Our campaign to stop puppy mill cruelty just reached an important milestone with the passage of the 400th local ordinance prohibiting the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. And this is something to celebrate, as it shows so many people coming together to make the world a more humane place for animals.
More and more communities are seeing the cute puppy or kitten frolicking in the pet store window very differently, thanks to a heightened awareness about the puppy mill industry. In this industry, dog and cat mothers and fathers are treated like moneymaking machines, bred over and over with little regard for their health or well-being, what to speak of lack of love and comfort. The passage of a humane pet store ordinance in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, not only got us to this new benchmark of 400 local ordinances but is also the first of its kind in the state.
One of the most inspiring parts of advocating for animal issues, like ending puppy mill sales, is how nonpartisan the work can be: These 400 cities, towns and counties across 31 different states that have cut off the puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline represent a diverse array of urban and rural areas in all parts of the country. For instance, in Florida this year, progressive-leaning Orange County and conservative-leaning Manatee County both enacted humane pet store ordinances, and together they will stop 10 pet stores from selling puppy mill puppies.
Laws on the state level paint a similar picture. Just this year, Illinois and Washington enacted humane pet store laws—both with strong bipartisan support. And in Republican-controlled Texas, similar legislation got within a razor-thin margin of passing. Not only are we seeing more laws enacted and making progress in some of the most unlikely places, but we’re also witnessing the strong enforcement of such laws. The Maryland Attorney General announced last month that the state settled its lawsuit against a small chain that refused to comply with Maryland’s prohibition on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. Just Puppies agreed to stop selling puppies and to pay at least $100,000 in fines for selling puppies for over a year after the law went into effect.
The message is clear: The days of selling commercially raised puppies in pet stores are numbered. But this industry is not going down without a fight. Rather than starting the transition to a products and services business model, two pet store chains in Illinois—Petland and Furry Babies, and a team of their hired lobbyists—spent the last couple of weeks trying to get lawmakers to repeal the new pet store law during a special “veto session.” We were able to stop this last-ditch effort by reminding lawmakers how popular the new law is with the people of their districts.
Whether elected officials care most about animal welfare, consumer protection, public health or deceptive lending practices, we have evidence to show humane pet store laws satisfy so many priorities that are important to people. That’s why this issue resonates with so many, from so many different walks of life.
Everyone can join in the effort to stop puppy mills: Check out our puppy mills research page and our Advocates Guide to Stopping Puppy Mills. You can also see these tips on how to get a dog from a humane source.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.