Back in May 2017, the National Humane Society released a list of the 100 worst puppy mills in America. Twelve of the top 100 were based in Ohio. The only state that had more puppy mills was Missouri at 19. Two other states also had twelve on the “horrible hundred.” The list highlights only the ones that are particularly abusive to dogs. There are countless puppy mills that may fly below the radar or that treat dogs just well enough to not garner attention.
What is a Puppy Mill?
The ASCPA defines a puppy mill as “a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.” The reason that the humane societies and other charitable organizations focus so much on these kinds of set-ups is that, as the name suggests, dogs are there simply to reproduce. Often times, numerous dogs are stored in every tiny spaces, and the dogs do not receive proper care or feeding. The objective is simply to produce as many puppies as possible. These puppies are often sold to pet stores. Sometimes they are sold at road-side booths and sometimes they are sold in shady Craigslist deals.
Dogs Aren’t the Only Ones
Petfinder.com, a major pet adoption website, notes that it’s not just dogs that are sold to pet stores based on less than humane practices. Cats and kittens are often sold to stores in the same way, as are rabbits and many other animals. Remember, pet stores are in the profit business and those animals need to come from somewhere. The best way to make a profit is to buy animals on the cheap and sell them for as much as the store can. When animals are purchased from pet stores, this whole cycle receives the financial support it needs to continue.
Humane Societies to the Rescue – Literally
You know that Humane Societies across the nation shelter animals and try to care for them as much as possible, and animals can be adopted from these shelters usually at a very low cost. When I adopted my dog from the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta, they not only sold him to me for a very small sum, but they also got him groomed (which was quite a task) and also helped cover the expenses tied to getting him fixed. This is not all that these organizations do, however.
Often times, Humane Societies are also responsible for taking animals out of dangerous and/or abusive situations. One great example of what Humane Societies do for animals was reported by WTAP on January 24, 2018. A family in Belpre called the Humane Society saying they had been hearing a cat cry from under their house. Volunteers ended up cutting out the wall and crawling into a 7’ deep well to rescue the 3-year-old female cat. Humane Society volunteers also rescue animals from reported mills, hoarding situations, dog racing/fighting sites, and more.
Don’t Be Afraid of Uncertainty When Adopting a Pet
The only thing I was a little concerned about when looking for my furry friend was that I probably would not know a lot about his or her past. Not knowing about health issues or other facets of the animal’s life can be a little disconcerting, especially for a slightly over-protective dog mom like me. You never know if this is just how the dog is or if this pattern of behavior or health issue is something that should be looked at by a veterinarian. However, my experience has proven that whatever animal you give your home to will guide you in to how best to care for them. Indeed, my shih-tzu/poodle mix pup has me very well trained, at this point. A good vet can help soothe any concerns as time goes on.
A Shelter Animal Rescued This Family
I have a floor mat on my front porch that has this saying on it. I got it from the Marietta branch of We Luv Pets, a store that does a lot to support the local humane societies. It sounds cliché, but knowing that you are giving a warm and loving home to a dog, a kitty, a rabbit, or a horse that had a tough go of it in the past can fill your heart with a high dosage of happiness. I often think of the fact that my dog was found wandering around in a field, burrs and mats all over his body. As I write this, he is curled up on the couch fast asleep while it is snowing and raining outside. Extending care to animals from shelters can also be great ways to teach your kids about care, compassion, and charity.
So, from my pup and me, think very strongly about how you are going to bring your new pet into your home, and please consider adopting, not shopping.
This article was co-authored by Margie’s feisty yet also lazy dog, Cumbie.