I meet a lot of dog owners in my travels. During our conversations, I frequently ask, “Where did you get [insert pup’s name]?” And I’m continually confounded by the large number of folks who still say that they bought their pup through an online ad or at a pet store in the mall.
Tomorrow, September 20, 2014, is Puppy Mill Awareness Day. There are some who tout that “99% of all puppies in pet shops come from puppy mills.” So, just what is a puppy mill, anyway?
The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. But, the term “puppy mill” is not defined anywhere in the law nor in its accompanying regulations. The USDA licenses animal dealers, but what really is the difference between a dealer, a commercial breeder, a hobby or backyard breeder, a small scale AKC registered breeder or any of the other types of puppy-producing businesses? Some might say level of care or type of conditions or numbers of animals produced. And, there are shades of differences between each type of breeding facility. How do you decide what you, in good conscience, can tolerate?
Ask for information about a puppy or kitten before you make any decision to buy. Ask for very specific information – the breed, the date and place of birth, the name and address of the breeder, the name and address of the veterinarian attending to the animal and the dates and results of examination. If the seller “cannot” [read: is not willing to] provide this information, ask yourself, “Why?” And, if the seller does provide that information, you must then do thorough research about where the puppy or kitten came from. Only then can you make a competent decision.
It could be a very, very difficult decision – especially if you have already “fallen in love” with an animal. (This is a pet shop’s most effective selling tool.) Or, it could be easy, based on what you discover in your research. You’ll know in your heart what the right decision is for you.Check our resource list links for some additional sources of information on this topic. If you missed our last post about pending legislation in NJ that will require pet sellers to fully disclose the source of the cats and dogs that they are selling, please follow this link.