I wonder how many readers know that 99 percent of puppies sold in pet shops come, no matter what may be claimed, from puppy mills? They're hidden, shameful places where thousands of breeding females live their whole lives in small wire cages with no bedding, no exercise, no veterinarian care, no human touch, and are simply shot or discarded when they are no longer fertile.
Between 2 million and 4 million puppies are bred this way every year—from cute "designer" cross-breeds in Beverley Hills to "cash crops" all across the country. And at the other end of this tragic story, hundreds of thousands of abandoned and stray dogs are euthanized every year because new homes cannot be found for them.
The good news is that we can put puppy mills out of business with a simple vow never, ever, to buy a puppy from a pet shop, or from an advertisement in a newspaper or pet magazine, or on-line. They are the outlets for these puppies, many of which are in-bred and unhealthy. It is easy to identify a caring, responsible breeder. He or she will want to meet you, to make sure you are a suitable owner for the puppy being sold. Better still, adopt the new member of your family from an animal shelter, or, if your heart is set on a particular breed, from a rescue organization. And remember: A large percentage of shelter dogs are purebred. They will also have their vaccinations and be spayed or neutered.
We are blessed in the Wood River Valley to have a wonderful, no-kill animal shelter, run by dedicated people and funded by the generosity of our community. Let's show our gratitude by adopting our pets from them, supporting their fundraisers—or even just by helping to exercise the dogs in their care.
Please, everyone, spread the word and put a stop to puppy mills. It is, after all, a sad but self-evident truth that people who abuse defenseless animals have little love or respect for any other form of life.