Almost every one of the 20 dogs brought to the Kent Animal Shelter in Riverhead after a puppy mill rescue last month has found a home.
But Kent Animal Shelter Executive Director Pam Green said raising awareness about puppy mills that proliferate in parts of the midwest, including Missouri, is critical.
Last month, Green said 20 dogs were brought to the as part of a coordinated effort with the Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society. The puppies, she said, came from Missouri, "the puppy mill capital of the world."
Other areas known for puppy mills include Iowa, Green said; four times a year, Kent participates in similar puppy mill transports.
Some of the dogs, Green said, have social problems. "They've been living in a cage sometimes no larger than 3 x 3," she said. Some of the pups, Green added, live their entire lives in cages. "They die in puppy mills," she said.
Other problems puppy mill rescue dogs face include dental issues and difficulty becoming accustomed to life outside of a cage. "They're shy," she said. "And they're not familiar with grass -- they don't walk well on grass at first."
Green, who has a puppy mill rescue named Frodo, said some dogs have genetic issues including heart murmurs due to close breeding.
Of the 20 rescued, 17 dogs have found homes, Green said, and 3 are in foster care so they can adjust. "It's a whole new world," she said. Saving the dogs, she added, is rewarding.
In order to put the brakes on puppy mill proliferation, public education is important, Green said. Often, breeder dogs are used to create new "designer" mixed breeds, such as "morkies." The pups, Green said, are sold on the internet and in pet shops "It's a billion dollar industry," she said. Once the breeder dogs outlive their usefulness, many are sent to auction or euthanized. "A lot of people just don't get it -- we're not talking about the puppies; we're talking about their parents."
Often, puppy mill owners receive little more than a slap on the wrist, Green said. In order to help, Green said, "People can stop buying puppies in pet shops. That's the only thing they can do. People should be aware that if they buy a puppy in a pet shop, they're getting a puppy bred in a puppy mill."
Brunch for Moms of Pets
In other Kent Animal Shelter news, a special Mother's Day brunch fundraiser, for moms of pets, will be held on Sunday at the on Route 58, with sittings at 10 a.m. and noon. Guests are encouraged to bring photos of their four-legged friends.Tickets cost $30 in advance and $40 at the door; proceeds will benefit homeless animals. For more information call (631) 727-5731