Puppies and kittens are often a staple of pet stores, beckoning customers in and melting hearts with their cute antics as they frolic in the shop window. How often have you stopped to think about where those baby animals come from, though? Research conducted by The Humane Society estimates that 99% of puppies come from puppy mills.
It is estimated there are 10,000 puppy mills across the country, if not more, which breed in excess of two million dogs every year. That's a lot of puppies, and fewer than 3,000 of those farms are registered with the Department of Agriculture. Conditions in the mills are often less than sanitary, and medical problems are common. When you consider that almost four million dogs find themselves in shelters each year, and that some 1.2 million are euthanized annually, the problem becomes very clear indeed. Luckily, lawmakers around the country are starting to take note of this issue.
Just last week, the New Jersey Senate approved a bill that would require all pet stores licensed after January 12, 2016 to sell animals that were obtained via animal rescue centers and homeless shelters, rather than from private breeders or puppy mills. It is hoped that such action will deter these puppy mills and farms from their operations, although time will tell how successful the bill proves to be.
Senator Raymond Lesniak, who introduced the bill to the Senate, said: "These puppy mills have gained a notorious reputation for putting profits ahead of the humane treatment of dogs and cats. Their mass breeding has created inbred health and behavioral problems and the inhumane conditions have left too many of these pets to suffer from neglect and mistreatment."
The bill must now face the Assembly, where it will be debated before being passed. Those arguing against the bill, including members of the pet industry, have argued that it could make life difficult for new pet stores starting out, although we're sure that anything taking the health and wellbeing of puppies and kittens into consideration can only be a good thing. What do you think?