The Humane Society of the United States is warning people considering adopting an animal during the pandemic to avoid puppy mills and choose animals from shelters instead. Hundreds of puppy mills in the United States have had years of animal rights violations and still continue operations.

The Humane Society is hoping to make all animal lovers hyperaware of the dangers of puppy mills as large numbers of people adopt or foster pets during the coronavirus pandemic. The report is called “The Horrible Hundred,” and is released annually by the organization. The report details cases of mistreatment of animals, including documented cases of sick or emaciated dogs without care or puppies without adequate housing that were exposed to harsh weather conditions.

“We urge the public not to purchase dogs from pet stores or websites, because puppy mills hide behind these fronts,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of The Humane Society. “We also ask families to consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue organization as their first option.”

“As many families consider bringing a new pet into their home amid the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to refuse to support puppy mills and puppy-selling pet stores, and instead help the community by adopting from a shelter or rescue. There are many animals looking for homes through shelters and rescues throughout the country — in fact, this time of year is often called ‘baby season’ due to the influx of kittens and puppies in shelters,” Block said.

The Humane Society is calling for stronger inspection and animal cruelty laws to prevent sale of puppies in pet stores.

“The joys that the human-animal bond has highlighted during this pandemic should not bring misery to breeding dogs stuck in puppy mills,” Block said. “When consumers buy puppies at pet stores, they are unknowingly supporting the suffering and neglect of animals at puppy mills.”

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