Why don't you just shutdown the puppy mills?
It's a question that comes up frequently on various posts relating to puppy mills, protests or pets sold in pet stores. In an ideal world, they'd all be closed but in a real world, closing puppy mills isn't as easy as you'd think, even if the puppy mill owner is facing charges for animal cruelty.
Case in point
In Nancy, Kentucky, the owner of Dream Catcher Kennels is facing charges after keeping dogs in deplorable conditions. Cages were caked in feces, mud and other matter. And, investigators found some dogs - mothers and puppies - crammed so tightly into cages that they couldn't move. His explanation as to why he had so many dogs in one cage - "they fit." Despite the severity of the charges, it's business as usual for Dennis Bradley according to a report on WAVE-TV.
Why is he still open for business?
There is more than the law to take into consideration when the puppy mill owners are facing animal cruelty charges. The much bigger question is what happens to the dogs?
In order for the doors to shut and the dogs to be moved to safety, someone needs to step up to take care of the vetting, feeding and rescue aspect involved with shutting down a mill. According to a TV report on this particular case, it's estimated the costs of rescuing the dogs would be around $70,000. Depending on the laws in a particular state, dogs may need to be held until a case goes to trial. That could be months or years.
In many of the stories I've covered that focus on mills that have shutdown, either a large rescue organization has been involved or lots of small groups have stepped up to take in the dogs and prepare them for adoption someplace else. Most often it takes a village - an effort of several rescue groups and advocacy organizations to get the dogs to safety. In this case, that hasn't happened and the shear number of dogs involved would overwhelm local animal welfare facilities.
So, what is happening to the dogs?
The dogs in the worst shape were removed by animal welfare workers. The rest are still in the puppy mill with animal control keeping an eye on the situation. And, Bradley says he has plans to expand. I just hope they are keeping a very close eye on the situation.
Other cases, other places
But, as we have learned, keeping an eye on the situation doesn't mean that anything happens quickly. Just one look at the Debra Pratt puppy mill in Iowa that I've blogged about throughout the year shows that even when the USDA is logging violation after violation - and the puppy mill is in horrendous shape - doesn't mean that shutting the doors and saving the dogs is an easy task.
Writing to lawmakers to campaign for tougher laws is important - it's vital in getting things to change in an industry where companion animals - pets - are treated with less regard than livestock.
However, the easiest way to shut down mills is not to purchase pet store puppies and kittens. The pets sold in pet stores - the ones with the hefty price tag often sold on credit - come from puppy mills...as do many dogs and cats sold directly on the Internet.
And, if you connect with a breeder on the Internet and he or she asks you no questions and doesn't screen you prior to the sale - ding, ding, ding - you are dealing with a puppy mill. If the demand dries up, there is no need for the supply. Don't get me wrong - stronger laws are important and vital in most cases. But as we saw in the Pratt
For more information, check out The Puppy Mill Project online and on Facebook, Pupquest (a site created by veterinarians) or follow the work of the National Mill Dog Rescue. Their Facebook page and Website show exactly what the mothers and fathers in the puppy mills look like in the mills - it's not a pretty sight.
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