Puppy Mill Documentary Goes Where Many Americans Don't Want to Look
The U.S. is a country with nearly 78.2 million dogs. Last year, we spent almost $50 billion on our beloved companions, yet we still permit the operation of cruel puppy mills where dogs are kept in deplorable and inhumane conditions for their entire lives.
The new HBO documentary “Madonna of the Mills” exposes the startling underbelly of America’s love affair with canine companionship. The U.S. is a country with nearly 78.2 million dogs. Last year, we spent almost $50 billion on our beloved companions, yet we still permit the operation of cruel puppy mills where dogs are kept in deplorable and inhumane conditions for their entire lives.
And puppy mill puppies sold to kind, dog-loving families absorb the added cost of a lifetime of physical defects and emotional trauma, both results of intensive confinement.
In short, puppy mills are all about putting dollars before dogs.
The chain of misery extends from the breeding dogs, the puppies, the families who unwittingly acquire them through, in due course, to municipalities and local animal shelters who step in to help if the relationship breaks down when new owners find they cannot cope with the very real challenges of dogs with serious physical or behavioral problems.
It may be true that the general public is unaware of the industry they’re supporting when they stop to buy that “doggie in the window.” Puppy mills exist because bringing home a pet can still be as simple as heading to the store for a new microwave, mop, or pair of shoes.
While important strides have been made in many states to limit some of the most egregious puppy mill cruelties, challenges presented by a lack of enforcement and weak regulatory measures means that dogs can suffer even when laws are on the books.
But ending the cruel practices of commercial breeding facilities that prioritize profits over animal welfare is not something that has to be done by lawyers and policy-makers alone.
Americans can help shut down puppy mills by turning away from the industry and obtaining our beloved companions in a manner that ensures neither they, nor there kin, have suffered. It’s about acts as simple as refusing to purchase puppies from pet stores or seeking canine companions from shelters, rescues, and responsible breeders who are committed to the health and well-being of their dogs above any monetary benefit they might accrue from their sale.
We consumers and dog lovers need not suffer from buyer’s remorse because we purchased a dog born in a puppy mill. We can demand that dogs not endure a lifetime of painful hereditary defects or confinement in inhumane, unsanitary conditions. And we can afford dogs the respect and dignity of treatment greater than that of mere commodities bought, sold, and bartered without regard for their well-being.
-- Fred O'Regan
For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://ifaw.org