Talking to kids about pet store puppies and puppy mills is no easy task. The last thing parents want to expose their children to is the harsh reality of painful cages, overcrowded conditions, diseases and emotional abuse. To help children understand why they can’t have “that puppy in the window” of your neighborhood pet store, we’ve put together some kid-friendly talking points for tough questions.
Where do pet store puppies come from? Most pet stores puppies come from crowded and unhealthy places called puppy mills.
What is a puppy mill? Puppy mills are like big factories for dogs. This means that many dogs are kept there their entire lives and forced to breed (have puppies). Sadly, puppy mill dogs are not happy. They don’t get to play outside or sleep in a comfy bed. A lot of times they get sick. And there’s usually no one to give them any love.
What happens to puppy mill dogs? Puppies born in a puppy mill are taken away from their mothers very young and usually sent to a pet store, where they are sold to people who don’t know where the puppy really came from. The puppy mill owner doesn’t care about the puppy or the puppy’s mom and dad, who are left behind at the puppy mill after the puppies are sent to the pet store. He or she only cares about making money. That’s why we don’t like buying dogs from pet stores!
Why are people cruel to animals? It’s hard to say what drives a person to be cruel to an animal. In puppy mills, the owners are thinking more about the money than the dogs. Organizations like the ASPCA are working hard to make sure that every animal is happy, safe and loved by helping shut down puppy mills and educate people about why they shouldn’t buy a puppy in a pet store.
What happens to the puppies in a pet store if no one buys them? If a store doesn’t sell a puppy quickly, it will lower the price until someone buys the puppy. The more often pet stores have to do this, the more money they lose. Next time, they won’t order as many puppies.
So how CAN I get a puppy? Good news! Shelters are full of happy, sweet puppies waiting for forever homes. If your family is ready for a pet, you can head to your local shelter to adopt. Not only will you be saving a life, but also you’ll be sending a message to puppy mill owners that what they do is unacceptable! The fewer people who buy their puppies, the fewer puppies they will “make.”
What else can I do? You can start by setting a good example for your friends and community. Ask your mom and dad to take our No Pet Store Puppies pledge not to buy anything (food, supplies, etc.) from pet stores that sell puppies and spread the word about animal adoption.
We’d like to extend a huge “Thanks!” to the inspiring young members of New York City’s Girl Scouts Brownie Troop 3444, who donated a portion of the troop’s cookie sales proceeds to the ASPCA!
Troop 3444’s members are in third grade at The Chapin School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The girls wanted to help abused and abandoned animals recover and find loving homes, so they earmarked a portion of the funds they raised by selling 4,000 boxes of cookies for the ASPCA. One Troop 3444 Brownie, Holly Rosen, sold 750 boxes of cookies! Fellow Brownie Ella Clifford sold an impressive 355 boxes.
We were pleased to welcome the Troop’s members to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where they proudly presented their donation. This group of girls’ dedication to animal welfare is truly an inspiration. On behalf of animals in need nationwide, thanks, Troop 3444!
We have exciting news for middle school students in New York City! The ASPCA has provided a $12,500 grant to Unleashed—a non-profit group that works to build confidence and purpose in young girls—to launch after-school programs to empower young animal advocates.
Participants in the Unleashed after-school programs at various local middle schools will engage in educational programs and projects where they will become animal advocates in their communities. They will learn how to combat problems such as animal homelessness, dog fighting and puppy mills. The girls will also participate in an animal rescue, as well as a social justice carnival.
We’re excited to see these inspiring Unleashed participants make a positive difference for animals in their communities!
Catdance Film Festival is one of the coolest feline-focused events of the year. Sponsored by Fresh Step Litter, Catdance puts a spotlight on cat-centric cinema (you can watch the top five films and vote for your favorite here), and it’s for a great cause. All proceeds from their t-shirt sales benefit the ASPCA. And on top of all that, there’s one other reason we think Catdance is, well, the cat’s pajamas: it’s hosted by Gilles Marini. One of our favorite cat lovers, Gilles is known for his work on 2 Broke Girls and Switched at Birth, and he was recently featured in People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. We caught up with Gilles to talk family, felines, and face-licks in an exclusive ASPCA interview:
ASPCA: Where and when did you get your cats?
Gilles Marini: We got our cat, Penelope, on Mother's Day last year as a present for my daughter Juliana. She’s wanted a kitty for as long as I can remember, and we thought it was the perfect day to make her a pet parent. So far, it has worked out well because she is very good at taking care of Penelope.
ASPCA: What role have pets played in your life?
GM: For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by pets, including cats, dogs, chickens, birds, and lizards. I grew up with a mom that loved animals and always taught us to care for them. They are so amazing and give us so much all the time. My family loves having pets and we will never change that. If you can care for an animal properly, that tells me that you are a good person.
ASPCA: Do your children enjoy interacting with your cats?
GM: My gosh, for sure! Just a few minutes ago my son asked me where Penelope is, and I believe it’s because he wants to take her into the bedroom to cuddle, not to make sure she’s inside. There is not one day that goes by without me seeing my kids playing, caring for, or interacting with Penelope. She is very, very luck for sure.
ASPCA: What have you taught your children so far about being a pet parent and cat lover?
GM: If a child knows how to care for, love, and play with their cat or pet, it shows the kind of adult he or she will be. I’ve seen it happen over and over. I teach my kids to love all living things. We are only in this world for a fraction of a second, so let’s make it count with pure love, compassion, and kindness. It’s what I believe in.
ASPCA: What is your favorite part about being a cat owner?
GM: My favorite part is playing with Penelope! She is great at hide-and-seek, and she is full of love (yes, she also sleeps quite a bit during the day). She licks my face at night when I sleep, but what can you say to that little ball of fur? She does it with love!
Guest blog by Diana Wegner, mother of teen actor and founder of Kids Against Animal Cruelty Lou Wegner
I knew from the start that my son Lou had a way with animals. As a toddler, he looked after our rescued Dalmatian, Belle. Lou would don his knight’s costume and dress Belle as his princess. He would say, “Belle will be safe always” as he wielded his plastic sword.
At age three, we enrolled Lou in Jack Hanna’s Summer Zoo Experience. Over eight summers, he learned that education, kindness and responsibility were key to saving animals on the brink of extinction. He learned about conservation, preservation and ways to get involved.
He also spent two summers at the Ohio Wildlife Center, gaining hands on experience with coyotes, hawks, deer, snakes and other wildlife in rehabilitation that had been injured by cars or intentionally harmed. It was there that Lou saw animal cruelty firsthand.
When we moved to Los Angeles so Lou could pursue an acting career, he saw his first chance to make a difference. Lou discovered that shelters in Los Angeles were extremely overcrowded, and animals were euthanized to make room for many others to come.
Lou was devastated. He took to the streets on weekends with friends and held signs promoting animal adoption and spay/neuter. Photographer Patsy Dunn and actor Sam Dobbins interviewed Lou as he held a sign that said, “Kids Against Animal Cruelty.”
A friend suggested that Lou take the name to Facebook, and Kids Against Animal Cruelty (KAAC) was born. The organization started with 42 members, and has grown to more than 20,000 members with an additional 50,000 in partner coalitions.
KAAC spread across the country, and through the power of social media and teamwork, has helped save thousands of lives. Lou has been a guest on CNN and featured in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and more than 300 other news publications. Lou has recruited teens to run 15 state chapters, with a goal to have chapters in all 50 states. Bringing awareness to the plight of shelter animals and promoting adoption, spay/neuter and pet responsibility are the main goals of the organization.
Recently, ASPCA Corporate Sponsor Subaru hosted a fundraiser created by Abana Jacobs, Subaru Promotions & Sponsorship Specialist for KAAC, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Los Angeles. Participants ran more than 5,000 laps around the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and Subaru donated $1 for each lap around the car.