"How much is this puppy in the window?" Is the classic childhood phrase. It translates into a lovely image of a sweet, innocent puppy sitting happily in the window of a pet store, just waiting for lovely parents to come in and offer him a lifelong home and care. However, the childhood dream does not respond as most dogs come to be in pet stores in the first place – because the reality is far from adorable.
Puppy mills, "puppy mills", are large commercial dog-breeding establishments, typically run on the model of a production farm, which prioritizes owner profit over the health and well-being of dogs and puppies. In such facilities, breeding dogs are typically confined to tiny crowded wire cages and provided with the minimum care necessary to keep them alive. Lack of space, poor nutrition, poor grooming standards, and dog breeding routine are routine in puppy mills, causing a number of serious health problems for dogs. These problems may include severely damaged hair; eye, ear and throat infections; dental problems and severe genetic deformities such as cleft palate.
The best looking puppies that come out of the breeding process are offered for sale through pet stores and other establishments, while those that are not considered eligible for sale are used as breeding dogs until their productivity decreases… when they reach this point they are sacrificed.
In recent years, public awareness of the horror behind puppy mills has begun to grow. A number of dogs rescued from these kennels have inspired their guardians to go public with their stories and raise awareness of abuse at such facilities. An Italian greyhound named Lily inspired Theresa Strader to set up an organization called the National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR). Harley, a stray Chihuahua who was also cared for by the NMDR, has also helped many members of the public become more knowledgeable about the puppy industry. In addition, several US cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, have banned the sale of dog dogs in pet stores.
However, much work remains to be done before the puppy selling industry can be brought to an end. Fortunately, North Shore Animal League America (NSALA) is acting on this issue. They published a petition on Care2 aimed at banning the sale of dogs from these kennels in pet stores across the United States. The petition has already received more than 16,500 signatures from animal lovers who want to ensure that steps are taken to bring the puppy industry to an end.
"As the world's largest animal rescue and adoption organization, we believe all animals deserve medical care, love and attention, which they need for a chance at a happy life," says NSALA. They believe no dog should be forced to suffer the cruelty of being used as a breeding machine on an overcrowded and unhealthy farm… and if you agree, make sure you sign the petition today.