For dogs bred in puppy mills, there are no good days. They are crammed into small spaces, often denied basic needs like food and water and veterinary care, and they rarely, if ever, get the human companionship and enrichment that makes their lives better and healthier. There is no excuse for such cruelty and neglect, and that’s why, here at the Humane Society of the United States, an end to the scourge of puppy mills is a priority.
Our approach is a comprehensive one. We push for stronger federal regulation of puppy mills. We advocate for legislation at state and local levels of government to end the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. We raise awareness among consumers about adopting from shelters and rescue groups, or from responsible breeders. We assist local law enforcement officials with rescuing animals from puppy mills. And when necessary we assist shelters when they find themselves in a bind after too many animals rescued from a puppy mill pour in, as a recent case illustrates.
In Maryland recently, local law enforcement agents rescued 54 German Shepherd dogs, including 40 dogs who were seized from a property in Pocomoke and 14 puppies who were born after the rescue. It turned out that the operator had previously lost her kennel license in Pennsylvania and had moved to Maryland. Somerset County Animal Control officers have brought animal cruelty charges against her.
The shelter involved in this response is in a rural, underserved area of the state and operates on a tiny budget. Suddenly, it found itself with dozens of large dogs who needed care and feeding, as well as veterinary treatment. The entire shelter only has three officers, and in addition to their dog law enforcement duties, they were doing everything from evidence collection to kennel maintenance to processing adoption applications. One of the officers was even bathing the dogs herself on the weekends.
Upon hearing that the shelter was under-resourced, the HSUS provided grants to help with the veterinary needs of the recovering dogs, all of whom will be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. We also assured the shelter we would assist with any dogs who need additional placement help, and we are helping move some of the dogs to our placement partners. Members of the Stop Puppy Mills team and Animal Rescue Team visited the dogs earlier this week to ensure they were receiving everything they needed, and brought them leashes and other supplies.
The animals are now receiving excellent care. When our staff members visited, they found the dogs clean and well-fed and thriving. When they reach their forever homes it’ll be a far cry from the trash-littered, feces-strewn house in which they were first found.
In another case needing our intervention in Candler County, Georgia, our Animal Rescue Team worked with the Atlanta Humane Society and the Candler County Sheriff’s office to provide safe haven for a portion of the 150 dogs who needed to be quickly removed. We facilitated the placement of and offered funding to our shelter and rescue partners that answered the call, including Cashiers Highlands Humane Society, Paws Bryson City and Moore Humane Society in North Carolina, Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, Pet Alliance Orlando and Nassau Humane Society in Florida, and Brandywine Valley SPCA in Pennsylvania, where the dogs are available for adoption.
In 2019, our work to end the misery of puppy mills continues. Two states, California and Maryland, banned the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and we expect more states to take up similar legislation this year. Also 290 localities around the country now have ordinances banning the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores, including large cities like Atlanta and Salt Lake City. Increasingly, Americans are recognizing that there is no place for puppy mills in a country that loves dogs as much as we do, and we at the HSUS are working hard to ensure that the day when puppy mills are history comes sooner rather than later.
P.S. To inquire about adopting the dogs rescued in Maryland, contact Somerset County Dog Control in Westover, Maryland. To inquire about dogs rescued from the Georgia case, contact the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, the Atlanta Humane Society in Georgia or the Brandywine Valley SPCA in Pennsylvania. Most of these shelters will require residents to apply in person if they want to adopt.