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May 21, 2014

The Pet Offensive – New Strategies to Combat Puppy Mills

At The HSUS’s Animal Care Expo, the largest animal protection conference in the nation, I announced yesterday that Maddie’s Fund has pledged $4 million to The HSUS, over three years, to conduct an online campaign against puppy mills. The campaign will focus on discouraging people from purchasing dogs from puppy mills through the Internet, and redirect them to responsible avenues to acquire a companion animal, mainly through shelters and rescues.  It’s a tremendously exciting new element to our already existing, multifaceted anti-puppy-mill campaign. 

Rich Avanzino, president of Maddie’s Fund, addressed 2,000 attendees at Animal Care Expo, announced the grant, and explained his organization’s commitment to battling the mills and finding a home for every adoptable dog and cat.  We are proud to partner with this leading animal welfare foundation, which started due to the generous commitment of David and Cheryl Duffield.  They’ve committed hundreds of millions of dollars – more than any other individuals in our movement’s history -- to help companion animals in honor of their beloved late dog, Maddie.

Puppy mill dogs
The HSUS
This movement against puppy mills is gaining momentum at many levels.

Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota also gave us reason to cheer yesterday when he signed into law a bill that will establish more humane breeding standards in a state notorious for some of the most abusive puppy mill operations in the nation.  Minnesota is home to several of the problem puppy mills cited in The HSUS’ recently released “101 Puppy Mills” report.

Minnesota is the 25th state in the last six years to adopt state standards for more humane care of dogs at large-scale breeding operations. The new law, which goes into effect July 1, requires commercial dog and cat breeders to obtain a state license and to submit to annual inspections by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and imposes administrative and criminal penalties against those found guilty of violations, among other improvements.  

The movement against puppy mills is also gaining momentum at the local level.  Recently, I wrote on the blog about both Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, restricting the retail sale of puppy mill dogs. In recent years, 47 cities, municipalities, and counties have said they’ve had enough with small businesses peddling puppy mill dogs, and have helped to drive the market toward shelters and rescue groups and responsible breeders. 

Pet supply stores can be part of the solution, not the problem, by pursuing the adoption model for homeless animals. At Expo, we are happy to have the support of PetSmart Charities, Petco Foundation and Petfinder.  Among them, these charities have helped millions of dogs and cats find adoptive families in the last few years alone. 

It takes a multipronged approach, and much more, to turn around the seemingly intractable problem of puppy mills.  But this year’s Expo, the announcement about the Maddie’s Fund grant and the new Minnesota law are reminders of the great progress we are making – with more progress and momentum to follow in the months and years ahead.

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