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Don’t Buy Heartache for the Holidays

The HSUS Urges Animal Lovers to Avoid Purchases That Support Puppy Mills


The Humane Society of the United States warns families who are ready to welcome a pet into their homes this holiday to make doubly certain that they are not unwittingly supporting the cruel "puppy mill" industry.

Simple advice: Don't purchase puppies from a pet store, from a Web site, from a classified ad — or from any source where you cannot be absolutely certain that you are dealing with a reputable breeder. The HSUS urges families to first consider adoption from local shelters or rescue groups, where healthy, loving animals need nothing so much as a happy family this holiday.

Puppy mills are mass breeding operations designed to maximize profits. As HSUS investigators and rescue teams have shown over and over again, operators of these facilities commonly disregard the physical, social and emotional health of the dogs. Sloppy mass breeding programs and poor living conditions cause puppies from puppy mills to have more physical and behavioral problems than dogs from reliable sources.

 "The Humane Society of the United States braces itself every year for the upsetting calls that come in right after the holidays," says Stephanie Shain, senior director of the puppy mills campaign for HSUS. "People call about sick or dying puppies who were purchased for the holidays. Too often consumers do not do their homework and end up spending the holiday trying to save a sick animal instead of enjoying the festive season."

To help spread the word, a new video featuring Justin Scally, manager of the HSUS Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force, discusses the suffering he has witnessed at some of the 16 puppy mills The HSUS has helped to shut down this year. Scally also introduces a puppy mill survivor named Brandy.

People who are ready to welcome a dog into their home this holiday should be aware that pet store and Internet sellers have been known — and filmed by undercover investigators — to mislead prospective customers about the source of puppies. If you do deal with a breeder, you should visit the home in person to see how and where the puppy's mother is living. And please, make sure you and your family are ready for the responsibility of a lifetime commitment to a pet.

Puppy Mill Facts:

  • Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care, live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction, and are confined inside cramped wire cages for life. Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles and are destroyed or discarded once they can no longer produce puppies.
  • The HSUS supports compassionate breeders who provide for their dog's physical and mental well-being. Quality breeders don't sell puppies through pet stores or over the Internet. 
  • Puppy mills contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, which results in millions of unwanted dogs euthanized at shelters every year.

For more information on how to adopt or find a good breeder, go to humanesociety.org/puppy.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.