It’s Puppy Mill Awareness Month!

In 2003 — the year before Facebook got its start, and two years ahead of the launch of Twitter — a group calling itself Puppy Mill Awareness launched a web site, designating one day in September “Awareness Day” and hosting regular events to educate dog lovers about the horrors that routinely take place at puppy mills. The site bravely faced some very inconvenient truths about the cruelty involved in the cuteness available for sale at pet stores.

Today, Facebook and Twitter are two huge reasons that our nation’s awareness of puppy-mill atrocities is at an all-time high. With high-profile organizations including the ASPCA tweeting with the trending hashtags #stoppuppymills and #endpuppymills, it’d be pretty difficult to remain oblivious to what goes on at high-volume-breeding hellholes (unless, that is, you live under a rock).

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On Saturday, September 15 in Des Moines, the Iowa Friends of Companion Animals hosted its third annual Puppy Mill Awareness Day Dog Walk. But as recently as four years ago, average dog lovers had no idea that those irresistible “puppies in the window” were produced — factory-farm style, for maximum profit — in appallingly inhumane, neglectful, filthy conditions. At high-volume breeding facilities, dogs live outdoors, subjected to the elements in wire cages caked with fecal matter. Without ever experiencing kindness or compassion or a single creature comfort, they are forced to churn out litter after litter. Then, when physically spent and no longer able to earn their keep, they’re tossed out with the trash and left to die. Literally.

Despite the tireless efforts of animal advocacy groups such as the Companion Animal Protection Society, celebrities continued to patronize pet shops — notably, Cindy McCain, who impulse-purchased a pup during a visit to New York City. But today, it would be political suicide for a presidential candidate’s wife to do something so politically incorrect. With a nation of dog lovers growing ever more aware of puppy mill atrocities, fixing such a gaffe would necessitate the top public relations operatives in crisis management.

More and more, groups such as Chicago’s The Puppy Mill Project are mobilizing to do their part. Meanwhile, the recently-aired HBO documentary One Nation Under Dog deliberately includes shocking, unforgettable footage of dogs, living and dead, being sprung by intrepid rescuers from unimaginably horrific conditions. No one who see this powerful film could, I believe, wrap their head around buying a pup from a pet store ever again.

Puppy mill awareness is spreading. The movement now has more than one day devoted to it – it’s got the entire month of September. “Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die” is a philosophy being adopted by increasing numbers of Americans, as an understanding of the pet overpopulation crisis has reached critical mass, and we all pitch in to work toward humane solutions.

When and how did you first become aware of puppy mill wrongs, and the urgent need for each of us to do our part to right them? What are some of your favorite puppy mill awareness and rescue groups? How will you celebrate Puppy Mill Awareness Month? Please share in the comments.

About the Author: Julia Szabo is a columnist for Dogster Magazine.

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Virginia C.
Virginia C3 years ago

Please sign my petition to the Humane Society of the United States asking them to change the laws to help Rescue Groups. These people are doing this on a volunteer basis and using all their own resources. I am hoping my petition can help them in some way by forcing the animal abusers to pay a fine to the Rescue Groups.

Angela B.
Angela B4 years ago

We raised german sheppards for many years and we treated our animals with love and respect. A good breeder takes good care of their animals, making sure they are healthy, happy, well fed and well sheltered. We took our pups to the vet to have them checked out, dewormed and vaccinated and we sold them privately. I had a confrontation with the owner of a pet store in the town close to me about where they acquired their puppies. There were 3 puppy mills busted in my area in the last 7 years and I hope the owners rot in jail.

Marcia Shiel
M s4 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

spay neuter and adopt!

Carol Taylor
Carol Taylor4 years ago

All we can do is stop the puppy.

Evelyn W.
Evelyn W4 years ago

Janet f. Sorry but you have your info wrong.First there is a large difference between breeders and puppy mills.A true concerned breeder will always take back a puppy they bred.They stay involved during the dogs entire life.President Obama's dog was returned to his breeder.Then he was given to the President by Senator Kennedy,who did purchase his 2 port.water dogs from the same breeder.Obamas dog was a second hand dog.All rescue dogs are second hand dogs.Just this one was lucky enough to be returned to a person who cared.Yes I would have rather Obama had gotten his dog from a rescue,rescues need the good press,but that is not how it happened.The article is also trying to ban puppy mills.True breeders,do not send their dogs to pet stores.They have applications and contracts.I have been working with rescues for almost 40 years now.And all of us who do rescue around here,use breeders for help.Breeders have great networking,they help get the word out.they take in and foster rescues when the normal homes are busting at the seems.Sorry that I went on so long,but I HATE puppy mills,I have been at the closing of dozens,seeing it 1st hand is gut wrenching.

Anna Donnelly
Anna Donnelly4 years ago

Yes, we can shut down every puppy in the U.S. All of us concerned animal rights people need to stop giving to the the the animals welfare organisations and lobbying groups unless they can send pre-printed petitions for people to sign to send to their political representatives when they send out requests asking for money for their cause. What are these different organisations doing with the money? What are they doing to shut down pupply mills? Does anyone ever see financial reports or do they ever disclose what happens to the donations? If small countries can do it, what is wrong with a big country like the U.S. that they can't do it?

Sagana V

How could anyone be cruel enough to harm these amazing creatures? Thank you for sharing.

Heather M
Heather Marvin4 years ago

Education about these mills is the best way to stop these mills operating.

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)