We’ve made great strides in the fight against puppy mills. California is close to becoming the first state to enact a statewide ban on the retail sale of commercially-bred animals, and hundreds of cities have enacted similar legislation. More people are choosing to adopt, and the term “puppy mill” is known and understood by people of all ages. But as recent rescues show us, the work to put these facilities where animals are mass bred for profit is far from over. There are still people out there who haven’t heard of puppy mills, or who don’t understand the connection between puppy mills and puppies purchased online or through pet stores. 

According to the ASPCA, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. Approximately 2,000-3,000 of these are operating legally and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s shocking to many that these places are even allowed to exist, but due to weak laws and poor enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act — which only requires minimum standards of care to begin with — puppy mills are incredibly difficult to shut down. Sadly, even breeders with a lengthy history of violating the law are allowed to continue operating. Education is key, and there are several ways you can get involved in helping put this cruel industry out of business.

Be a Voice for Puppy Mill Dogs

Organizations across the U.S. are working to educate the public by holding peaceful demonstrations outside of pet stores that have been proven to obtain their puppies from puppy mills. Participating in demonstrations helps raise awareness by calling attention to the issues and exposing how stores are dishonest about the true origin of their puppies. These efforts have helped countless people understand the puppy mill-pet store connection, often resulting in them choosing a more ethical method of getting their next family pet.

Puppy mills continue to exist because of consumer demand, as well as weak laws that allow these operations to remain in business. To tackle the issue on the legislative end, there are organizations doing work quietly behind the scenes by conducting investigations, filing well-documented complaints with government agencies such as the USDA, and lobbying to help implement laws that help protect animals. This work is crucial in helping to shut down puppy mills, pass pet store ordinances, and provide the public with educational materials that expose the truth behind this cruel industry. You can help these organizations by volunteering to assist with research, attending city council meetings, and conducting investigations.

Yet another way to get involved is by volunteering at outreach events. There are both national and local organizations that initiate these efforts, and it’s as simple as standing at a table or booth for a couple of hours while you help educate people about puppy mills. It’s a great way to meet fellow advocates who share a passion for animals while engaging with the public in a meaningful way.

Choose Adoption

Adoption is promoted because close to two million animals die in shelters every year, but it’s also an important part of putting puppy mills out of business. Every time a puppy is purchased from a pet store, it simply creates a spot for another puppy to be bred and sold. And for each puppy in the pet store, there are two parents condemned to live in a filthy cage until they’re no longer able to reproduce. Countless videos and photos depict the conditions these dogs are forced to live in, and they prove how this industry is fueled by profit, with no regard for the well-being of animals.  

When you choose adoption you are saving a life and helping to end the demand that helps keep puppy mills in existence. You might not think that one person choosing to adopt makes a difference, but it does. And as more people decide to choose adoption, puppy mills will continue to decrease in size and ultimately cease to exist. 

Getting Started

There are both national and local organizations working in a variety of capacities to help put an end to puppy mills. There’s no comprehensive list of all organizations in the U.S., but you can start by contacting your local Humane Society to see if they know of any organizations in your area. If there isn’t a local organization in your area, join forces with national organizations like ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society and Humane Society of the United States, all of which are heavily active in puppy mill and adoption initiatives. 

The dogs in puppy mills don’t have a voice, so it’s important for us to speak up for them. You can make a difference by getting involved and pledging to always choose adoption. 

Lead image source: ASPCA/Facebook