Best Friends Blog

Putting the bite on puppy mills

As public awareness grows regarding the cruelty inherent in puppy mills and the pressure that puppy sales place on shelters, there is a welcome trend that is putting the squeeze on commercial breeding operations from both the supply and the demand side of this rotten business. Public sentiment is turning against the mills and their pet store outlets, pointing to the inevitable end of puppy mills.

Last November, Missouri voters passed Proposition B, which put previously unimagined constraints on puppy mills in that state. Passing such a regulation in the current political climate was an indication of how animal cruelty issues cut across all party boundaries. The proposition was reversed and replaced by compromised legislation under pressure from the agriculture lobby in Missouri, but the fact remains that voters in the state that is home to more puppy mills than anywhere else in the country stood up to say no to the abuses of commercial breeders.

Likewise, a Best Friends–sponsored bill in Nevada, the puppy mill bill (Senate Bill 299), has been signed by the governor.  This impactful piece of legislation sets in place a statewide breeder permit system that includes inspections and fees, and also requires all dogs to be microchipped and vaccinated. Breeding dogs cannot be bred under the age of 18 months and are restricted to one litter per year.

While puppy-producer states are slowly making incremental improvements in their commercial breeding standards, consumer communities are taking matters into their own hands by banning the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores altogether in favor of shelter and rescued pet adoptions. The 2006 ban on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has led to a huge increase in shelter pet adoptions and a decline in shelter killing. El Paso, Texas, passed an ordinance banning the sale for profit of any dog less than one year of age. To date, nine cities have passed such bans, including Austin, Texas; Lake Worth, Florida; Toronto, Canada; and most recently, Fountain, Colorado.

In Southern California, Best Friends has led peaceful protests against pet store puppy mill sales for three years, resulting in the conversion of several stores to a humane, “rescue only” model, while some of the most egregious promoters of puppy mill sales have shut their doors for good rather than switch to humane sourcing of pets.

Recently, following the public outcry against the sale of pets from high-volume breeders, the city of Los Angeles and the neighboring city of Glendale, California, have passed motions approving the drafting of ordinances that will ban the sale of mill-bred animals. Longtime friends of the animals Paul Koretz and Tony Cardenas put the L.A. motion forward (Councilman Cardenas helped launch Best Friends’ local Puppies Aren’t Products campaign in 2008 through several public appearances and press conferences).

Don’t get me wrong — we still have a long way to go — puppy mills still crank out around 4 million dogs a year, and in some communities 25 to 30 percent of shelter dogs are believed to be from commercial breeding operations. Mills are a huge problem both for the cruelty that takes place within their operations and because each puppy mill pet sold represents a home that might otherwise have adopted a shelter pet.

Still, the news and the trends are favorable. The public is waking up, and that’s what matters because public demand is what drives the very nasty business of puppy mills.

For a glimpse at a pet store in Glendale, California, that changed its business model to a humane sourcing of pets with the help of Best Friends, click here.

For more information on how you can help make a difference in your community please check out: How to Organize a Peaceful Pet Store Demonstration and join the Best Friends Legislative Action Center to receive animal legislative alerts. Check out the puppy mill initiatives from Best Friends for further inspiring stories, legislative updates and resources.

Julie Castle
Senior Director, Communications

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  • Wednesdaychild53

    Google Hunte Corporation and Kathy Jo Baruck of “Pick of the Litter” Kennel to see that our wonderful government, the INEPT USDA and our NO JUSTICE legal system CANNOT or WILL NOT protect these innocent dogs trapped in this MASSIVE  HELL ON EARTH enterprise.  

  • Linda Blauch

    Great blog. Thanks Julie, for clearly showing all the positive steps that have been taken thus far. 

  • luciearl

    Thank you Bestfriends.Recently visiting the L.A. area, I visited with every dog possible I came across. Happy to hear all were from shelters. Now just have to work on the neutering of pit bulls that hang out on Venice Beach. 

  • Stoneridge5

    The atrocities of puppy mills need to be exposed and the public needs to be made aware of where those cute little puppies in the pet stores come from.  Good article.

  • The Social Pet

    One down and only thousands of pet shops to go! 

    I thought the shop owner made it very clear that he made a lot of money selling puppies from brokers to the public. It was probably a staple of his shop. He is taking a big risk because he knows he can not get the cash he was getting for the purebred puppies that he will get for a shelter puppy. That is the bottom line. These shops make a lot of money selling expensive purebred puppies. Nobody will pay several hundred dollars or more for a shelter pup. He has to figure out another way to make up that difference. If he goes out of business, what good will all this go. I wish him all the luck in the world.

    I think Best Friends should approach Paris Hilton and get her to endorse their plan. That one person’s endorsement will go a long way in the public’s opinion, especially to young people who idolize her. She is seen by millions carrying around her pocket Chihuahuas that she probably paid a lot of money for. 

  • Lovefelines2003

    Slowly but surely, I believe as you do, that we will come to a time when there are no more puppy mills and pet stores selling these poor souls who come from them.  Public awareness and education are key.  Thank you Best Friends for being one of the leaders in this critically important cause.  Making money off the backs of innocent animals is inexcusable.  One rather stupid question – the pet stores that sell kittens – do they get these from catteries?  Do catteries still exist in large numbers?  I haven’t been in a pet store in decades so not even sure if they even sell kittens anymore.  Given the huge number of strays, community cats, and cats and kittens put down in shelters, this too should be part of the fight. As should rabbits sold in stores.  It all just stinks.

    • Dr Frank

      To answer your not-at-all-stupid question: Yes. There are mills for virtually all of the pet store animals. Kitten mills, hamster mills, hedgehog mills, sugar glider mills, and much more. They are all bad, but some of the most atrocious are the parrot mills. Not only are the breeding birds kept in inhumane conditions, but with lifespans as long as humans they can be kept in these conditions for many decades. Thank you for asking, and please help us spread the word. 

      • Lovefelines2003

        Thank you Dr. Frank.  I didn’t know there were parrot mills!  Do you think this is something Best Friends could work on?  Where do all these horrible mills exist primarily?  Makes me so sad, so angry, so hopeless some days.

        • Dr Frank

          We are working on educating people about the different mills (and I forgot to mention another important one — the rabbit mills), yet, as you are aware, our primary focus has been on the puppy mills. We will eventually raise awareness on all levels so that it will no longer be acceptable to treat any animals as production machines — it’ll just take time. Please don’t feel hopeless, as any time you can spread the word to others you will help bring about that happier time for all of the animals. 

  • Anonymous

    Good blog.  The time has come to finally make animal cruelty unacceptable in society.  We know animals suffer and they suffer tremendously in the hands of animal abusers.  Time to stop this madness.  

    • The Social Pet

      Since when has animal cruelty ever been acceptable. Animals have been suffering at the hands of “man” for eternity. The Internet only get this information out to in front of people and they see what actually has been happening under their own noses for a very long time. 

      • Anonymous

        There’s a lot of people all over the world that have no problem seeing animals suffer and it is acceptable in some societies.  The point is to show these people what other people already know.  That cruelty to people or humans is not acceptable.