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Protestors Mark National Puppy Mill Awareness Month

Animal advocates share their personal stories of rescued puppy mill dogs.

September is National Puppy Mill Awareness Month, and the protestors who have been gathering outside the Puppy Experience in Aquebogue to raise awareness plan to be out again on both Saturday and Sunday.

For months, protestors have gathered on Route 25 to educate about puppy mills, holding signs stating that many pet stores purchase dogs from puppy mills.

Recently, the owner of the Puppy Experience spoke out and his attorney sent a cease and desist letter, saying litigation could be the next step.

In early September,  the police were called after a complaint was made that protestors were parking in the nearby Aquebogue Elementary School lot.

But those who gather every weekend are working to raise awareness about the "horror" of puppy mills -- and to make a difference, said Barbara Dennihy, of the  Companion Animal Protection Society,

For Dennihy, the story of puppy mill rescues resonates close to the heart: Her dog, Molly, was used as a breeding dog for six years before being sold at auction to a research lab.

The lab, she said, went bankrupt after six months. "They locked the door and left," Dennihy said. "A janitor found the 30 dogs abandoned and called local rescue groups."

Local rescue groups on Long Island took ten of the dogs, Dennihy said, and, after vetting, spaying and grooming, the dogs were put up for adoption. 

"Molly had many medical issues," Dennihy said, including a necrotic uterus, from overbreeding and "severe" dental issues. "Had she not been rescued she would have died of a ruptured uterus within days. Three days after I adopted her she had to have emergency dental surgery done. All her teeth were pulled  from rot except seven."

Today, Dennihy said, Molly "is a wonderful dog and very loved."

The Kent Animal Shelter in Riverhead also participated in a puppy mill rescue this year. Executive Director Pam Green said 20 dogs were brought to the Kent Animal Shelter 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 also has a puppy mill rescue named Frodo, said some dogs have genetic issues including heart murmurs due to close breeding.

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."

Dennihy added that a puppy mill  is "a commercial dog breeding facility that mass produces puppies for retail pet stores and internet sales. Emphasis is about profit , not animal welfare."

Breeding dogs, Dennihy said are often kept in substandard conditions, kept in cages, and get little exercise or socialization -- with "no veterinary care" and poor nutrition and little or no shelter from the elements.

Females, she said, are bred each cycle with no rest between litters for years.

"Puppy Mill Awareness Month was created to raise awareness about the horror of puppy mills and their connection to retail pet stores and internet sales. This month the motto 'Don't shop, adopt' takes on even more meaning," Dennihy said.

Consumers looking for a specific dogs may consider adoption from a shelter or breed specific rescue group, Dennihy said. "Many consumers do not realize there are breed specific rescue groups across the country. If a family is looking for a poodle or a Great Dane there is a specific rescue group with plenty of dogs for adoption."

Of the ongoing quest to raise awareness, Dennihy said, "CAPS will continue to educate, investigate and lobby for legislation."

Do you have a puppy mill rescue? What do you think of the protests in Aquebogue? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Kristie M September 27, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Lady Kaphan, I don't now if you are married to Scott or another relative. Either way, you must realize that very few people only do one crappy thing in their lives. He was arrested for selling puppies out of his trunk, he buys from puppy mills now and is not considering going humane. He is not a good person, period. The lawyer, defensive statements, idiotic Hummer...there are much better human beings to spend time with.
Anne Marie September 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Jen 10:02 pm on Monday, September 24, 2012 "....I don't appreciate the veiled threat and if you were so "up there", you would be able to compose a post without potty mouth. Anne Marie- you are a troll and an ignorant fool....I see you are an antagonist on other threads here too." "Not a wise move" is not a threat, it's a suggestion. As for "potty mouth", I don't see you chastsing your fellow activist Amy for using foul language. "A troll and an ignorant fool." - You don't know me, you're making assumptions based upon your emotional response to a differing opinion. "I see you are an antagonist on other threads here too." - You might've chosen to read only the commentary and not the journalism piece itself.. for if you had, you would have seen with your own two eyes that the commentary was justified. As you apparently believe yours is.
Anne Marie September 27, 2012 at 06:28 PM
"Am I mistaken or don't people with "up there" intelligence know how to spell coincide?"- Jen Sorry, my finger slipped. Don't be catty... seriously? Good god.
Anne Marie September 27, 2012 at 07:45 PM
The thing is, I actually believe you. You just come off with such a self-righteous attitude that it becomes personal for me. What I was doing was stating the legal right that the man has to run his business. You chose to turn it personal. I mean, jeebus effin' christmas, man.. I rescued a pit, a pit mix, a boxer mix and a Samoyed mix. I'm aware of the god forsaken tragedies that occur within the confines of a puppy mill. I'm aware of how deranged people can be.. Dude, I shot dope for a very long friggin' time, I know. Family history vs. personal history differs greatly (if you don't know what I'm referring to, check your profile wall for a PM.) I've done some dumb stuff, as we all have. Unfortunatly, (and please read carefully), the legal route and moral route take two different paths. It's usually the legal route that wins out. I'm NOT discounting your experiences...I'm NOT discounting your thoughts. I'm NOT discounting your feelings. I'm bringing to light the unfortunate situation that exists when morals conflict with on the book laws via a mind equpped to ask questions.. PLEASE don't take what I'm saying to you as an attack, and PLEASE do NOT (and this includes everyone) denegrate other human beings for the simple fact that they may have a differing opinion than yourself. All opinions have the right to be heard... it's a fact of life, as is your stance on the puppy mills occupying the midwest brokering to god knows where. I'm not attacking YOU. Don't attack me.
Amy September 27, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I will be at the protest Sat. see you there.

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