Pet stores in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Seattle, and other major cities across the nation import their dogs from Missouri—a state known for their puppy mills. It’s estimated that Missouri has 30 percent of all puppy mills in the country, with 200,000 breeding animals producing 1 million puppies a year according to the Humane Society of the United States. Meanwhile, there are 2 million healthy dogs euthanized in animal shelters each year, simply for lack of a home. Missouri’s Proposition B (The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act) hopes to correct this problem. If approved, Prop B has enormous positive implications for dog welfare all over the United States.
Prop B will vastly improve the lives of dogs in commercial breeding operations in Missouri. It will limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility and require large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each breeding dog under their care with basic humane animal care, including sufficient food and clean water; necessary veterinary care; sufficient housing, including protection from the elements; sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend their limbs; regular exercise; and adequate rest between breeding cycles.
Although Prop B won’t shut down all puppy mills in Missouri, it will require that breeders maintain certain humane care standards, which is not something puppy mills are known for. Puppy mills reap huge profits by cutting corners in veterinary care, and not providing sufficient space and human attention. Prop B will force these puppy mills to either comply or shut down.
Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states, “While dog fighting and other blood sports often dominate headlines, puppy mills are just as insidious a form of animal cruelty. This joint effort and ballot initiative is a crucial step in combating the horrific cruelty perpetuated by many commercial breeders. This measure will provide man’s best friend the opportunity to breathe fresh air and feel sunlight on their face; meeting these very fundamental needs should be unquestioned.”
Puppy Mills 101
Puppy mills are breeding kennels, located mainly in the Midwest, that are notorious for their cramped, unsanitary conditions and their continuous breeding of purebred animals. Puppy mill kennels usually consist of wire-mesh cages kept outdoors where female dogs are often bred continuously without rest between heat cycles. The mother dogs and their puppies often suffer from malnutrition and lack of veterinary care and receive little, if any, human contact. The puppies are taken from their mothers at four to six weeks of age (before they should even be weaned) and are sold to brokers who pack them into crates for transport to pet shops. The female dogs are typically killed once they stop producing litters. Unfortunately, puppy mill breeders are concerned more about the profit they make from puppies than the health and welfare of the animals. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there may be as many as 10,000 puppy mills operating across the United States.
What You Can Do
• Adopt instead of Buy. If you’re looking to get a dog, check with your local shelters first. Not only will you be saving a life, but you will ensure that your money is not going to support a puppy mill. There are many dogs waiting for homes in shelters all across the country, and close to 20 percent of these dogs are purebred. If you are set on a particular breed and can’t find it at your local shelter, try a breed rescue group through petfinder.com
• Research your local pet store. If you must adopt from a pet store, find out where the dogs are coming from. According to Main Line Animal Rescue, 99 percent of pet shop dogs come from puppy mills and if they state the animals came from the Midwest, it’s a good chance that it’s a puppy mill.
• Beware of Internet sales. Those who sell animals on the Internet are not held to the Animal Welfare Act regulations, and so are not inspected by the USDA. If you fall in love with a puppy through the Internet, make a visit to the breeder in person.
• Know how to recognize a responsible breeder. Responsible breeders have their dogs’ best interest in mind. If someone is a responsible breeder, they should be screening you just as you are screening them. Ideally, the mother dog should be part of their family. You should be allowed to see the breeding premises and be able to meet the mother of the puppies you are interested in. A responsible breeder will have health checks on all the puppies and will take them back for any reason if it doesn’t work out.
If you live in Missouri, please vote “yes” on Prop B. If you don’t live in Missouri, but would like to help support the cause to end puppy mills, visit yesonpropb.com.
In related animal legislation news, Governor Schwarzenegger wiped out nine months of effort to produce common-sense legislation aimed at protecting animals and consumers. During his last act of legislative review, the governor vetoed:
• Assembly Bill 1656, by assemblymembers Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, which would have mandated labeling of animal fur on clothing apparel.
• Assembly Bill 2012, authored by Assemblymember Ted Lieu, which would have upgraded criminal penalties for animal neglect.
• Assembly Bill 2411, authored by Assemblymember Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, which would have required informational disclosures to consumers of pet insurance.
• Assembly Bill 2743, by Assemblymember Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, sought to prohibit landlords and tenants from requiring cats to be de-clawed or dogs devocalized as a condition of tenancy.
The governor also enacted Senate Bill 1345 by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, over the strong objections of the humane community. SB 1345 allows for the continued import of products made from inhumanely killed kangaroos from Australia
The Santa Barbara City council passed a new spay-neuter ordinance on Tuesday. The City of Santa Barbara voted to adjust its pet licensing ordinance to make it consistent with the County’s law. The new ordinance requires owners of unaltered dogs and cats to present a certificate, that they’ve been counseled by their veterinarian on their options before they get a license for their pet. The intent of both the county and city’s pet ordinance is to prevent pet overpopulation.
Adoptable Pet of the Week