It seems that almost everyone who works with or lives with dogs is against puppy mills.
If so many people are against puppy mills, then why are they still alive and thriving?
Why is it so difficult to stop puppy mills?
- Many people do not know about puppy mills.
- Government controls and taxes on dog breeding may also adversely impact reputable breeders.
- Banning or controlling the sale of dogs from pet stores is often unpopular because it limits consumer choice, and makes it difficult and more expensive to get purebred dogs.
Below we consider each of these issues and what we can all do to help stop puppy mills.
Stop Puppy Mills 1 – Spread the Word
When I was looking to get my first dog, I did not know about puppy mills. The first place I went to get a puppy was the pet store. The next place I went to look for a puppy was an online pet store.
I did not do much research into dogs until after my puppy started 10 kinds of hell including biting one me, leash biting, humping my leg, and much more from his Shiba Greatest Hits album. If my puppy were more easy-going, I may not even know about puppy mills or the pet stores and online stores that they supply.
Therefore, the first step to stopping puppy mills is to get the information out there. One of the best places to distribute such information is in our schools. Children are usually very interested in learning about animals and dogs, much more so than adults.
If you are involved in the school system, please consider doing a field trip to a nearby SPCA or Humane Society. Alternatively, invite speakers over from a nearby animal shelter or rescue to teach about caring for animals, puppy mills, and what everyone can do to stop puppy mills.
The best way to convey this information and win over the hearts and mind of others is to use facts, rational arguments, and positive language. Most people who want to get dogs already love dogs and care for their welfare. Therefore, most of the battle is already won. We simply need to communicate the necessary information in a way that is easy to absorb.
Scolding, personal insults, shouting, righteous indignation, and being generally rude will only drive others away from our cause. Once we alienate a person, he will no longer wish to listen to us. He may not even want to listen to others with the same message because of previous negative associations. These antagonistic methods do not help anyone, least of all our dogs. Truth need not be conveyed with anger or meanness in our hearts.
To help stop puppy mills get the information out there in a positive way. If nobody buys from puppy mills, nobody will want to run them.
Stop Puppy Mills 2 – Government Controls on the Breeding and Sale of Dogs
Another common way to stop puppy mills is through more laws around the breeding and sale of dogs. A few years ago, many of the rescue organizations in my area tried to pass a bill to raise the license fees of un-neutered pets. The higher license fees would create a strong economic incentive to get residents to neuter their pets, and therefore lower the number of unwanted cats and dogs.
Even though there was a fair amount of support, the bill was ultimately defeated. Many similar bills that try to protect the welfare of dogs, curb puppy mill practices, and help reduce the number of unwanted pets do not make it into law, even at the local level. Why?
A key reason is because such laws also have a negative impact on reputable breeders. For example, the higher license fees on un-neutered pets will likely place undue financial burdens on reputable breeders, and they may no longer be able to breed dogs.
Reducing the number of reputable breeders will also make it difficult and more expensive to buy purebred puppies.
Instead of placing more controls on the dog breeding process, we can put more controls at the point of sale.
Some cities ban pet sales from pet stores. However, any type of banning quickly becomes problematic and unpopular because it necessarily limits consumer choice and infringes upon individual freedoms. There are also valid concerns about black markets developing around the sale of animals.
An alternative plan is to require potential pet owners to take a class. However, this plan is problematic because it gives some government official the power to set what constitutes proper dog care and training.
At the end of the day, trying to stop puppy mills through government controls or special taxes is a complex proposition that has many unintended side-effects. It is unclear how effective such laws will be in stopping puppy mills and they may instead raise new problems.
Another less consumer intrusive possibility is to require pet stores to put up warning signs about their puppy mill dogs. In addition, we could also require them to hand out pamphlets about puppy mills to all their clients. This provides relevant information at the point of sale to all potential dog owners, and at the same time it does not limit consumer choice.
Stop Puppy Mills 3 – Stronger Animal Protection Laws
Instead of targeting puppy mills through stricter dog breeding and dog sale laws, perhaps we can address the source of the problem – the actual abuse and cruelty to animals.
If we broaden our animal protection laws, we can specifically target puppy mills and leave reputable breeders alone. However, animal abuse cases are extremely difficult to prove. It requires witnesses to observe the abuse occurring and to come forward and report such abuses. Naturally, puppy mills do not let just anyone come onto their premises.
Building an animal abuse case and then later enforcing the ruling of the Court also places a very heavy burden on our Animal Care and Control Services or animal rescue organizations, which are already under-funded and overburdened.
For example, if animal abusers were banned from owning future pets, we would need to send someone to keep checking up on them. Similarly, if puppy mills are required to provide their pets with a certain minimal level of care, we would also need to fund constant inspections.
I support stronger and broader animal protection laws and in a perfect world, this will certainly help stop puppy mills. However, in reality, such laws are difficult and expensive to enforce and oversee. Since our local and federal governments are already bankrupt, it is unlikely that we can fund something like this.
How to Stop Puppy Mills
Indeed, the best way to stop puppy mills is to tell as many people as we can about them. If your friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors are thinking of getting a dog, then let them know about puppy mills and recommend nearby adoption sites, or local reputable breeders.
The internet is also a great place to spread the word. For example, there are many people looking for information on general dog forums or on Yahoo! Answers.
- The best way to help ours dogs is to get people to listen.
- The best way to get people to listen is to convey the facts clearly and in a positive way.
- Do not shout, scold, throw personal insults, or put others down.
You can also join HubPages, or start a blog and write about animal care and animal protection issues.
If every one of us convinces one other person about the facts of puppy mills and so on, we will be well on our way to stopping this cruel enterprise.