By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
Earlier this week, we released our Horrible Hundred report, a roundup of 100 puppy mills that keep churning out dogs in dismal conditions to be sold through pet stores, flea markets and websites across the country. This report gained headlines in top local media outlets, including ABC, Axios, the Des Moines Register and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
We release this report every year because it and the resulting coverage have the power to raise awareness about the injustices and cruelties of the puppy mill industry and to motivate people to help improve the lives of animals who may be suffering in back lots and hidden sheds within their own communities.
Fortunately, there are actions you can take right now to support legislation that would be a gamechanger for the puppy mill pipeline. Bills in Illinois, New York and Texas seek to end the retail sale of commercially raised dogs and cats; if they become law, more than 150 pet stores would no longer be able to sell puppies and kittens sourced from mills.
Lawmakers in these states have been overwhelmed with support from their constituents for ending the retail sale of puppies and kittens. And some of the most vocal advocates for these laws are people who have bought a pet from a pet store in the past, only to painfully learn what’s wrong with this system. Some were misled about the quality of the breeder. Some were pushed into financing agreements to purchase the pet with interest payments they could not afford. In the saddest scenarios, sick puppy mill dogs are bought and taken home — only to die a few days later.
Because of the harms to both consumers and animals this system can cause, one might expect these three bills to move quickly through their second chambers. The Illinois and Texas bills both passed their respective House of Representatives with strong, bipartisan support and are now being considered in the state Senates. The New York bill passed the Senate with only six dissenting votes and is now being considered in the state Assembly. But the pet stores and their teams of lobbyists are pushing back. Petland, a chain with 18 impacted stores across Illinois, New York and Texas, is fighting especially hard to maintain its business model, despite the suffering it causes animals and the people who care about them.
Luckily, the facts are on the side of the citizens and organizations pushing for passage of these bills, as our annual Horrible Hundred report once again reveals. Even though these puppy mills perpetuate egregious animal welfare practices, pet stores across the nation continue to source puppies from mills in this year’s report, including at least 21 Petland stores.
But our fight to cut off puppy mill supply chains has already made immense progress. To date, four states — California, Maryland, Maine and Washington — and over 380 localities have stopped the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. Just yesterday, Boise became the first city in Idaho to enact this policy.
The day when puppy mills have nowhere left to sell is on the horizon. While we continue to urge lawmakers in Illinois, New York and Texas to pass this legislation, you can help:
- If you live in Illinois, ask your state senator to support HB 1711.
- If you live in New York, ask your state assembly member to support A. 4283.
- If you live in Texas, ask your state senator to support HB 1818.
- No matter where you live in the U.S., you can encourage your lawmakers to support the Puppy Protection Act, a federal bill that would improve life for dogs in puppy mills.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.