This November in Missouri, the nation's number one puppy mill state, voters will vote on a measure to stop puppy mill abuse. Prop B. would establish common sense standards for the care of dogs in Missouri's approximate 3,000 puppy mills. Home to 30% of all puppy mills in this country, Missouri dogs are shipped all over the country, sold to pet stores and directly to consumers over the internet.
Puppy mills have become a massive industry, where dogs are crammed into small and filthy cages, denied veterinary care, food and clean water. They are exposed to extreme heat and cold and given no exercise or human affection. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs (it is also not unusual for these cages to be stacked up in columns).
In order to maximize profits at these puppy mills, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When, after a few years, they are physically depleted to the point that they can no longer reproduce, they are often killed. Due to the frequent poor breeding condition in these mills, the puppies bred there often suffer health problems. Because puppy mill operators fail to apply proper husbandry practices that would remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, puppies from puppy mills are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions.
Recently I was forced to euthanize my 3 year old German Sheppard, Luca, who was the product of a puppy mill. After 3 years as a wonderful pet, and a trusted companion I noticed that Luca was experiencing pain when moving about. Concerned, I took him to the vet where it was discovered that he had a bone disease, which was affecting his mobility and causing him great physical pain. After a second and third opinion, a round of medication, multiple tests, X-rays and MRI's, we were forced to accept the fact that Luca would not be getting better.
As one can imagine it was terribly difficult to make the decision to euthanize Luca. My family was very attached to him but we needed to be in reality in regards to the quality of life he was to have. Whilst in the midst of making this decision our vet informed us that his disease was likely attributed to breeding conditions, as Luca was purchased at a pet store, which his since been closed down to their close ties with puppy mills.
Most people who care about animals certainly are not informed about the cruel and abject reality of puppy mills. They are equally unaware of the emotional, psychological, and long reigning sad effect it has on the unsuspecting buyers of the dogs who become, in our animal loving nation, our best companion, and for some, practically family members. Those who have been as unfortunate as our family has been now understand too well that puppy mills are a nationwide problem. The puppies being bred in Middle America are then shipped to our local pet stores. Some states are more inclined to turn a blind eye than others.
In San Francisco, California, a bill has been proposed which would prohibit the sale of dogs and puppies in pet stores. If this potential bill ends up becoming a law, only fish would be sold in the local pet stores of San Francisco. People looking to buy a dog, would be forced to go through reputable breeders using humane practices, or adopt from local shelters. The fastest way to shut down these puppy mills is for the public to refuse to buy dogs from pet stores. It's a grass roots movement that could completely eliminate the problem.
I strongly encourage those of you who are voters in Missouri to get out in November and vote Yes on Prop B. For those of you, like myself, who do not vote in Missouri, it is our responsibility to get the word out, and to create a national conversation about the travesties that occur in these puppy mills.
Do not buy a puppy from a pet store! Check local shelters first, not only will you be saving a life, but also you will ensure your money is not going to support a puppy mill. Do not buy puppies online. If you decide to buy from a breeder, make sure that you can view the entire facility and meet the mother dog. Truly responsible breeders want to meet you before selling you one of their prized pups, to make sure that they are going to a good home. The ASPCA has an advocacy brigade set up to encourage legislation to ban puppy mills in the United States, as well.
I wanted to write this blog, as a tribute to my loyal friend Luca. Even if you're not an animal lover, you can agree that the practices puppy mills engage in are wrong. We need to stand up to these puppy mills, have them closed down and ensure that these deplorable practices stop.