While over 80 local governments around the country have passed ordinances prohibiting the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, no U.S. state has yet enacted such a law—but that could soon change.
On June 9, the Maine Legislature passed a bill, L.D. 335, to prohibit new pet stores in the state from selling puppies and kittens sourced from commercial breeders, allowing them to offer adoptions only of dogs and cats from shelters and rescue groups. The bill would also prohibit existing pet stores from selling pets sourced from breeders (in any part of the country) who fail to meet the basic standards of care required by federal law.
Maine’s legislature is the first in the nation to take this groundbreaking step against puppy mill cruelty! The bill now goes to Governor Paul LePage for final action. Unfortunately, our friends in Maine believe there is a distinct possibility that the Governor will veto the bill. We can’t let that happen!
L.D. 335 needs Governor LePage’s signature to become law—it would be the first state law of its kind and set an amazing precedent for other states. If you live in Maine, we urge you to call the Governor’s office at (207) 287-3531 and leave a message that as a Maine voter and taxpayer, you want him to sign L.D. 335 to strike a blow against puppy mill cruelty. Maine residents are also welcome to email the Governor from the ASPCA Advocacy Center.
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, we’ll reflect on the way our moms inspire us, love us and cheer us on. But before we do, we’d like to pause to remember that for millions of puppies nationwide, the word “mom” is nothing but a distant memory.
Every day, thousands of puppies are born into large, substandard breeding facilities commonly known as puppy mills. They're pulled away from their mothers, sometimes after just eight weeks, and sold into the commercial dog market. After little-to-no recovery time, the mother dogs are forced to breed again. When they can no longer reproduce, they are often abandoned or killed.
Exciting news: After weeks of providing medical care and behavioral enrichment to dogs rescued from an Alabama puppy mill, the ASPCA has begun transporting the dogs to various animal welfare agencies in 11 states, where they will be made ready for adoption.
More than 130 dogs were seized from the puppy mill, including Chihuahuas, Chows and Pomeranians ranging in age from 2 months to 5 years. The dogs were living in filthy, deplorable conditions, with many suffering from malnourishment and other medical issues.
The dogs will be transported to the following animal shelters and rescue groups via the ASPCA Animal Relocation and Transport Initiative's Nancy Silverman Rescue Ride and Florida Disaster Animal Response and Transport (FL DART):
Angels of Assisi (Roanoke, Virginia)
Capital Area Humane Society (Hilliard, Ohio)
Cedar Bend Humane Society (Waterloo, Iowa)
Charleston Animal Society (North Charleston, South Carolina)
Citizens for Humane Action (Columbus, Ohio)
Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Humane Society of Calvert County (Sunderland, Maryland)
Humane Society of Great Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)
Humane Society of Greater Savannah (Savannah, Georgia)
Humane Society of Pinellas (Clearwater, Florida)
McKamey Animal Care Center (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Four of the dogs are in need of behavioral rehabilitation for extreme fear and under-socialization, and will receive treatment at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey.
The puppy mill seizure was the result of an investigation that began after local authorities received numerous complaints about conditions at the breeding facility. Both owners of the facility were charged with animal cruelty.
Looking to adopt but don't live in one of these states? Visit aspca.org/adopt to find dogs near you in need of a home!
Every now and then, we come across special adoptable pets that need a little extra help finding a home. This week, we’re shining our Adoption Spotlight on Kissy, Jack and Janet—a trio of playful Akitas who are sure to make their future adopters very happy!
Kissy, Jack and Janet came to the ASPCA after being rescued by the Oregon Humane Society from a large, commercial breeding facility. Their life in the facility had left them terrified of human contact, so they were sent to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey. Over their four-month course of treatment, each dog’s sweet and special personality began to shine through. At the Rehab Center, they learned how to enjoy everyday activities like going for walks, being pet, coming when called and—most importantly—trusting humans again. Now these loving pups are ready to find their forever homes:
Kissy is a curious 5-year-old girl. She may be shy at first, but don’t let that fool you—this pretty lady would love nothing more than to play with you and her favorite squeaky toys! Kissy likes to play with other dogs and would be thrilled to go home with a patient adopter who can love and care for her.
Looking for a goofy, but clever, new best friend? Jack is your guy. This sweet boy loves going for walks and playing with his favorite toys. Jack loves his dog friends, but may need some training to help improve his manners.
Janet is an energetic girl who loves snow and zooming around a fenced yard! She can be reserved around new people, but this curious girl will warm up for walks through the woods with her new family. Janet likes other dogs and would love to go to a household with a dog friend she can play with.
These sweet dogs have been through a lot and they have so much love to give. They would like nothing more than to find forever families to call their own. If you’re interested in adopting or want to learn more about Kissy or Jack, please visit www.bigeastakitarescue.net or call (609) 388-7004. For more information on Janet, please visit www.sammyshope.org.
As our recent puppy mill raid in Alabama illustrates, there is a real need for states to step up and regulate commercial dog breeding facilities. These laws not only benefit dogs, but also potential pet owners, taxpayers, animal shelters and the rescue community: states with no laws to oversee these businesses pay a high price when these facilities spiral out of control.
Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. Breeding dogs at mills often spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements—or crammed inside filthy, wire-floored structures, stacked on top of one another, where they never get the chance to feel sunlight or breathe fresh air. To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters.
Many people think that what we’ve just described is already illegal—but that’s not the case. The federal Animal Welfare Act regulates some breeding facilities, but not all of them. Further, the federal standards are far from what most people consider to be humane and amount to nothing more than mere survival standards for dogs. Most importantly, poor enforcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture means thousands of dogs are left to suffer in inadequate and inhumane conditions year after year, even in federally licensed facilities.
States have the authority to enact and enforce higher standards of humane care for commercially bred animals, yet 21 states still do not have any laws regulating large-scale dog breeders, making them magnets for puppy mills. Alabama is one of these states. Kentucky is another, and so is Michigan (are you seeing a pattern yet?). Please see the chart below to learn how your state stacks up. You’ll see that we have a lot of work left to do.
The ASPCA has a long history of working to pass laws that protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities. You can help us by joining ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. If you live in North Carolina or Montana, you can take action right now by supporting puppy mill legislation that’s pending in those states. And to learn more about puppy mills, please visit nopetstorepuppies.com.
Update, 3/14: Thanks to those of you who pointed out that we had mistakenly identified Wisconsin as a state with no substantive standards of care when in fact, there are some strong standards in place for commercially bred dogs there—our apologies for the mistake! Wisconsin's status has been updated in the version below. We do our best to keep these charts up to date, but sometimes we miss things and we want you to let us know if you see anything inaccurate.