Monday, July 10, 2017

Puppy Mill Awareness Day

Last weekend, Panda and I were invited to participate as special VIP (Very Important Puppy) guests at the Puppy Mill Awareness Day (PMAD) VIP Reception. Panda offered her talents by painting a fab piece of artwork to auction off to raise funds for this great organization. Not only was her painting a big hit with the crowd, it raised $700, making it the second most coveted painting - first was a painting featuring our friend Kaxan. 

Our sweet little lady was a huge hit, everyone loves Dalmatians, and she was more than happy to ham it up for the crowd! Panda sported her Panda ears from Zoo Snoods, worked her magic and ultimately was one excited little lady when her painting was auctioned off. 

Of course, there is so much more to this event than simply a fun auction, the message behind the fun is a very important one. Every single day in Texas, 118 puppy mills are operating and dogs are suffering as they live their lives in kennels, simply being used as breeding machines to churn out profits for these large scale commercial breeders. Think about that number for a minute - 118. These puppy mills right here in my own homestate house over 6300 adult dogs combined. Texas hosts 3 of the absolute worst puppy mills in the entire country. This is unacceptable. 

It's certainly not a problem limited to Texas. In fact, Texas, being one of the largest states in the country, doesn't even have the highest number of puppy mills. Kansas has over 165 mills. Indiana has over 200 mills. Iowa has over 250 mills. Ohio has over 430 mills and Missouri has over 800 puppy mills. This is a countrywide problem and not one that can be solved by simply promoting adoption and rescue over purchasing a puppy. Of course, I ALWAYS encourage adoption, but if you are going to purchase a dog or puppy from a breeder, demand to see the parents and their living conditions. 

Reputable breeders are out there. I personally don't agree with breeding while any animals sit and wait or worse are killed in shelters, however, I understand the need or want for a particular breed. I share my life with a breed that isn't common in shelters and it took a bit of time and effort to adopt her (we are so thrilled we waited and found her, she is the perfect addition to our family). However, so many people are unaware of the horrors of puppy mills and when it comes to buying a pet, they don't necessarily know how to recognize the signs of a puppy mills or non-reputable breeder. 

A breeder who falls into that reputable category will absolutely care where their dogs are going. They will want to meet the families that purchase their puppies and they will be open to those families seeing the living conditions of the parents. If a breeder is not open to allowing you access to the parents, walk away! In addition, reputable breeders will have a plan for you if the puppy doesn't work out, they will take their dogs back and work to ensure they are properly cared for with a new family, never tossed out onto the streets or left in a shelter. 

On the other hand, commercial breeders (or backyard breeders who care only for the profits their puppies can bring in) are those that generally will be selling directly to stores. Think about it, if they sell a puppy to a store, they have absolutely no control over where that puppy ends up. How can they possibly know that those dogs are being well cared for in a family that loves them? They don't know, nor do they care. With puppy mills, it's all about the profits, not about the dogs. Adult breeding dogs in puppy mills are bred every single heat cycle. They are stuck in cages their entire life, their paws never feel soft grass, they never have fresh air or soft cozy blankets, they never feel love. The cage standards (set by the USDA) for puppy mills dogs are horrifying, each dog is only required to be given enough room to stand, turn around and lay down. That's it. Can you imagine being stuck in a cage your entire life, with only 6 inches of extra space to move? Can you look at your own pets and imagine them in this scenario? Does it make you feel angry? It definitely makes me angry. 

So, what can you do to help end puppy mills? 
  • The easiest way to help, is of course, always choosing adoption through a shelter or rescue. If you are looking for a particular breed, I promise you, they are out there! I am happy to help, just email me and we can set up a plan to search for your new forever friend!
  • Write to your representatives. Tell them how you feel about these large scale breeding operations and ask that they work to put more humane laws in place. 
  • Contact your local city representatives about putting a retail puppy ban in place. In Austin, animal advocates spoke up and we now have a retail pet ban. Unless you are offering adoptions through a local non-profit, sales of pets are forbidden within our city limits! 
  • If you suspect something with a local breeder, reach out to groups like Bailing Our Benji or the Humane Society of the United States (1-877-Mill-Tip). 
  • Speak up against puppy mills! You have a voice, use it.
Bailing Out Benji took in several
puppy mill survivors last week.
(Photo via Bailing Out
Benji's facebook page)
At the PMAD event, we heard from Mindi Callison, a wonderful advocate for puppy mill survivors and the founder of Bailing Out Benji. Mindi discovered that a local store was selling puppies from a puppy mill she had seen on the news. This particular mill was cited for keeping animals outside in severe weather conditions with no protection from the heat, snow and rain in Iowa. Mindi was outraged and decided to do more research. What she learned about puppy mills horrified her so she set out to stop this. Not only does she advocate on behalf of the dogs trapped inside puppy mills, but she goes to the mills and convinces them to turn over dogs that would otherwise be killed (usually dogs that have grown too old or ill to breed) to her organization. Many of these dogs have been abused their entire lives, stuck in cages, bred over and over and over again until they were no longer of any value to the breeding operation. Many operations illegally kill those dogs. Mindi has persuaded several mills to allow her organization to take these dogs into her custody and care instead. A true hero for many puppy mill survivors. 

Pet Studio Art will be proudly hosting a fundraiser for Bailing Our Benji in the coming months! If you would like to offer them some support of your own, please visit them here: Bailing Out Benji

The day after the PMAD VIP Reception, Bailing Out Benji was able to save 10 more puppy mill survivors. They deserve every ounce of support we can offer them!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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Panda Bear's painting raised $700 to help end puppy mills!