Puppy Mills.

Hey, all.

Time for a good, old-fashioned, high-on-my-horse rant.

Whenever someone tells me that they’re thinking about adding a dog to their family, I strongly encourage them to consider the local Humane Society or an animal shelter. Responsible people looking to own an animal really have no reason to consider any other option.

According to the Humane Society website, 2.7 million… that’s the number of adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year across this country.

The average cost to shelters for euthanizing an animal is $50. So this country spends 135 million dollars on killing animals every year. Then consider the costs involved in employees at shelters, vehicle upkeep, food for the animals, veterinary care. Of course, some of this is offset by animal adoption fees. But the majority of this is paid for by you and I— with our tax dollars.

Impact on our wallets aside, what about the impact on our hearts? Are you really comfortable knowing that 2.7 million adoptable animals are killed each year in this country? I’m sure as hell not.

And why do we have this problem? Because irresponsible people make impulse purchases of animals, to please a child or feed some crazy guilt trip. And six months later, the dog ends up in a shelter because the foolhardy decision has caught up with the family— when the kids don’t care anymore and Fido has pooped in the house one too many times.

Is it acceptable to take a trip to your local mall, with the intention of seeing a movie or building-a-bear… only to come home with a real, live, beating heart that you’ll be responsible for— for 10-15 years? I don’t think so. Yet, that’s exactly what goes on at my local mall, with a business called The Family Puppy. Cute name, eh? Sounds so innocent.

Yet, with some research, we find that The Family Puppy is getting their dogs from some very questionable sources, who are not adhering to directives from federal inspectors or following rules as mandated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA):

  • In 2012, The Family Puppy’s largest supplier, Marlin Bontrager of Rome City IN, was cited for direct veterinary care violations and when the inspector returned there were six more violations including more veterinary care related violations.
  • Two other main suppliers, Lavern Whetstone of Goshen IN and Verlyn Weaver of Topeka IN, were cited for not seeking veterinary care for animals that were in pain and suffering. Whetstone was told by the federal inspector to seek veterinary care and the kennel instead had a “non-professional” remove the membrane of a dog with cherry eyes. Weaver was cited for a pregnant dog with a build up of thick dark crust on her teeth. The store continued to work with both breeders despite these continued violations.

Here in my area, there is even an attempt to initiate a City Ordinance which would ban the retail sale of puppies. Here is where my conservative values clash with my liberal views. The conservative in me says that businesses have a right to sell what they want. The liberal in me says that shelters are the way to go when choosing an animal. And then the conservative in me also looks at the issue of this business costing the city more in the long run, when they will eventually contribute to the pet population that winds up at the shelter. So what is the answer? Let The Family Puppy run their business. But use my conservative and liberal right to free speech to not support their business and encourage others to do the same.

Bottom line: if you want a dog, go visit a shelter. Do some research. Don’t make an impulse purchase. Wait. Exercise patience. The world will be better for your restraint. And if you expect my friendship after supporting a business like The Family Puppy? I don’t think so.

By the way… here is me and Zipper. I wanted a Papillon from a shelter. Almost impossible. So, I waited. And waited. And waited. About 18 months went by… and then I saw him smiling at me on my local shelter’s Facebook page. The wait was worth it.

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