two Berners, one a rehome and one a rescue from a continual neglected situation. We also have a rescued Saint Bernard that started life in an abusive situation. Though our interest lies in large breeds, specific to Bernese Mountain Dogs, our hearts love all dogs and I always encourage prospective puppy adopting individuals to do their homework when homing a dog. Be responsible, know what it entails financially to feed and care for a dog, know the time and effort involved in raising a puppy. Provide for them adequate attention, socialization, warm dry housing and return their unconditional love in kind. And if they feel they can do that, keep an open mind and heart toward any dog pure bred or mixed needing a loving forever home.

  13. I will not shop at pet stores
    I will encourage others to stop back yard breeding too
    I am going to Oceanside, Ca, on Wednesday to attend City Council meeting to ban pet stores that sell puppies from mills.
    I will email all my contacts for help.

  14. I promise to never purchase a cat or dog from a Puppy Mill. I have and always will adopt my family pets from our local animal shelters. I will also share with everyone that I come in contact why it is important to save a life and adopt an animal from your local pet shelter instead of purchasing an animal.

  15. I took the pledge . . . Adopt, Don’t Shop! All of my dogs and cats are rescues, and they are wonderful!

    I would also like to mention that, not only do puppy mills fail to provide proper care for the animals, they also breed irresponsibly which often produces a high incidence of inherited diseases, some of which can take several years to present symptoms. Some of these conditions (e.g. degenerative myelopathy) can be devastating to the animal and heart-breaking for the owner. If a person does decide to buy from a breeder, please insist on genetic testing typical for that particular breed.

  16. Yes I completely agree with you on this one…I will make sure I donate to the ASPCA…They do wonderful work for the animals…I always adopt at animal shelters…or take in homeless animals…take care of 8 homeless feral cats…and I have 2 dogs of my own…and I love them all…thank you also for all the things that you do…:-)