Three cheers to the Reno City Council. Our community owes a heartfelt thank you to the Mayor and council members for unanimously voting this week to impose a 180-day moratorium on issuing new business licenses to stores who sell pets. This vote is big step forward in ending our community’s support of puppy mills. Our community stood up for and took responsibility for those who cannot speak for themselves. Once again I am reminded of what a special place this is.
The facts are very simple. The majority of dogs offered for sale in pet stores are sourced from large-scale breeding operations, better known as puppy mills. The practice is every bit as inhumane as it sounds. I have had the misfortune to witness first-hand the devastation, horror, and abuse animals held in mill situations endure. This is not breeding– it is manufacturing. It is dirty and it is grim. Puppy mills and stores profiting from this malfeasance have no place in Washoe County, one of the most humane communities in America. By eliminating the revenue and outlets for perpetrators of this cruelty we can help end puppy mills and with one voice say, “not in our town. “
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s explore exactly what we are talking about. As defined by the ASPCA “A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.”
Dogs from puppy mills are often unsocialized, fearful and at higher risk of a myriad of genetic maladies ranging from kidney disease to blood disorders. They often arrive in pet stores, and often their new homes, with a host of diseases that could put the purchased puppy, existing pets, and even their new owners at risk.
More heart-wrenching than all of the above is how the animals are treated before they leave the mills. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. To minimize cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. To maximize profits, dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. After they are physically depleted to the point that they no longer can reproduce, the mothers are often killed.
Support of this “industry” has no place in our community. Obviously, I hope that you choose adoption as your first choice of pet acquisition. Twenty-five percent of canines in American shelters are purebred dogs. There are breed-specific rescues for every breed imaginable–just Google the breed rescue you are searching for. If still you cannot find that the perfect little four-pawed guy or gal for you, there are many wonderful, responsible breeders who can help you meet your match. You can find more helpful hints at nevadahumanesociety.org or ASPCA.org.