Virginia: Saturday is Puppy Mill Awareness Day

Story by Sara Christopherson

Recently, the Humane Society of the United States posted an article on their website stating that Virginia was the next big “Puppy Mill State.” A five-month, undercover investigation by The HSUS revealed a substantial Virginia puppy-mill industry that is largely unregulated and often in violation of state and federal laws. Millions of people unknowingly buy puppy mill puppies each year, and I’d like to explain how you can avoid it. Virginians should know what is going on in their own backyard. I’m writing this letter today because Sept. 20 is national Puppy Mill Awareness Day.

A puppy mill is a large scale dog-breeding facility. Puppy mills have anywhere from 25 to over 1,000 dogs – more than any pet owner would have. Raising a litter of puppies in a humane, healthy way costs time and money (think of the time, money and effort you expend on your own dog), so to make a profit, puppy mills cut corners. Dogs live in small cages for their entire lives; puppies are sold as young as legally possible; there is no screening for genetic defects; none of the dogs are played with, walked, loved or ever let out of their cages. Many live in filth and are exposed to the harsh elements 365 days a year!

Imagine Yorkies, Bichons, Pugs, Labs, Shepherds, Bulldogs and every other popular dog breed living this way. That’s life for millions of puppy mill dogs because the demand for their puppies is so great.

This is not illegal. However, YOU, as the consumer, must do your homework to be sure you don’t get a puppy mill dog from a pet store, the Internet, or classified ad. Puppy mills sell an estimated 4 million puppies every year – to people who think they’re getting a puppy from a good place.

To be sure you don’t get a puppy from a mill:

1.) Never buy a puppy over the Internet or from a pet store. Period.

2.) Use extreme caution with classified ads. Insist on seeing where adult dogs and puppies live – do not meet the seller at another location.

3.) Adopt your next pet. 11,000 animals die in shelters every single day. Twenty-five percent of shelters dogs are purebred. If your heart’s set on a purebred, search for local breed rescue groups online.

For more information, go to www.awarenessday.org.


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