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How to Stop Puppy Mill Cruelty (Follow-Up to "Where ... a $4K Bulldog Comes From?")

Animal Advocate Kerri Ann Hofer outlines simple ways to end the suffering of pets in puppy mills in this follow-up to last week's "Where Do You Think a $4,000 Bulldog Comes From?"

Two weeks ago I wrote about the connection between pet stores, like Puppies of Westport, and commercial breeding facilities called puppy mills in ""  Now, I hope to encourage each of you to take simple steps to help eliminate the need for puppy mills. 

We can stop the suffering of dogs in puppy mills if we all work to spread the word -- it is ultimately through educating others that we will be successful.  Please try to have conversations about pet stores with friends who are not already involved in pet rescue.  Be passionate, but not condescending (we won't win anybody over by being mean).

I am by no means an expert on puppy mills, but I have learned a lot while researching story.  I have a hard time sleeping after watching puppy mill videos online.  Reading about the specific 'breeders' that are used by Puppies of Westport and throughout the state of Connecticut has made the issue very local.

Unbelievably, one of these breeders actually had 984 dogs on her property during a regular USDA inspection in April.  Of the breeders that I have researched, violations range from poor veterinary care (meaning animals were found by USDA inspectors to be obviously sick and/or injured and in need of veterinary care) to the 'cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping, and pest control' issues mentioned in the previous article.  I read about dogs with mouth/gum/dental problems, dogs with eye problems, and dogs so matted their fur was 'tightly adhered to the skin'  including a Maltese whose 'matting on his back was one solid matt covering 75% of his back' and a Cairn Terrier who 'had clumped matted hair on her chest, back, belly, legs and had solid matted hind quarters' and dogs with hair loss and tumors. 

The term 'drainage and waste disposal' came up multiple times.  Dogs were found that did not have shelter from rain or sun, or who were forced to temporarily live in standing water.  Ventilation appears to be a problem as a 'strong ammonia odor' is noted on some reports.  And there were dogs who were transported in unsanitary conditions. 

This is by no means a complete list, and only covers the few breeders I had time to research.  Some breeders did not have any violations -- so that still means that these dogs spend their lives in tiny, crowded cages often standing on wire mesh.  Many reports describe the dogs as living in elevated 'hutch-style' cages.  Would you keep your dog in a hutch?  Many breeders are now using self-feeding and watering systems, eliminating the need for any personal interaction.    Even the best puppy mills are hell-holes.

But I believe the puppy store industry is not only built on cruelty, but deception as well.  Customers who walk into a bright, shiny Puppy Store are greeted with a smile and led to believe that they are contributing to an ethically and humanely run industry that values pets the same way they do.  I believe the store owners take advantage of every customer who thinks they are purchasing a healthy and humanely-raised pet from a great breeder.  In reality, these very breeders sell their puppies to many other pet stores throughout the state, and across the country.  Each store is just another drop-off point for the truck delivering them from the Midwest puppy pipeline. 

If you feel you have been taken advantage of by a pet store owner in Connecticut, please let me know.  You can contact a member of the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills at ctpuppystores@yahoo.com.  Please also contact us if you would like to get involved (we do more than protest).

If you purchased a sick pet from a puppy store, you may be able to recoup some of your vet bills.  The Connecticut Puppy Store Lemon Law allows you to be reimbursed for certain bills up to $500. (a drop in the bucket, I know, but at least it's something) and still keep your pet.  This is crucial as most people do not want to give their dog back to a puppy store.  You get the money and you get to keep your pet.  And, the money comes directly from the pet store you purchased your puppy from. 

Also, if you see something in a pet store that doesn't look right, such as a puppy that seems sick, or a puppy that has outgrown its cage, please call the State Department of Agriculture/Animal Control at (860) 713-2506. 

On a happier note, I am pleased to report that Tigger, the adorable bulldog from Long Island Bulldog Rescue who was featured in my previous story, has found a fantastic home :)  If you are interested in adopting a pet, but don't  know how to get started, the best resource is petfinder.com.  Through it you can find great local rescues, such as PAWS which is just a short drive from Puppies of Westport.  I've included a few pictures of pets who are available for adoption from PAWS.

Please help spread the word -- forward, share and start conversations about pet stores and puppy mills.  Thank You!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Delainey Sheehan August 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Another great article
Leslie Yager August 03, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Great news about Tigger!
Ilona Zimmer August 03, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Thank you so much for this story! People don't want to believe that puppy mills exist and/or don't want to know what really happens at these facilities. These are not reputable breeders who truly care about a specific breed or even places that care one bit about the animals they use to make a profit. There are so many animals in shelters in this country and millions are euthanized every year. Please tell people to go to shelters every chance you get. These animals are grateful for the love you can give them and you will be rewarded with the love you receive. And if you live in a home or apartment where you cannot have pets then go volunteer at a shelter. It will do wonders for how you feel about yourself and will do wonders for the pets at the shelter.
Ilona Zimmer August 03, 2012 at 11:46 PM
And THANK YOU for showcasing our dogs -- we have many more and invite everyone over to come meet them at PAWS or visit www.pawsct.org or see others at www.petfinder.org.
Glen K Dunbar August 04, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I understand better now and am sorry if I upset the apple cart by getting our Dogs at the above mentioned store. They seemed like real nice people....even the Foreign guy. Not that I have anything against foreign people coming to USA....even if they Do and ARE fairimng better than Glen. Of course everyone fairs better than Glen. Especially when it comes to Medical insurance and life in general. Stinks. Unfair GLEN

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