This week Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper, D-Lloyd Harbor, proposed a bill that would ban the retail sale of puppies in Suffolk County. Banning the retail sale of puppies would help shut down the puppy mill business in Long Island.
But what is a puppy mill and why should they be shut down? If you are not an active part of the dog world, you may not have the answer to this question. Here, I'll try to paint a clearer picture for you.
First, I will say in full disclosure that my cocker spaniel, Barnum, is a puppy mill rescue. If you have viewed this column with any regularity you have seen him pictured. If you look at the photos today, you'll see Barnum right after he left the puppy mill, after he spent three years being used as a stud dog. Next, you'll see a picture of Barnum today, a happy, loving, (although emotionally scarred) dog who loves his family and his new life.
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.
Puppy mill puppies are typically sold to pet shops—usually through a broker, or middleman—and marketed as young as eight weeks of age. The lineage records of puppy mill dogs are often falsified.
The website Awareness Day goes even further in explaining just how cruel puppy mills are. "Dogs are kept in cages all the time, with the minimum legal space allowed (six inches larger than the dog on all sides), females are bred as often as possible, and when they are no longer able to “produce,” they are discarded," the website says.
The website also states that nearly 4 million dogs are born at puppy mills each year. If you compare this statistic with the one that states that nearly 3-4 million shelter animals are euthanized each year, you can easily see how cutting out puppy mills could potentially save millions of animals from dying a cruel death each year.
In a press release, Kent Animal Shelter gave their support for Cooper's bill. “Kent’s community has had a strong response to this issue and these poor dogs,” said Pam Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter. “Once people know where the adorable little puppies at pet stores are coming from and what they’ve been through,they refuse to support this disgraceful industry by purchasing a dog. I appreciate Legislator Cooper’s efforts to educate the public and take action here on Long Island.”
I, too, appreciate Legislator Cooper's efforts and I hope with every hope that I can muster that his bill will pass. If you love animals, it's impossible not to hate this horrifying business.