Super Bowl Sunday Commentary – The Anti-Puppy Mill Edition

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One of the grandaddy of all misinformation campaigns swirling through cyberspace is the attempt to deny there are any definitions to the phrase “puppy mill.” So it’s time to highlight this lie again, as it has reared its ugly head again of late.

The folks who propagate this extreme level of misinformation are doing so in an attempt to shut down any efforts to regulate breeding. Shutting down puppy mills means a loss of income for those with a stake in the industry – directly or indirectly.

Clearly, the states, cities or counties with breeding regulations have included provisions for minimum standards of care – such as housing, care and feeding, veterinary care and time for exercise. Often, the regulations are minimum at best.

The operations that fall under these minimum guidelines can be considered puppy mills or substandard operations. There’s nothing hard to understand about it. But those who support puppy mills are hoping some people will blindly believe the propaganda, without actually researching or engaging in a simple fact check.

And I’m seeing some wild, tangential misinformation being spread about recently. One recent comment under a website post claimed rescue groups are buying puppy-mill puppies and are the main reason why puppy mills exist.

This one gets five piles of feces on a scale of 1 to 5 feces piles. Rescue groups across the nation are taking in dogs who are rescued directly from puppy mills or were sold through a puppy mill and later ended up at shelters or being cared for by rescue groups.

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Yes – They are known as puppy mills and they must be shut down

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While the progress has been too slow in the push to shut down puppy mills across the nation, I am pleased with the level of reporting I’m seeing. The media is doing a relatively good job of headlining the issue.

And rightfully so, the stories include the phrase “puppy mill.” When we see where someone has claimed there are no definitions for the phrase, that’s a red flag showing that individual is trying to block protections for the dogs suffering in puppy mills.

I will keep saying it over and over again. Quality breeders already meet or exceed the guidelines in current or proposed breeding regulations all across the nation.

Of late, we’re seeing an increased focus in media and we can only hope it will lead to more action on the part of legislative bodies. In Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports legislation is making its way through the General Assembly.

The possible provisions include a ban on dog sales at flea markets and preventing stores from selling puppies shipped in from out-of-state puppy mills.

A push is underway in Kansas, to update the state’s Pet Animal Act, as a bill is under review in a House committee. Breeders and kennel operators are on an advisory board, but hopefully they will be working in the right direction.

There is a gas-chamber ban in the bill and a provision to make inspections of breeding operations a requirement. No shelter should use gas chambers and inspections are a vital tool for uncovering puppy mills and ensuring that other breeders are properly staying within the guidelines.

The WCF Courier reports some Iowa lawmakers are engaged in an effort to increase enforcement and inspections for large-scale breeding operations and to better-regulate these operations.

But there are red flags in this case. The article notes it is possible that current standards for cage sizes and flooring might be removed. And I’m not sure it means that purebred breeders will be receive special classification as “specialized breeders, in order to gain their support.”

These breeders would be required to supply annual veterinary records.

The AKC declined to be interviewed for the story and reportedly opposed a previous version of this current bill. The AKC typically opposes any new regulations on puppy mills.

The article reports the AKC argued “the legislation would unfairly restrict raising quality, healthy purebred dogs and would prohibit members from being involved in animal rescues.”

This argument flies in the face of reason. Ensuring the breeding dogs live in clean housing and receive proper food and water and care does nothing to negatively impact quality breeding operations.

We can’t let people get away with using completely illogical arguments that they just try to word as thoughtful – as lame as the statements are.

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Interesting comments in support of breeder are actually a challenge to puppy-mill practices

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The case where a group of Old English Sheepdog (edit – Bulldog) puppies were taken from a home-breeder in Waukegan, Ill. has drawn a lot of national attention. It seems the breeder was violating a local ordinance, but now the rescue group holding the puppies and city staffers (including the police) have received threats of violence.

On Chicago Now’s “Raining Cats and Dogs” blog, the comments are all over the map. So I jumped in this week in the comment section to offer my take.

The following sums up some of my input:

Comments concerning puppies actually support bans on selling puppies before they are ready to leave their mothers.

It is interesting to read the comments from those who support the breeder in the story, where concern is expressed for separating puppies from moms at too young an age.
But if anyone introduced legislation to ban the sale of puppies before the age of 10 to 12 weeks or so, the AKC and other breeder organizations would scream and lobby heavily against it.


Rescue groups and shelters often have no choice. They either take in puppies dropped off at shelters at a very young age or take in puppies from a rescue case.

But it is time to ban the sale of puppies before they are ready to leave their moms, where they learn important social skills and gather other benefits. And the breeders should not be allowed to separate them from the moms.


Actually, there are behavioral concerns. Puppies learn social skills from their moms and litter mates.
All dogs are actually wolf-hybrids and in the wild, wolf puppies stay with their moms much longer – of course.

And as far as breeding goes overall, there are real concerns out in the real world. I regularly note that there are good breeders, but far too many are not at all concerned with breeding with concern for long-term health.

I’ve heard too many stories of young dogs getting cancer. I’ve had too many people tell me about their purchased dogs that ended up with serious knee deformities or cancers or hip problems or behavior problems.

We have been talking to one person of late who purchased a pair of puppies just four years ago. One had both knees operated on and the other had liver problems and is now dead due to an oral cancer.
One family we know adopted four ex-racing greyhounds and all four died young from osteosarcoma.

We need far better regulations on breeders, so that only the quality breeders are operating. Who wants a bunch of substandard breeders – not only harming dogs but giving good breeders a bad name?
Who could support a system like that. which is what we have now?


Clearly, there are good and bad breeders. We all know that. I have no problems with the breeders are researching and working with concern for quality breeding. These breeders are not the problem.

I’ve clearly stated that we need to weed out the bad breeders (puppy mills, etc) so that only the quality breeders remain.
That is clearly a logical position that everyone should support. Who would support bad breeding?

The issue has been the breeders who fail to engage in research and continue to breed dogs with health issues.
We also know there is a problem with purebred dogs because of the rise in specific breed rescue groups. People tend to too often site numbers from municipal shelters without taking into account the purebred dogs up for adoption in rescue groups.

Yes, irresponsible pet guardians are a problem, along with irresponsible breeders. We should address both. I often do.
Last year, I spoke at a meeting for a local shelter and told the attendees that while they debating over the particular issues of care within the shelter (very important) I was watching dogs and cats coming in the door.

We must debate these topics knowing it is a complex issue. We can’t let bad breeders off the hook because bad people are taking in pets.
I don’t want to see people dumping their pets or not caring for them and I don’t want to see bad breeders continue to operate.


Good breeders already comply with the provisions in every proposed anti-puppy mill bill I’ve read. But we continue to see opposition to shutting down the bad breeders.
And yes, I have visited breeding operations where the dogs were housed properly and had access to play yards and clean food and water.

Again, why would anyone want bed breeders to continue to operate?


In my home state, breed rescues have seen huge growth over the last 15 years. We’ve always had bad pet guardians. But in the last 15 years, the homeless problem has gotten worse, with even purebred dogs.

(One commenter took the typical route of those opposed to breeding regulations, by suggesting there are no definitions to the phrase – puppy mill. I had one ready for them.) –

A puppy mill is any breeding operation that —
A) Houses dogs in dirty cages too small for them to freely move about – and does not contain clean bedding.
B) Does not allow the dogs daily time for exercise in a safe, outdoor play area.
C) Denies the dogs regular veterinary care.
D) Does not offer the dogs proper food and water.
E) Separates the puppies from their mothers at too young an age.

These are the typical provisions contained in proposed anti-puppy mill bills and laws. Want a definition of a puppy mill? It’s any breeder who does not comply with the above.


We have too often seen even inspected operations finally exposed as puppy mills, because the current regulations are far too weak.
Let’s weed out the bad breeders and puppy mills and leave breeding to quality breeders. Who could oppose that?


Obviously, the puppy mills are not being inspected – as for one thing there are too few inspectors.
We’ve also seen where inspectors allowed horrible conditions to go on – through multiple inspections.

Only recently has legislation been proposed to cover all breeders, those who sell to commercial operations and over the internet.

We need to make sure the dogs get regular play time and clean housing and clean food and water. Sadly, too often this is not happening.

The USDA license is too often – sadly – not worth the paper it’s printed on and it will be until the regulations are improved.

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No logic coming from those who oppose puppy mill regulations

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I’m gonna keep hammering away at this, because every time I read about those opposing breeding regulations in states across the map, the same, tired, twisted mess keeps sinking to the bottom of the debate pond.

So let’s review the basic proposals and specific regulations – with the key follow-up question – WHO COULD BE AGAINST THAT?!

** HUMANE HOUSING: Usually, the proposals in state bills set minimum, reasonable standards for the size of cages where the breeding dogs are housed or set a space requirement that allows the dogs room enough to turn around freely and lay down comfortably. And of course the cages should be free of feces and other unhealthy conditions.

WHO COULD BE AGAINST THAT? – No reasonable person could opposed this provisions – PERIOD. The alternative is to allow breeders to force the dogs to live in horrible conditions.

** DAILY EXERCISE: The bills typically call for minimal amounts of time each day, when the dogs should be allowed to play or at least walk around a bit outside or within some open area.

WHO COULD BE AGAINST THAT? – No one with an ounce of compassion in their soul would really suggest dogs housed in breeding kennels should be kept in their cages 24/7. We’d never want pets in homes to live this way.

** CLEAN FOOD AND WATER: Self-explanatory.

WHO COULD BE AGAINST THAT? – The alternative would be dirty water and scummy food? Only a moron would not want the dogs to get clean food and water.

** VETERINARY CARE: Again, self-explanatory.

WHO COULD BE AGAINST THAT? – Of course, I can hear the pro-puppy mill types saying, “Nobody tells me what to do with my property. It’s just like my car, I change the oil when I want to.” And that pretty sums up where animals stand with the pro-puppy mill side.

** LIMITS ON THE NUMBER OF TIMES FEMALES SHOULD BE PREGNANT IN A GIVEN TIME FRAME: Some of the proposals I’ve seen include this regulation and it’s a good one. The females should be given time for their bodies to rest. They are not factory machines.

WHO COULD BE AGAINST THAT? – This, along with the other provisions, aids in the health and welfare of the dogs. It’s common sense and good veterinary science.

WHO IS FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE? – Animal welfare advocates and quality breeders and every single human with the ability to think logically and have compassion for animals.

Yes – quality breeders meet or exceed the standards of care being proposed across the nation. The only breeders who would be impacted are those that do not meet the minimums. And that’s the point – isn’t it?

I repeat – That’s the point, isn’t it?

And yet, we have groups like the AKC and others out fighting every bill to regulate dog breeding.

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How is it possible that a few state senators blocked puppy mill legislation in NC?

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We should not have state or federal legislative systems where a few elected officials with an ax to grind or a special-interest group to support can block extremely reasonable legislation that has the overwhelming support of the public.

Despite what some members of the US Supreme Court would have us falsely believe, people have the rights, not the special interests.

In North Carolina, Republicans hold super majorities in the House and Senate. The House voted in overwhelming numbers to pass a previous anti-puppy mill bill. A very small number of senators blocked the Senate version from moving out of committee.

Now, with the breeding previsions inserted into a budget bill, the same few individuals have managed to make sure the protections never come to a full vote. In negotiations over two overall versions of the budget, they managed to get the animal-welfare text removed – again.

As I’ve noted before, the arguments against the proposed legislation to protect puppy mill dogs and cats have no basis in reality. I can’t even imagine an alternate reality where these arguments might work.

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Puppy mill deniers keep getting it wrong

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Read most any article about proposed anti-puppy mill legislation and underneath you will most likely find comments from those opposed to improved protections for animals.

Or the letters to the editor section will feature this sort of drivel or you can find it on some organization’s website.

Of late, those fighting against better regulations are crying foul over two bills in the North Carolina General Assembly. The crying has pushed a few state senators to block HB930. So NC Governor Pat McCrory is trying to push through anther plan, as part of his proposed budget (SB842), to transfer enforcement of such laws from the Department of Agriculture to the law enforcement arm of the state.

It makes sense, but we also need the better regulations so that law enforcement officials state wide will have the tools they need to combat puppy mills and all forms of animal cruelty.

(I will post more details on these sections of SB842 very soon.)

Some individuals are claiming North Carolina doesn’t have a puppy mill problem. This is just insane. With the state’s lack of regulations, puppy mill operations are hiding in the shadows and they know the odds of being uncovered are slim.

And the propaganda is flying, suggesting people’s right to have pets is being attacked and the right to breed dogs or cats is being attacked. The reality is the only entities being regulated are puppy mills.

Those who can’t practice within the minimum guidelines being proposed should never be allowed to breed animals – period.

And of course this other side keeps spreading the notion that a definition of the phrase ‘puppy mill’ does not exist. This one is one of the most extreme cases of propaganda floating around.

Puppy mills and kitten mills are substandard breeding operations where the dogs or cats live 24/7 or a vast majority of every day locked in small cages, in unsanitary conditions. The animals rarely to never are allowed time to play or even walk around for exercise and rarely to never are given veterinary care or proper food and water.

Another area where the propaganda slides far from reality is the suggestion that breeders would never mistreat or neglect dogs, as they know it would hurt their chances of selling the puppies.

As we’ve seen in every puppy-mill bust ever – this isn’t true. As long as these mass-production operations can sell the puppies to the unsuspecting segment of the population, they care very little about what happens later with the health of the puppies or about the suffering of the parent dogs.

This is happening all over the country right now. This notion that breeders can’t mistreat their dogs because it would cut into sales is millions of miles off Reality Road.

And then we have the attacks on the Humane Society of the US and the ASPCA. This effort is ONLY designed to push the debate away from the suffering of the dogs and cats trapped in mills. We can’t let the puppy mill supporters get away with it.

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Minnesota’s important new puppy mill regulations begin July 1

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As of July 1, all commercial breeding operations within the state of Minnesota will be required to obtain a license and will be subjected to annual inspections.

Inspections are a key element that all states should enact. As long as breeding facilities meet minimum standards of care, they will have nothing to fear. Quality breeding operations will be allowed to continue to operate.

The notion propagated by groups such as the AKC, suggesting breeding regulations will harm quality breeders, is wrong on its face. And of course, those who cannot meet minimum standards of care should be shut down.

A bill to regulate puppy mills in my home state of North Carolina has regrettably stalled in the State Senate. Hopefully, the success in the Minnesota will help push North Carolina to take up the cause of compassion.



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AKC continues to oppose puppy-mill regulations

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I read an interesting article from WCNC out of Charlotte, NC – back in late February that I saved to soak in and then comment on later.

The headline was – “AKC leads lobbying against NC’s puppy mill law.” The proposed law is in the form of House Bill 930, which is currently held up in the North Carolina Senate.

As the article notes, this is a compromise bill and from previous reports contains standards of care that follow those published by the American Kennel Club. Yet the AKC is now in a position where its lobbyist are opposing those standards.

WCNC reports all other industries dropped their opposition to the NC legislation, while the AKC continues to fight anything that might cut into the numbers produced by mass-breeding operations; you know – puppy mills.

Kim Alboum of the HSUS in NC is quoted as saying – “The American Kennel Club actually receives money for all the puppies that [are] registered through them.” Yes – that is the key.

And we are reminded that the New York Times recently reported the AKC “often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees And “Roughly 40 percent of the AKC’s $61 million in revenue came from fees related to registration.”

And then a statement from the AKC is included, one based far more on wildly-inaccurate propaganda than facts.

For example, the claim is made that the bill would make the job of law enforcement more difficult. This flies in the face of law enforcement statements from around map, where officials are calling for better tools to fight this sort of abuse.

The AKC tosses out the tired old claims about the regulations being based on numbers and that they don’t cover hobby breeders such as hunters. But the huge reality is this – IF a bill ever included ALL breeders, the AKC would be first out of the box to scream that is wasn’t fair. This crying about the bill not covering everyone is pure nonsense from groups like the AKC.

The NC bill passed in the House 101-14, but some twisting by a few Senate members has it held up there – unfortunately. Another big item of note in the WCNC article is the AKC campaign donations to Senator Bill Rabon, who is a ringleader in blocking the legislation.


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Minnesota could improve regulations on dog breeders

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The Minnesota state legislature could vote this month on a bill to regulation dog breeding in the state and offer a better means to uncover puppy mill breeders.

The article posted March 28 does start out with a somewhat unsupported statement – “Most dog and cat breeders in the state of Minnesota play by the rules, but what about the ones that don’t?

How does the writer know this. At this point in time, I would venture to say the quality breeders are out-numbered by the substandard breeders, even to the degree of breeding practices that take into account genetics.
The article reports the proposed bill features provisions for annual inspections, record keeping and “minimum health protocols.”

One dog breeder is quoted, who doesn’t like regulation that requires the dogs receive some physical affection. Who could be anti affection?
And I’m sure the AKC types will roll out their objections, as they usually oppose inspections and health standards and anything that might lead to better, more humane care. They believe it would be terrible for inhumane conditions to be uncovered during an inspection. Certainly they can’t be opposed to inspections where the breeder is taking great care of their dogs or cats.
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Wellington, Fla. bans dog and cat sales in stores

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Another community has banned the sale of dogs and cats in stores. We really need this trend to spread much faster, to every state in the nation.

No stores in Wellington, Fla. reportedly sell dogs or cats at this time, but the city council chose to act proactively this week to ban the practice. There is one correction – for the following sentence from the Palm Beach Post story from Wednesday.

Any pet stores in the future could still sell animals from animal shelters and rescue organizations.

We definitely don’t want stores “selling” any dogs or cats. It should be a process where homeless pets are adopted at these stores through the rescue groups and shelters.

The article reports the council also set standards for breeding operations, to combat puppy mills:

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said the changes ban having more than 20 puppies or 20 kittens on a property, breeding a female more than five cycles in a row and sets limits on how small a cage animals can be kept in.

Sounds like a forward-thinking town.

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