Today, October 22nd, is National Make A Difference Day. It is the biggest day of giving nationwide, and below are eight suggestions of how you can volunteer a little of your time to help make a difference for puppy mill dogs. Not everything can be done in one day, but today is a perfect day to set the plan in place!
- Distribute anti-puppy mill flyers/posters around your town (at veterinary offices, pet supply stores, grocery stores, libraries, anyplace with a community bulletin board). Flyers can be downloaded at this link.
- Order a banner and hang it on your fence to spread the message about puppy mills. Banners are available to download here.
- Ask your local pet supply store (or other businesses) if you can set up a table at their location to educate people about puppy mills. Flyers and banners are available to download here.
- Request meetings with your local, district and state lawmakers. Educate them about puppy mills. Explain that their help is needed to bring about change.
- Sit in on a town hall or city council meeting and bring up the puppy mill issue. Let your town officials know that you want to establish a puppy mill-free community – encourage them to create a law banning the retail sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores.
- Contact your lawmakers! Beginning at the most local level of government, you have the ability to spread the message about puppy mills, and raise awareness with those who have the power to create laws. Learn how to contact them here.
- If there is a pet shop that sell puppies in your town, ask them to consider offering rescue dogs instead. Information about how to do this is available from the Humane Society of the United States here.
- Join Harley’s Puppy Mill Action and Awareness Project … become one of Harley’s Heroes and be part of #HarleysDream to bring an end to puppy mills.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
What is a Puppy Mill?
A puppy mill is a large scale commercial dog breeding operation where dogs live in cages and are bred repeatedly, producing puppies to be sold in pet stores across the country – and online throughout the world. There may be as few as 100 breeding dogs or as many as 800 breeding dogs housed at a single facility. It is estimated there are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the USA, the majority being located in the Midwest. About one-third of these mills are approved and licensed by the USDA, as dogs are legally classified as ‘agriculture’.
Most of the dogs live in wire cages in buildings, barns and sheds which often have no heating or cooling. The dogs are not socialized, they receive little or no veterinary care, they do not have beds or toys, and they never get to run and play in the grass – some dogs never even see the sunlight – and though they yearn for it, they never receive love.
Puppy mill dogs drink from “rabbit-type” water bottles and cannot lap water normally to flush their mouths. This allows bacteria to remain, leading to severe dental issues; the most extreme (but not uncommon) is loss of jaw bone. Long-haired breeds are never groomed and become painfully matted, causing horrible infections. The floors of the cages in which they live are wire and the dogs’ nails are seldom cut, resulting in deformities and painful sores. Life in a cage produces a list of other physical conditions far too long to elaborate on: missing eyes, broken tails, spinal injuries, unrepaired broken bones, heartworm disease, ticks and parasites … to name just a few.
The female dogs are bred at every heat cycle and their puppies are usually taken from them too young. When a dog is no longer productive, typically at 5-7 years old, standard procedure is to destroy it.