12/19/2012 02:40 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2013

Puppies Are Not Toys

Whether your pet has been naughty or nice this year, there's a good chance he or she is still going to get something special for the holidays. A recent Edge Research poll, commissioned by the ASPCA, found that 37 percent of American adults plan to buy holiday gifts for pets this year. That means that more than 88 million animal lovers will be out in force looking for the perfect gift. Sadly, we know that most of these well-intentioned consumers will unwittingly support the puppy mill industry with their purchases.

Nearly 60 percent of shoppers would consider buying gifts for their pets at stores that also sell puppies, meaning that they would be using their dollars to support practices that enable puppy mills. Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, which are large-scale breeding operations where dogs are raised in filthy and overcrowded conditions.

Most pet gifts are purchased in retail stores rather than online. In fact, our poll found that 87 percent of pet gifts were to be purchased in brick-and-mortar stores, 55 percent of which were designated as pet stores. Since the average spending per person is $30, a staggering $2.5 billion will be spent at pet stores (retail and online combined). Imagine the impact if all of these dollars were spent at stores that did not support the puppy mill industry by selling puppies.

All pets, dog and cats alike, will enjoy toys and supplies purchased from puppy-free stores every bit as much as those purchased at stores selling puppies, so why not exercise your consumer power by only purchasing toys and other supplies at stores that do not support the puppy mill industry? Please also visit and take the ASPCA's pledge to refuse to shop at pet stores and on websites that sell puppies. That is one easy way that you can make a difference in the fight against puppy mills.

Another way you can help is by sharing a video entitled "Puppies Are Not Toys," which dramatically compares the way the puppy mill industry treats dogs to the way plush toys are discarded after the holidays. We think our video has a really great message, and we'd love for it to reach as many people as possible. After you watch our "Puppies Are Not Toys" video, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, and kindly ask them to share it, too. Be sure to use the hashtag #NotAToy.

Nothing will be more appreciated by your pet this holiday season than time with you, whether it be playing, walking or talking with him or her. But if you do decide to shop for that special holiday gift for your pet, give your pet the best gift of all: an end to puppy mill cruelty for dogs across the country. Please take the pledge today at Happy holidays!