We all have a responsibility to get the word out regarding the plight of pets in America. A lot of people buy pets on a spontaneous whim. We all know how those cute little kittens and puppies can tug at our heartstrings! They can be very hard to resist. However, buying an animal from a newspaper ad, a friend of a friend, or a pet store is usually not a good idea and unfortunately many cunning opportunists want to take advantage of your love for animals. The shelters in your area probably have an abundance of animals that need a good home and their lives will be saved by choosing to rescue rather than to purchase from a dealer (and you will definitely feel better about that!).
Let's investigate the problem with purchasing "puppy mill" dogs. First and foremost, whenever a puppy mill animal is purchased a shelter animal loses an opportunity to get out of the shelter alive. If people could just be educated on that point alone a lot of progress could be made. Added to that is the fact that many, if not most, puppy mill animals are of inferior quality and often carry diseases. The animals often present lung and hip problems as they age. Often animals are bred too young, too often, and even when they are unhealthy or too old. The puppy mills generally have no legitimate inspections for cleanliness and often promote diseases.
Puppy mill operators are usually only in the business to make a quick, and often tax free buck. Any animal seller that is only interested in making money should be avoided like the plague (or a poke with a sharp stick). Unscrupulous breeders are rampant in many rural areas in the U.S. Hopefully laws will be stiffened in hopes of identifying and closing down many of these greedy, merciless operators.
What can you do to help? First and foremost, do not buy from any questionable source. Always adopt from a shelter! You will be amazed at the beautiful, healthy, loving animals that you can find. A properly run shelter (some are not) will encourage putting healthy, altered (neutered) animals into foster or adopting homes. The very few dogs deemed too dangerous are almost always euthanized. You can be much more assured with the shelter animal than with the breeder.
In fairness, there are a few breeders that do have high standards for breeding and cleanliness, but let us be honest; these breeders are few and far between. If you are not sure ask for any inspection documents, ask for a money-back guarantee in writing, and always ask for references first. Of course, you will get more accurate information at the shelter than from a breeder seeking a quick, undocumented sale.
Another thing that we all must do is educate our youth about the quality of life and the problems with puppy mills. These animals have feelings and some show traits like love and loyalty that are even superior to most humans. Many shelter animals are perfectly healthy and many are still young. Usually they are in the shelter by no fault of their own. Irresponsible and uneducated owners are usually to blame for putting these animals in the dire situation they are in. Every year millions of pets in America go into to shelters and do not make it back out alive.
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem! Pass the word!