This past week, a one-eyed Chihuahua made national news when he was named the American Humane Associations American Hero Dog. To many folks, Harley seems like a very unlikely hero. Born in a puppy mill he spent 10 years as a breeding dog losing his eye after he was power washed in his cage.
Just how do you go from puppy mill to dog hero?
When Harley was rescued he had tons of health issues, but was adopted by Rudi and Dan Taylor and he soon became a social media sensation. He has been educating about puppy mills, raising funds for rescue and hitting the road to spring dogs from puppy mills. Thanks to his Harley to the Rescue campaigns over 500 dogs now have a second chance after being sprung from puppy mills. (Read about Harley here and here.)
Just a few days later, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) unveiled results of their investigation of 27 Petland stores. Their investigation showed that Petland purchases their dogs from puppy mills – mass breeding operations where dogs are kept in small cages under inhumane conditions while they are bred for profit over and over again. While the news conference announcing the findings was news to some people, to animal advocates it was more of - Pet stores and puppy mills, Well, Duh!
Pet stores and puppy mills: Wel,l Duh!
Around the country, more people are getting the message. Over 60 communities in North America – including Chicago and Cook County – have now banned the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. The new legislation in most communities calls for stores to adopt a humane option – offering rescue dogs and cats – instead of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats, if they want to deal in dogs and cats.
Unfortunately, while the number of people who can now connect the dots between pet stores and puppy mills is growing, too many people still have not gotten the message. That is why Petland and it’s supplier the Hunte Corporation are still in business raking in the bucks thanks to puppy mills.
It’s also why they’ve been in overdrive fighting the new laws through PIJAC – the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. I like to refer to the group as a puppy miller’s best friend. They’ve been campaigning and suing and waging campaigns against advocates like The Puppy Mill Project just so they can keep cramming dogs in to small cages drowning in crap so they can mass produce them like Beanie Babies.
What can you do to help?
September is National Puppy Mill Awareness Month and this Sunday is National Puppy Mill Awareness Day. If you live in or around Chicago, you can take advantage of a beautiful fall day and hit Michigan Avenue. That is when The Puppy Mill Project and rescue folks from around the area will be marching to spread the word of the pet store puppy mill connection.
They are stepping off around noon in front of the Wrigley Building (just north of the bridge) – and they’ll march to Water Tower Place and back to get the word out. This is the fourth year in a row that The Puppy Mill Project has used the Midwest’s number one shopping district to spread the word about pet stores and puppy mills and the sad story behind the puppies in the window.
If you don’t live near Chicago, that doesn’t mean you can’t spread the word. Around the country, groups are holding marches, walks, protests and adoption events to help educate the public about puppy mills and the dirty little secret pet stores want to keep out of the public eye. If you’d like to find out if there is an event near you, please check out this great list compiled by my friend Steve Dale.
And, if you’re thinking of adding a pet to your home, check out all the great dogs and cats of all ages up for adoption. Remember, good breeders don’t sell to pet stores and pet stores that sell puppies aren’t being honest about where they get their product.
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