There's not a whole lot that can be done except to educate people; most have no clue what a puppy mill is, or if they've heard of it, that's the extent. Oftentimes, they don't know what puppy mills do to these poor animals.
I also covered this topic in my college English speech class as a persuasive speech, if I remember correctly, to persuade people to not buy pets from pet stores because I think over 90% of all commercial pet stores that sell dogs and cats (not from outside non-profit organizations as adoptions) get their "merchandise" from puppy mills. I also did a features story about puppy mills in one of my communication classes.
The states that have the worst reputations for puppy millers are Pennsylvania (especially in Lancaster) and Missouri. Other states that made the list are all mostly concentrated in the midwest and south.
I have made personal phone calls to the ASPCA and PETA (not that I'm a fan of PETA, but they had excellent info on this topic that I used for my features article, not to mention ways to get in touch with pet stores and speak with the operators of pets stores in order to get them to give you info they normally wouldn't give) on what measures can be taken to stop puppy milling. Both said the same thing I mentioned above: the key is to educate people.
Many people unfortunately buy a pet on a whim without really knowing anything about what it takes to care for that specific animal or breed. They walk past a pet store in a mall (Hey, is that pet store still in the CH Mall in your city?), see the puppies out on display at the front and think, "Awwwwww! I want that cute widdle puppy!" Either that, or holiday shopping is a major time for these unfortunate animals, as people buy their loved one or child a pet for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, or a birthday.
In cases like these, very rarely do these animals end up with forever homes. Uneducated people buy a large breed puppy that was just "so cute and cuddly" and then it grew, and they can't deal with it. Or they get an aggressive breed like a chow chow, akita, or pit bull, and then the dog starts biting people (poor breeding increases risks for behavioral issues significantly). Or the poor breeding results in a sick pet who is constantly at the vet and a real drain on the wallet.
That's just all if the puppy is "lucky" and even gets a chance to find a home, even if it's temporary.
The breeder dogs at the mills are bred literally to death. If they get sick or can't breed anymore, they are inhumanely euthanized to get the "cheapest way out," which could be a bullet between the eyes, a blow to the head, poisoning, drowning, hanging, throat thrashing, or...the dog might be sold to dog fighters to use as "bait" for dogs that are being trained to fight.
Breeders are kept in kennels that are usually not sheltered from the weather or elements, grooming, nail trims, vaccinations and worming are not kept up with, sanitary keeping is not a priority. Dogs usually stand on a wire grate and their pads wear off, or their toenails grow too long and get caught and ripped out.
Puppies that are born sick, deformed, runts, or ones that just don't "look right" are usually killed just as inhumanely as the no-good breeders.
I called that pet store in the city where you live at the CH Mall when I wrote my features article. I asked them the questions as was recommended by PETA, but those pet store owners are either trained to not say a word, or wise to the ways of animal rights people asking questions. I was polite as could be, and asked up front if I could talk about the dogs they sell for an article I was writing about people who are looking to buy a new pet. This woman immediately got hostile and defensive with me! She said she would only answer questions that she believed people should know for my article; well, I was gonna take what I could get. I got the 100% "read-off" answers they're supposed to give: We get all our dogs from professional AKC registered breeders, and all have top quality pedigrees (she would not name any "AKC registered breeders"). She refused to read off a pedigree for me that was from a dog that was for sale there because she said I'd have to show an interest in buying it first, that they don't just show off the dogs' pedigrees. She refused to tell me what they do with dogs that don't sell and get too old or big to keep at the pet store; she said that was confidential information (most pet stores send dogs back to the puppy mill if they get too old and won't sell, or they dump them off somewhere).
What people need to realize first of all is that this is not just puppy mills doing such a horrific thing; the pet stores that buy from the millers can be just as bad.
So what about all the puppies at the pets stores if no one recommends buying them? If people do know about the behind-the-scenes milling, sometimes they feel compelled to "rescue" a puppy from a pet store.
This is a bad idea, as it accomplishes nothing. It only feeds the profit of the pet store and the millers and encourages this to keep happening.
It's unfortunate what this really boils down to, but basically, we can only hope for the best that the puppies do somehow find their forever home, just not through the profit of the pet store and millers.
The biggest blow to pet stores and millers that would be most effective to eliminate this atrocity is to starve their profit.
DO NOT BUY PETS FROM PET STORES.
AJH84- That was an "Excellent Post".....
April2 - I have 2 Puppy Mill rescues that live with us. Both were from Mills being busted. One in Missouri, the other in Oklahoma. Both of mine came to me as adults. They were used for the sole purpose of breeding for the greed of the millers. Fortunately, they were not killed before their release. I will add: Samson is psychologically damaged past the point of no return. On occasion, he will allow me to pet him. He is absolutely terrified of people and will potty in the floor if you make eye contact with him. Isn't that sad? He's been here almost 2 yrs.! Both of their medical issues are astounding....One will NEVER be potty trained! The female (Ginger) cries over all her toys....Were her babies taken away too soon, every time??? I don't know! The horrors they have lived through make me sick, but it's not their fault...The good news is that they both will live out their lives (In safety) with us.
There is alot of good information (For your daughter) On the "Small Paws Rescue" websight in Oklahoma....Education is the key here...I'm glad your daughter has chosen to spread the word.... Karla
We work with a rescue group. The stories are so sad and the conditions are terrible.
AJ is absolutely right about buying from pet stores.
This topic is a hugely controversial one simply because no one can adequately and legally define a puppy mill. You would think it would be easy...but everytime you set a limit on number of dogs or a specification on cage space, etc, bad breeders will find a way around it. In addition, many of these types of breeders simply pack up and move to a different locale where they won't be bothered by inspectors.
The following is an excerpt from a blog I wrote several weeks ago after Cesar Millan had his show on puppy mills.
This story may have stimulated me to think of a potential workable plan to do away with puppy mills. If you follow any legislative alerts, you will see that regulating breeders is a common item on many states' law-making agendas this year. Right here in Indiana, a new law caps the number of dogs you can own (or breed) before you are considered to be a "commercial breeder" Many other states are looking at similar laws as well as the ideas to control pet over-population, such as mandatory spay-neuter laws. I don't know for certain, but my gut tells me that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is behind many of these legislative efforts. Although I do applaud their surface efforts to help, I can't help but continue to be concerned about their less than apparant motives. Both HSUS and PETA leaders have publically declared their goal of "no-more pets".
But let's be realistic, people want to own pets and the "don't shop..adopt" program is not working. American consumers will continue to buy puppies because 1) puppies in stores are cute and 2) its really convenient.
Instead of working through legislatures, why not put some money up front to help develop an enforcement agency/operation/organization that can help police breeders and help educate future pet owners? As it stands now, each new law that passes in every state adds to a financial burden at a time when it is difficult to get funding for any project. I have friends who work currently in enforcement type of agencies and their funding is absolutely pitiful. In fact, recently in Michigan, the state government dropped the program designed to inspect pet stores, etc due to lack of funding.
The website, Charity Navigator shows that HSUS has in excess of $225 Million in assets. Why not free up some of those assets to develop an organization that will work with the American Kennel Club, veterinary organizations, and other dog-related groups to come up with a workable and fair outline of "good" breeding practices that is not solely determined by number of dogs or number of puppies sold?
Think on it...I don't know how much money the AKC has, but if HSUS could give about $20 Million (10% of their assets), the AKC could chip in and partner that money with funds already allocated for the USDA for enforcement of existing laws, we might make a bigger dent in the puppy mill industry. Its all about working together and stopping the "in-fighting" that accompanies any attempt at creating new laws.
Other benefits: Breeders who met "good" breeding practices could sell puppies through any outlet they choose...to individuals or to stores. People looking for puppies could buy them through "HSUS Approved Stores" to save the difficulties of finding a "good" breeder. Portions of all sales, through breeders or stores, would be funneled back into the organization for further enforcement and inspection of facilities. And best of all, we could avoid a lot of government interference. Breeders and stores who don't meet the requirements would eventually perish from lost business and consumers, good breeders and good stores would be able to work together to get puppies into homes.
This is just a basic outline and I know that many people will have a lot of issues with it, but...it's a much better start than simply throwing up some numbers and saying you can't breed dogs if you own x number of dogs. Work with DVMs to find good breeding practices, make potential breeders outline their breeding facilities/plans and submit them to this new organization annually along with their license fees, and finally, utilize technology to help eliminate the fraud that is often associated with AKC/CKC and other kennel club registrations. Maybe even mandate microchips for all new puppies that make it to 6 weeks of age.....
This obviously needs a lot of work and, of course, a lot of money. BUT...money is something the HSUS has alot of and my gut feeling is that the AKC has a fair share too. Let's put their monies together for a good common cause and start stamping out this horrendous nightmare breeders!
One complicating factor you might not be aware of is that in Pennsylvania and Ohio, there are a LOT of Amish breeders. In their culture, dogs are considered livestock, just like sheep or cattle. Now personally, I would never treat any livestock this badly, and most family farmers I know wouldn't either. However, it's not unheard of for farmers to leave livestock out in terrible weather, not get them vet care because they assume a margin of loss, and put them down inhumanely when they're no longer profitable. I think it's important to understand this mindset when trying to come up with a solution to the problem. There's no sense of anything being wrong with treating dogs this way, so Mr. Dock is right, there has to be a way to take away the profit.
The problem I see with approved stores though, is that really serious breeders are obsessive about their litters and would never let a pup go to a random person they don't know. Many are watching and judging potential buyers much more closely than the buyers are judging the potential pups. Often, they will call/visit then new family at intervals to make sure everything is okay. I think this is the kind of breeder we should want to buy from, and I don't know how that would work in a storefront.
The problem with PETA and the HSUS is that neither one of these organizations is truly interested in solving the problem of puppymills or animal cruelty, they are animal rights organizations that are trying to completely stop ANY interaction between humans and animals, right down to a complete cessation of the keeping of animals as pets.
They rely on the fact that people THINK they are interested only in the welfare of the animals, but nothing could be further from the truth. People think that animal rights and animal welfare are one and the same, but they are COMPLETELY different, and to support organizations that promote animal rights is only giving these people the power they seek to put their plans into action.
If people are interested in helping animals, they would be MUCH better off donating money directly to their local shelters or local SPCAs. Each county in every state has its own SPCA. THEY are the ones who are interested in animal welfare.
As far as puppymills go, no responsible breeder would ever allow their puppies to be sold in pet stores, therefore, if you see a puppy in a pet store, they were bred by either a puppymill or a local person who isn't truly interested in the betterment of their breed, but merely in producing puppies to sell to make a few bucks. Every parent club of every AKC breed has a Code of Ethics that prohibits their breeders from selling their puppies in pet stores. Buying a puppy from a pet store, even at a greatly reduced price, is not "rescuing" the puppy, it's simply buying the puppy at a reduced price.. All this does is make room for the pet store to bring in yet another puppymill puppy. The stores buy these puppies at prices ranging anywhere from about $35 for beagles and other small breeds to about $250 for English Bulldogs. The price markups are INSANE, with Beagles and other common breeds selling for $500 and up, and English Bulldogs selling for $2500 AND UP. So someone might THINK they are "rescuing" a dog because they only paid $100 for it, when it was originally priced at $800 or more, but the price was marked up so many hundreds of percent that even at what appears to be a giveaway, the pet store is STILL making a profit on a puppy that is nowhere near meeting its breed standard.
I could go on for days about the evils of puppymills, pet stores, and backyard breeding, but I have got to get to bed (I work nights) because I have to be in work at 3. When I get home tonight, however, I will add to my post because this most definitely IS a subject that deserves a LOT of attention.