Posts Tagged ‘backyard breeders’

Wordless Wednesday #331 – RESCUED

May 3, 2017 2 comments

Uno has been rescued.



Time for a change – Minnesota Dog and Cat Breeder Bill Passes

May 18, 2014 16 comments

IMG_8824Monday could very well be the day that our Minnesota State Governor signs the Dog and Cat Breeder bill into law. Even if it does not happen today or tomorrow, it will be signed into law soon, and that is amazing in and of itself. It has taken close to ten years of hard work to make this happen. From those who did the heavy lifting (you know who you are) to those who called their legislators and rallied at the capitol and committed the time and effort to get us here, you have my (and Daisy and Cupcake and Maggie’s) thanks and gratitude.

So what happens with this bill and when does it begin?


  • Dog and cat breeders operating in the state of Minnesota will be required to be licensed, regardless of whether or not they are a USDA breeder. The licensing process will begin in July. (This means those who sell over the internet can no longer drop their USDA license and think they are safe from scrutiny. It also means that we will have a more accurate data on the breeders that operate in our state.)
  • The Minnesota Board of Animal Health will now have the authority to inspect commercial dog and cat breeding facilities and enforce existing State laws to ensure animal care standards are met and they will be funded to do so. (This can begin as soon as licenses start coming in or they can start next year, June 30th, the deadline for breeder licenses to be submitted.)
  • The state will also have the ability to apply civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law.

I have no doubt that many breeders will be thinking about whether or not they want to stay in business. For those who do not, there will be the issue of closing down their business. I expect we will see more animals coming into shelters and rescues. We must be ready for them.

For those who stay in business, it will be an adjustment. They will need to pay a license fee, establish and maintain a written protocol for disease control and prevention, euthanasia, and veterinary care of their animals, and identify all known owners of the business. They also must make any USDA violations available to state inspectors, report whether they have ever been convicted of animal cruelty in  the past, and subject themselves to an annual inspections. In other words, they will face more scrutiny than ever before.

Change is coming to Minnesota breeders. They only question is how successful will it be? I guess that is dependent on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and us. Our vigilance will be required. There are those who will gladly look for ways to weaken this law.

My personal hope is that people like Deborah Beatrice Rowell will find it harder to do business like they did before. She owns the puppy mill that Maggie came from and is back in business today. If this law makes it hard enough to make her quit, then that would truly be a blessing, especially for the dogs like Maggie, who have not yet escaped.
Claiming the bed

How much is that doggie in your browser? You’d be surprised.

February 4, 2013 21 comments

I thought I would start you off with a few numbers today.


That’s the total number of ads for puppy sales that appeared on just nine (9) high-volume puppy sale websites (yes on the internet) on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.

I’ll give you another number.

733, 131

The number of individual puppies that appeared for sale in ads on those same nine high-volume puppy sale websites that same day.

And yet, one more number for you.


The very conservative number of puppies estimated to have come from puppy mills that appeared on those sites (in online ads) that same day. (If this number were to be extrapolated to the number of puppies appearing in these online ads over 365 days that would be 81,813,560 puppies a year.)

So where did these numbers come from? A report issued by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2012. They generated these numbers by studying nine online sites known for their high-volume sale of puppies.  The methodology was the same one used by IFAW in their 2008 investigation into the online sales of endangered species products.

You can read the full report here, and I encourage you to do so, but I wanted thought I would share some of the highlights of the report with you today.

As you think about the push against pet stores who sell puppies from puppy mills, I want you to keep in mind where the real high-volume sales are occurring these days. It’s not in a bricks and mortar mom-and-pop pet shops, but online, where puppy millers are NOT subject to USDA inspection.

So let’s get to it. So what were the nine online sites included in the IFAW study?

Six high-volume puppy sale sites:

  • Animaroo – based out of Missouri, that has over 300,000 monthly visitors
  • DogsNow – a California-based business that is a service of
  • NextDayPets* – a Maryland-based business that has over 3,000,000 (3 million) visitors per month
  • PuppyFind* – based out of Arizona and has over 300,000 visitors per day
  • PuppyTrader – based out of Pennsylvania and serves U.S. and Canadian visitors
  • Terrific Pets – a North Carolina based business and operates as a platform for buyers and sellars

*These two websites are being used by a Wisconsin-based “animal shelter” to sell the puppies they are breeding to “raise money for their no-kill shelter”. I wrote about it last week.

And, three general buyer-seller platforms engaged in puppy sales:

  • Craigslist – A California-based business that operates as a free online version of a newspaper classified ads
  • eBay Classifieds – a subsidiary of eBay based out of California and operates as an online classifieds platform
  • Oodle – a California-based business that provides a “friendly local marketplace to buy, sell and trade”

Keep in mind that these are only the nine high-volume sites. There are many other medium or small sites in existence today that were not included, and more are being created every day.

IFAW referenced an HSUS three-month study into a “single online seller who advertised puppy mill dogs on nearly 800 Web domains designed to appear like local breeders selling online.” The online puppy sale industry is big bucks and puppy mills are in the thick of it.

On this one day, Wednesday, July 18, 2012, IFAW pulled a percentage of ads from these sites and analyzed them based on a pre-defined set of criteria (see page 5 pf the report for the criteria list).

Here is a summary of their findings revealed the following results (based on that one day):

Percentage of ads that came from “likely puppy mills”

Projected number of puppies advertised per site on day of investigation:

Are you shocked yet? I was too when I first read the report. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the number of puppy mills turning to online sales. I had no idea.

Now I know why so many Minnesota large-scale breeders have chosen to let their USDA licenses to lapse. Now I know why so many are turning to selling their puppies online. It’s big business. It’s money-making business. It’s also unregulated – no inspections, no criminal violations, no worries. Going online offers puppy mills all the secrecy they desire with no repercussions. Scary huh?
Puppy mill kennels

A Lab is a Lab is a Lab is a Lab…

March 27, 2012 14 comments

While out at the Pet Expo on Saturday, I had the chance to see the dock-diving demonstration. It was great to see all the different kinds of dogs that compete in dock diving – Shepherds, Border Collies, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and mixes of all kinds. I couldn’t help but giggle at the dogs that were so excited to jump they could hardly sit still, much less stay in a “stay”. It was like watching a child on Christmas morning waiting to open presents.
(I have shared a few pictures below for you to enjoy. I apologize for some of the blurriness, but those dogs were moving faster than the camera on my phone could capture!)

The one thing that disappointed me about the dock diving demonstration wasn’t really the dock diving, but the commentator. During his running commentary on the demonstration, he took time to call out these “new” Labrador Retriever breeds called “White Labs” and “Silver Labs”. I just shook my head and commented to my friends about what he had said.

Statements like these make me so angry. This is not truth in any way. Statements like these are intentionally created to mislead people about dogs, and in this case, Labs in particular. It’s like creating a dog with a cute name like “Yorkie-Poo” and then selling it to unwitting people as a “designer dog” or new breed. The only intent of this cute naming process is money. In essence, a Yorkie-Poo is a mutt, but the cute name somehow makes it worth the $1000 people pay for it (kind of like “new and improved” sells laundry detergent). A cute name means sales and that means puppy mills will be more than happy to breed lots and lots of these dogs if it brings them lots and lots of money.

Calling a Yellow Labrador Retriever a cute name like “White Lab” is just that, a cute name. It’s still a Yellow Lab. Calling a Chocolate Labrador Retriever a “Silver Lab” doesn’t make it any less a Chocolate Lab. It’s simply a genetic dilution of a Chocolate Lab, and in some cases it’s actually a Lab crossed with a Weimaraner.

My point here is that people create these cute names for a reason and it has nothing to do with the betterment of the breed and everything to do with the dollar amount that people charge for these so-called “special” dog breeds. When a breed with a cute name becomes popular it means more of these dogs will be sold by puppy mills so they can make a quick profit. Daisy likely came from just such a mill. She is a Yellow Labrador Retriever who just happens to be closer to white in color than most Labs, but she is still a Yellow Lab. I wonder how much her puppies sold for? Were they sold as “White Labs” too? My bet is they were. Perhaps you can understand my anger and frustration with those who would purport to call these dogs a “new breed.”

I wrote about this issue a couple of years ago. In that piece I referenced a link to a post called “Don’t pay more for an “out of standard” dog”. I really encourage you to read it, especially if you are looking to get a “white” or “silver” Lab.

Just an added word on cute names for dog breeds. If it sounds cute and it’s not a recognized breed in the registries (AKC and others), then it’s most likely not a “new breed” at all, but a designer dog or a traditional dog breed with different coloring, that was created for one reason only – profit.

Dog for Sale -Yes. I Walked Away

March 14, 2012 38 comments

I don’t tell this story to many people, partly because it’s not something I would share in a normal conversation, but mostly because I have such conflicting emotions about the choice I made.

It happened several years ago, shortly after my Sheltie, Alicia, had died at the ripe old age of fifteen. My family and I had been talking about getting another Sheltie for a while, when I saw an ad in the paper offering Shelties for sale. We had loved Alicia so much. She had had such a great little personality. We wanted another dog like her to fill the hole that had been left behind when she left us.

The ad provided a number and I called it. The woman said she was located in Princeton Minnesota, almost 60 miles from home, and gave me directions to her home. My sister and I agreed that we would make the trip and call my mother once we got there so she could offer some input in the decision.

Even though an hour away, we didn’t mind the drive. After all, we were going to get a new dog!

The lady had told me to go through downtown Princeton and keep going for a few miles and then look for a specific mailbox. We watched for the mailbox as soon as we left town and finally saw what we were looking for. As we turned into the dirt driveway, we noticed a ramshackle white mobile home. It was small and dirty and looked like it had not been well maintained. The yard was much the same.

Right away, we could hear lots of barking coming from inside. LOTS of barking. My heart sank a little. This did not seem like the place I had imagined. We pulled up to the house and watched as a lady came outside. hat I noticed right away was that she shut the door tightly behind her. No little Shelties came out with her. In fact, there were no other animals outside at all. Not one family pet running around to greet us. Maybe she didn’t want to create more chaos by letting her dogs out too?

Instead of leading us back to the house (where all the barking was coming from), she led us to a barn back behind the house. As we walked with her, she told us a little more about the dog we were about to see. She talked about the dog’s parents as if they were beloved family pets, but I know now that this was most likely a bunch of lies. A story she told people to make them think her dogs were coming from a loving family home (“family-raised”). The truth is, to her this was nothing more than a business transaction. She didn’t even seem all that emotionally affected by the fact that she would be losing a dog. A beloved family pet.

We walked into the barn and she led us to a stall. She waved her hand over the stall door at the little Sheltie standing inside. She was a beautiful sable Sheltie, not a puppy, but a grown dog. She looked very scared. There was also something odd about her. She was really, really quiet. She didn’t bark. She didn’t jump at the stable door trying to greet us. She didn’t even spin around in excitement in typical Sheltie manner. Instead, she just stood there. Silent. She had a look that in her eyes that I now know, having seen it in my own Daisy’s eyes, she was shut down. Not only was she not engaging with us, she wasn’t engaging with anybody, not even the woman who supposedly had cared for her in her home. Not what I would call “normal.”

We cooed over how pretty she was, but it was half-hearted on my part. I already had a sneaking suspicion that something was very wrong here. The woman told us a little about the Sheltie, but I don’t remember much about the conversation. My mind was already stewing over my suspicions and the conflict it presented.

I told the woman I needed to call my mother to get her input and approval, but my cell phone wouldn’t work. I tried it outside the barn, but no luck. I told my sister that I couldn’t seem to get a signal and then turned to the woman and told her I would need to go into town to see if I could get a signal so I could speak with my mother. Suddenly, the woman looked a little nervous. A red flag?

As we drove down the driveway, I turned to my sister and said “I think this is a puppy mill. I don’t think I can take this dog.” When she asked why, I told her that if I purchased this Sheltie I would be supporting a puppy mill. I just didn’t think I could do that. Could I?

I struggled to decide what to do as we drove back into town. What a decision. Rescue a Sheltie that was clearly in a bad situation and support a puppy mill? Or, leave the Sheltie behind and know that I had chosen not to give my money to a puppy miller? No wonder so many people choose to take the puppy. What kind of choice is that?

I wish I could say that I made the right choice that day. The truth is I don’t know if I did or not. What I do know is that I called my mother when we got back to town. That I shared my suspicions with her about the woman and the dog. I also told her I didn’t think I could buy the dog knowing I would be supporting a puppy mill. She supported my decision, knowing it was not an easy decision for me.

I didn’t drive back to the woman’s place that day, but instead drove home with a heavy heart, wondering if I made the right decision. To this day, I wonder about that little dog. What ever happened to her? Did she ever get a home? Did she die in that horrible place? Part of me wishes I knew the answers to those questions. But, maybe it is better not to know.

I share this story with you because I want you to know that I know what it’s like to walk away from a puppy in a mill. I know how hard a decision it is to leave a dog behind. Living with my decision is not easy, especially knowing I will never know what happened to that poor dog. That’s why I more motivated than most to change the laws in this state. No one should have to make that kind of decision, but more than that, no dog should have to live like this dog did.

That’s why I am asking my fellow Minnesotans to join me in asking our state legislators to change the laws. Animal welfare groups have been working for SEVEN years to change the laws in this state, to no avail, but my hope is that this year will be the year. Something needs to change and the only way that can happen is if all of us say “No more!” Will you join me?

So how can you help? Choose to do just TWO of the actions below.

1. SIGN the petition supporting dog and cat breeder regulation in Minnesota.

2. TWEET this post to your friends and family and ask them to sign the petition and contact their Minnesota state legislator.

3. SHARE this post with your friends and family on Facebook and ask them to sign the petition and contact their Minnesota state legislator.

4. ASK your veterinarian and his/her vet techs to sign the petition in support of this bill. Ask them to indicate they are a vet or vet tech in the last box on the petition. (You can also contact and she will mail you the petition forms and literature on the bill.) 217 vets and vet techs have already signed the petition. Let’s double those numbers!

5. SHARE your own story about buying a cat or dog or rescuing a puppy mill dog. I welcome any and all of your stories here, whether inside Minnesota or out, but if from Minnesota please do share it on the AnimalFolksMN site. These will be used to show legislators why there is a need for a law to regulate puppy mills.

6. CONTACT your own Minnesota State Senator and Representative

To find out who represents you, go to: MN District Finder

This link is easy to use. Just type in your address and zip code. It will list who represents you based on where you live. Please contact your State legislators – your MN House Representative and your MN Senator. Click on their names and you will be linked to their phone number, email and address.

NOTE: In addition to the bills’ authors, some legislators have already expressed their support publicly by co-authoring the bills. To find out if your legislator is a co-author, go to: Authors and Co-Authors

7. CONTACT Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton

The bill must first pass through legislative committees and be voted on by the full House and Senate before it reaches the Governor to be signed into law. But we need the Governor to hear your voice now. Please contact Governor Mark Dayton and ask that he support S.F. 462/H.F. 702.

Governor Mark Dayton
Phone: 651-201-3400
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
Fax: 651-797-1850
Email contact form:
Governor Mark Dayton on Twitter
Governor Mark Dayton’s on Facebook.


If you call, you’ll most likely reach voicemail or speak with an aide or assistant. Just be yourself. Speak from the heart. Keep it short and respectful.

NOTE: S.F. 462 is the bill in the Senate. H.F. 702 is the bill in the House.

Example for Senator:
“My name is ________________ (full name). I am a constituent and I live in __________ (city). I’m calling about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding conditions in Minnesota and the need for regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders. I’m asking that my Senator ________________ (name) support S.F. 462, which will license, inspect and regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. This bill is authored by Senator Barb Goodwin. Thank you.”

Example for Representative:
“My name is ________________ (full name). I am a constituent and I live in __________ (city). I’m calling about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding conditions in Minnesota and the need for regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders. I’m asking that my Representative ________________ (name) support H.F. 702, which will license, inspect and regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. This bill is authored by Representative John Lesch. Thank you.

Example for Governor:
“My name is ________________ (full name). I am a Minnesota resident and I live in __________ (city). I’m calling about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding conditions in Minnesota and the need for regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders. I’m asking that Governor Mark Dayton support S.F. 462, authored by Senator Goodwin, and H.F. 702, authored by Representative Lesch. These bills will license, inspect and regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. Thank you.”

For more information on this bill go to AnimalFolksMN.

Fighting Puppy Mills – Do have what it takes? She does.

March 12, 2012 7 comments

A couple of months ago, I met a wonderful animal advocate named Dana Fedman, after she left a comment on my blog. Dana is a CPDT-KA dog trainer from the great state of Iowa, but she is also actively involved in fighting puppy mills, Breed-Specific Legislation and other animal advocacy issues in her state. I was so fascinated by Dana and her motivation to get actively involved in some of the issues that I feel so strongly about, especially puppy mill legislation, that I asked her for an interview. Below, is that interview in its entirety. My hope is that by sharing Dan’s story and how she got involved in being an advocate for animals, it might motivate others (like you) to get involved too. (Please note: This interview occurred on 2011. I am posting it now – in March 2012 – as part of my puppy mill series.)

I chose to share this interview with you this week because I am hoping it will motivate you to contact your state legislator or to sign the petition asking state legislators to pass the MN Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill. Looking to do more? Here are some ideas on how to get involved with the Breeder regulation Bill in Minnesota.

My thanks to Dana for being so willing to answer my many questions about what she does.

1. You have been involved in the work to change the Iowa law regarding enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act for USDA licensed kennels. How did you first get started?

I took some instruction on lobbying from our local shelter a few years ago but had never worked up the gumption to actually go to the State Capitol and personally speak to my representatives. My involvement in the past was limited to writing e-mails or faxes and making phone calls, leaving messages at the switchboard, and whenever possible telling my senator or representative about my perspective on how these laws affect companion animals and the people who purchase pets from high-volume commercial breeders.

2. What motivated you to first get involved?

Seeing firsthand the heartache and financial loss experienced by hapless consumers of factory-farmed dogs.

3. Were you nervous about getting involved? And, if so, how did you overcome it?

As a former radio announcer, it’s not difficult for me to write or speak in public. The way to overcome your fear of that is to focus on writing to or talking to one friendly person while at the same time remembering that everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time! What is difficult for me is knowing all the angles of the issue so that potential objections are answered early in the conversation and to restrict what I say to bullet points.

4. What surprised you once you did get involved?

How little difference there is between politics in adult life and life on the grade school playground.

5. As an animal advocate in Iowa, what are some of the things you have done to try to influence your state representatives?

I’ve worked up to speaking directly to my legislators by volunteering for our open-access shelter. Through that experience I’ve learned how things work regarding companion animals in Iowa, and it’s not pretty.

I’ve worked with the shelter’s leadership to change Des Moines’ breed-specific ordinance and lay groundwork for State “puppy lemon laws.”

I’ve spoken at Des Moines City Council meetings on several non-animal issues the last few years, one that affected a real estate development in my neighborhood that would have literally crushed the streets and storm water infrastructure. We fought City Hall and won!

During the work on BSL, I gave them a presentation on dog bite statistics and how our City’s Animal Control was spending more time impounding “vicious by breed” dogs who weren’t running at large or biting people than dealing with actual animal control!

After volunteering as a trainer at that shelter for quite a few years, I used other skills by helping to write new model dangerous/vicious dog ordinances that are now used in our region, but sadly, not in Des Moines.

A few years ago, I had a phone conversation with a high-level staff member of an influential (on Senate ag and ag appropriations committees) senator about proposed changes to the federal Animal Welfare Act as it applies to puppy factories and what the outcome is for consumers.

When there is an animal welfare issue that needs phone calls, faxes or e-mails, I am on a list of grassroots contacts to phone, fax or write legislators at a moment’s notice.

There was a Lobby Day and Iowa Voters for Companion Animals put out a plea for people to come to the Capitol and talk to legislators about the “Ag-Gag Bill.” I finally decided to try it and actually go there and talk to my legislators face-to-face. This is a bill making it illegal to photograph, take video or sound recordings inside an animal facility or any other agricultural business, or to possess photographs, video or sound recordings of the same. The bill also proposes to make it illegal to take a job at an agricultural business under false pretenses with the purpose of “staging” animal abuse only to photograph, video and/or sound record and selectively edit it, thereby damaging and interrupting the business to fundraise for animal rights groups thereby dismantling the entire agricultural industry. Uh-huh. I’m serious.

I talked to my Senator about this bill that had already passed the House. I’d called and e-mailed him many times on this issue. He was responsive, but felt that there was a difference between livestock and companion animal agriculture and that the Ag-Gag bill would not affect dog breeders. My senator could not tell me how this bill excluded puppy factories and I was not satisfied with that answer.

I went to the Representative who introduced the Ag-Gag bill and talked to her for almost an hour. She had recently spoken at the Iowa Pet Breeders Association’s annual conference. This is the commercial high-volume dog breeder’s trade group. She had her eyes opened to what a “puppy mill” is. I came down hard on her for introducing the Ag-Gag bill. She insisted that employees and managers of agribusiness should be the only ones to report mistreatment of animals in these facilities to authorities.

She did provide me with an answer about the reason puppy factories were excluded from the Ag-Gag bill: this category of commercial breeders were never included in the definition of “animal facility” within the bill. Therefore, they would not need to be excluded. Even so, there are usually other livestock on the premises of these breeding facilities that would be included in the Ag-Gag bill. (Did you get all that? I know.)

6. What has been your greatest challenge in trying to change your state’s laws? Your greatest frustration?

With the Ag-Gag Bill, my greatest frustrations are: 1) the unwillingness of the livestock producers and their trade associations to stop protecting their bad actors; and, 2) big ag controls more than I ever imagined.

7. What advice would you have for anyone interested in becoming involved in working to change the animal welfare laws in their own state?

Please, please become involved in your local shelter as either a donor or a volunteer. Foster homes are desperately needed. Supplies are needed. Educate yourself on animal neglect and cruelty issues in your state.

Encourage friends and family how to recognize a puppy mill ( Avoid buying dogs from the newspaper, pet stores (unless they are adopting out homeless pets), the internet, or a website where you are not allowed to see where the animals are kept or meet the parents.

Find out if dogfighting and cockfighting are common in your state. Are they felonies?

Check into breed-specific ordinances brewing in your city.

8. What’s up next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m waiting for the next Legislative session to start. The Ag-Gag bill did not make it to the Senate floor last session. The Legislature had to work overtime for two months on a two-year budget and a $5.9 billion spending plan. Ag-Gag will undoubtedly spit up on the calendar sometime during the upcoming session starting January 9. If I’m needed, I’ll call, e-mail, fax or go down there and squeak up!

(Blogger’s Note: Sadly, the Ag-Gag bill did indeed pass in Iowa just a few weeks ago. I wrote about this news just recently, but I encourage you to check out the impacts this bill will have on animal advocacy in the The Gazette.

Take Action Today! Support Legislation to Regulate Puppy Mills in Minnesota!

March 1, 2011 10 comments

My dog Daisy who came from a puppy mill after having litter after litter

Here in Minnesota it is Take Action Day! What does that mean? It means we need you to take action to help pass one very important piece of legislation – MN Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill (S.F. 462 / H.F. 702).

Call, e-mail, write a letter – it doesn’t matter which (Heck, do all three!) but it is important that you let your legislators know that you want them to pay attention to and support this bill. Don’t know who your state representative and senator are? Go HERE.

The 2011 Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill (S.F. 462/H.F. 702) will provide:
Licensing — Require commercial dog and cat breeders in Minnesota to be licensed
Inspections and Enforcement — Give the Minnesota Board of Animal Health the authority to inspect
commercial dog and cat
breeding facilities and enforce existing State laws to ensure the health and safety of dogs and cats.
Penalties — Impose civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law

Both the Senate (S.F. 462) and House (H.F. 702) bill are what is called companion bills. This means, when first introduced, the bill language for each is identical. As the bills move through the process, the language for each may change through amendments — depending on what Senators or Representatives want.

Have more questions? You can go here to learn more.

You can also watch the debate (link below) over the legislation that appeared on Fox 9 News on March 2nd.

State Reps. Debate Puppy Mill Bill:

Buying from a pet store: Is it really about education?

February 27, 2011 29 comments

I’m not going to lie, I created the term “blood pup” for a very specific reason. To make the purchase of pet store and online puppies something so abhorrent and socially unacceptable that people would be too embarrassed to even consider buying puppies from these places. Why? Because I don’t believe that just educating people is working.

There is SO much information out there about the connection between pet stores and puppy mills. The internet is full of stories, videos, websites and news stories detailing the conditions found in puppy mills and the dangers of buying from a pet store. Humane Societies across the country have posted information on their websites about how to recognize a responsible breeder when buying a purebreed puppy. Local and national news media outlets have done investigative stories on puppy mills and the dangers of buying puppies online. Heck, even Oprah has done her share to educate people on puppy mills. And yet, puppy sales from these places continue. Just look at the eBay Classifieds Cats & Kittens or Dogs and Puppies sections and you can see that the puppy and kitty mill businesses are not only alive and kicking, but thriving.

I’m not saying that there isn’t an opportunity to educate folks about pet stores and online sales of puppies. There is a need. But, I also believe that many people choose to ignore the information that is out there in favor of “I want what I want when I want it.”

Recently, a pet food store in another state posted this comment on their Facebook page:

“Whenever anyone calls to ask if we sell animals, whether its a Boston terrier or a ferret, we tell them to check breed rescue, the shelter, or do the research and find a responsible breeder. Their answer, 95% of time is, ‘Ok, but are there any pet stores around you that sell animals?’ The answer, unfortunately, is yes, but I won’t compound the problem.”

What struck me was that 95% of the time the person calling was still focused on buying an animal. Why? Certainly not because they were concerned about where the pet came from, or who the parents were, or under what conditions the animal was raised. Was it a lack of education? Possibly. But if so, then why didn’t they ask why the pet food store chose not to sell animals? Or, why the store recommended looking at a shelter or a rescue or reputable breeder? My guess is because they didn’t care. They simply wanted a pure-breed puppy and they didn’t care where they got it from.

The sad truth is that these very same people are also the ones who so willing give up their puppies a few years later when they are no longer as cute and cuddly as they were when they first bought them. Life With Dogs posted this story back in February of this year. It shared the statistics from a survey conducted by the RSPCA (the SPCA in the United Kingdom) showing that

1 in 5 puppy buyers did not have their dogs 2 years later. It also revealed that 24% of the owners who bought a pure-bred puppy in the past 2 years based their decision mainly on appearance, while 56% of buyers did not see the puppy with its mother before they bought it, and a shocking 40% of those who bought a puppy spent one week or less researching their purchase. Pretty shocking numbers.

Can you imagine that the numbers are any better here in the United States?

So, is it a lack of education about puppy mills that is really the issue? Based on the numbers above, I would surmise it’s not. In my opinion it’s more about “I want a cute little puppy NOW” – and “I don’t want to put a whole lot of effort into thinking about what breed is best for me and my lifestyle because that would take too much time.” To me this more about impulse buying – we see cute puppy, we want cute puppy, we buy cute puppy. Nowhere in that thought process is the question… What do I do with puppy once I get it home? We do more research buying furniture for our homes than on what type of dog would do best with our lifestyles. We’re more motivated by cute than by actual knowledge, because we want what we want when we want it.

So, while many will continue to educate people about pet stores, puppy mills and online internet sales of puppies, I am going to continue to use the term “blood pups” to describe the puppies people buy from pet stores and online puppy sale websites. If it deters one person from buying from these places great, but I aim to deter a lot more than that. Won’t you join me?

And meanwhile, over in this corner…

February 20, 2011 13 comments

Over the past few weeks there has been a battle going on. Thanks to a heads up by Two Little Cavaliers, dog and cat bloggers, tweeters and Facebook folks have been rallying together to stop eBay from selling live pets via their eBay Classified’s website. Most of these pups come from questionable breeders, and if I had a chance to make a bet, I would say that the majority of them come straight from puppy mills and/or backyard breeders. As a result of this campaign, people have been signing a petition to ask eBay to stop selling live pets on their website. So far, 83,000+ people have signed the petition. You can add your name to the petition here and I encourage you to do so. Stopping the sale of puppies from these mills is a major key to ending pet overpopulation and the killing of 3-4 million dogs and cats each year by U.S. shelters.

But while this battle was going on, another one was taking place in Missouri… and it’s not good news.

Back in November 2010, animal advocates and pet owners rejoiced when Prop B passed in Missouri by the narrowest of margins. Prop B mandated that dog breeders, especially puppy mills, had to provide the following for the dogs in their care: exercise, comfortable places for breeding dogs to live, and required food and veterinary care. Seems pretty reasonable doesn’t it? I mean most dogs I know need exercise, a comfortable place to sleep, food and vet care. But not in Missouri, the worst puppy mill state in the country. Nope. In Missouri, this is considered excessive (Read: It takes too much time, money, effort, etc. to offer the minimum standard of care to an animal considered to be “livestock” by the USDA). So over the past few months, since the passage of Prop B, puppy mill owners and backyard breeders have been putting pressure on their state legislators to rescind or completely dismantle Prop B. And it appears that they are succeeding…

One example, HB 131, just passed unanimously out of the House Agriculture Policy Committee on Tuesday (February 15, 2011). “If it passes, it will strip the requirements for clean water, room to move around in cages, and time to rest between breeding cycles out of Proposition B. In essence, it makes Prop B a do-nothing law.”

And then there is SB 113 which essentially takes the legal teeth out of the punishments puppy mill breeders would face if they violated Prop B.

Not good news at all.

So while we battle on against eBay, let us not forget the fight that is still going on in Missouri (and even in my home state of Minnesota).

And lest you think that this is no big deal – none of your concern – not worth your time – watch the video below. It was filmed in Minnesota, but trust me. Kathy Bauck (the puppy mill owner) is not the exception but the rule in Missouri.

To tell the members of the Missouri House of Representatives to vote NO on HB 131. Go here. They only have 234 signatures so far.

This One Wild Life – I DARE you to read it.

January 29, 2011 9 comments

I don’t always direct my readers to another blog instead of mine, but in this case I felt that Kim Clune’s post “Animal Overpopulation: The Euphemisms of…” on her blog This One Wild Life was powerful enough that I thought it didn’t need my words added to it.

I will just say this… she includes a video in her post. I dare you to watch it. And then, I dare you to pass it on.

Change is only accomplished when all of us become a part of the solution. Let’s BE the change we want to see.

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