There are three key elements a program on puppy mills needs to have:
- Informational Presentation
- Interactive activities
- Q&A session
I actually implemented a program like this in schools in Sonoma County when I was in high school in 2009. I’ve seen the kids interested in the topic and how shocked they were about the practices of puppy mills. After giving one presentation at a school, my partner and I came back the next day to give one to another class and word had already spread over the entire K-8 school. There were whispers about who we are, kids came up to us asking us questions and one little girl even said she told her mom about what puppy mills were and they were now going to get their dog from a shelter. Because of how effective a program like this can be I think it would be very beneficial to eventually implement it in all schools.
Most notable to our community is the SPCA commercial against animal cruelty that uses spokesperson Sara McLachlan.
Getting celebrities on board with this cause would make a huge impact on spreading awareness and educating young people on this issue. Many young adults, teens and tweens idolize celebrities and try to follow trends and things they do. The purchase of designer dogs is one of those trends. If celebrities liek Sara McLachlan speak out against puppy mills and animal abuse and steer younger generations towards shelter it would help eliminate the problem.
It is not enough to spread awareness by throwing around the word “puppy mill”. It isn’t a term that many people know. This is why it is important to implement educational aspects like this commercial so that people understand what they are fighting against.
When you purchase a puppy that came from a puppy mill they are more likely to have infections, diseases and parasites from their lack of veterinary care. Most of the time the symptoms don’t show up until after you take them home and fall in love. Here is the story of Harley from her owner Jamie Strange:
In memory of Harley
My husband and I bought a sweet, adorable, eight-week-old Maltese/Chihuahua puppy at a local pet store in Utah. The employee did inform us the puppy had a cold and was on medicine, but as animal lovers, we were willing to take her home and take care of her—a cold goes away.
The puppy, Harley, was very thin and wouldn’t eat or drink. We fed her through a syringe for two days and pampered and loved her. By the third day, she was eating and drinking and playing—we were so delighted! But on the fourth day she went downhill and was whimpering and was so hot to the touch. I checked her temperature and it was 103.6. My husband rushed her to the vet and they tested her for parvovirus and it was positive. We were so devastated. We were quoted thousands of dollars for the hospital bill, but a low chance of survival. Harley weighed only one pound.
My mother called the pet store—the owner didn’t believe the parvo diagnosis and asked that we take Harley to his vet…so we rushed to his vet, who confirmed it. The owner of the pet store agreed to pay for only one night of fluids. We came and picked her up on Saturday and she was so sad and in pain. Within a few hours she passed away.
We are so heartbroken and angry. This little sweet puppy did not deserve this pain. We have tried to contact the store owner, but he will not return our calls. He was well aware of the parvo and yet continued to sell all the other puppies. How can he do that? I will never ever again buy from a pet store—this was our first and our last time.
Elizabeth Anderson sums a puppy mill well in this excerpt from her book The Powerful Bond Between People and Pets: Our Boundless Connection to Companion Animals:
“We may not know how many there are, but we know what they do, and Puppy Haven Kennel, which is north of Madison, WI, is typical of their sorry operations. It is a ‘dog compound’ that sells 3,000 puppies a year. Nearly 1,000 dogs at a time are housed in a series of long buildings, cordoned off by chain link fencing. One whelping house has 4,3000 square feet filled with 400 dogs, most of them puppies, in 120 elevated cages. Fourteen employees, some part-time and family members, care for the animals. That means one person to care for around 115 puppies each day, if you only count the puppies.”
The conditions these dogs have to live in are deplorable. They are kept in small kenels, there’s overcrowding, nonexistent veterinary care, poor quality food and water and in some instances none at all. The dogs are not protected from the elements or groomed. The “breeders” inhumanely kill (often shot, left for dead in trash cans or tied to bricks and drowned) dogs that are no longer high producing.
“It’s estimated that 4 million dogs are bred in puppy mills every year.”
If these words don’t paint enough of a picture for you on what happens to these dogs maybe these photos will. They are tame compared to the horrors that go on. If you’re really interested type in “puppy mill dogs” in your google picture search and see what comes up.
Daily living conditions for a puppy mill dog
- A dog after being rescued from a puppy mill