EDITORIAL: Put an end to the puppy mill pipeline

Charlie, a Siamese cat, chills out while listening to an iCalmCat device at the Saratoga County Animal Shelter in Ballston Spa. Right, Keira checks out a new Amazon Echo Dot device at the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville. (photos provided)
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Charlie, a Siamese cat, chills out while listening to an iCalmCat device at the Saratoga County Animal Shelter in Ballston Spa. Right, Keira checks out a new Amazon Echo Dot device at the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville. (photos provided)

About 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in animal shelters every year in the United States.

Unadopted. Unwanted. Killed. Dead.

Also in the United States, there are 10,000 puppy mills operating legally and illegally, providing about 2 million puppies for breeding and sale, mostly through commercial pet stores and the internet.

The conditions in many of these breeding mills are atrocious.

According to the nonprofit Puppy Mill Project, there’s no limit on the amount of dogs that may be kept in a facility.

The animals are often kept in tiny cages with wire or mesh flooring, with barely enough room to move around, the same tiny cages where they eat, sleep and defecate.

There is no requirement for a minimum number of staff at these facilities, meaning dogs are very likely not being given adequate care and attention.

Human interaction is not required. And the dogs live in these cages 24 hours, only let out to be bred, then returned.

In addition, dogs bred at puppy mills often have congenital issues resulting from poor breeding. Not only does that result in sick animals being adopted out, but in costly veterinary bills for those families that adopt these animals.

Yet puppy mills continue to thrive, as there are not enough federal inspectors to monitor them adequately. Both enforcement and citations declined during the Trump administration.

There’s a way to help end the puppy mill pipeline and ensure that pets are afforded the opportunity to live in good homes where they are loved and cared for.

The state Senate on Wednesday pushed through a bill (A4283/S1130) that would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores, essentially choking off much of the supply chain that fuels the profits of puppy mills.

The bill, versions of which have been pending in the Legislature for a number of years, would prohibit the state’s 80 retail pet stores from selling animals bred at commercial breeders.

The stores could, in cooperation with humane societies and local animal shelters, display and promote the adoption of animals from animal shelters.

And legitimate breeders would not be affected.

There are plenty of opportunities to adopt a pet from an animal shelter without having to buy one bred in horrific conditions from a retail pet store.

Passage of this legislation won’t end all unscrupulous sales of poorly treated animals, nor would it stop animal shelters from buying dogs from puppy mills, as some do.

The state needs to do more to cut off other avenues for the sale of these animals.

But its passage is an important step and will go a long way to ending the puppy mill pipeline. Let’s hope the Assembly does the right thing and passes it on for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature soon.

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