"Where did you get your dog?" is what I often ask people on the streets during a casual pup greeting. Many dog owners have no idea where their dog REALLY came from.
Your dog is from a breeder? OK. Did you meet the dog's parents? No? Your dog is from a puppy mill.
Was it hard to get the puppy? No? Your dog is from a puppy mill.
Did they ship your dog to you? If so, your dog is from a puppy mill.
Your dog is from a pet store? No, your dog is from a puppy mill.
Your dog is a rescue? Great, let's be friends!
As a mom to three former puppy-mill breeding dogs that were all rescued at various stages of life, I have witnessed firsthand the mental and physical toll the mill took on my dogs, which is why I am very vocal about adoption being someone's only option for welcoming a pet into the home.
While we are acknowledging that factory farming of farm animals is not a best practice as a society, we are slower to recognize the cycle of puppy mills, which is essentially factory farming for dogs.
The moms and dads of puppy-mill puppies are bred at every opportunity, kept in deplorable conditions, and never experience love (let alone grass, chasing a ball, or snuggling).
The life cycle of the puppy mill starts at the pet store window with all those sleeping little puppies, cute as buttons. No, it's not their fault that they are products of the puppy-mill industry, but when we choose to buy into it with our wallets, we create more of a demand. Shockingly, pet stores are still legal in NYC, but some cities have wised up: Chicago, San Francisco, and Phoenix, to name a few.
Pet store employees are trained to lie or are lied to themselves about the origins of these dogs. Photos of farms are often posted out front to welcome customers into a puppy-mill-free zone, but the fact is that no good breeder would ever sell to a pet store.
A lot of people say that they bought a dog and didn’t know at the time. There is still time to help, though! You can:
- Rescue your second pup!
- Try fostering a pet in need. They can light up your life.
- Support great organizations. I work with organizations like the Humane Society of the United States to help raise money and awareness to care for the puppy-mill dogs they rescue during raids.
Many people say they want a certain breed so they don’t want to adopt, but sites like Petfinder allow people to search rescues across America by breed!
And adopting a dog can bring unfathomable joy to your life! The wet noses, wagging tails, and scampering feet of a dog whose live you've saved cannot be matched. Adopted dogs will fill your life with love and gratitude beyond any others. Make your life sweeter by adopting (or fostering) a dog today that needs you, and you will be rewarded with a true best friend. Hey, they may even be an Insta-celebrity in the making!