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February 12, 2010

Don’t Give a Broken Heart for Valentine’s Day

Animal lovers urged to avoid purchases that support puppy mills

Valentine's Day is not only that time where we recognize those who hold a special place in our heart, it's also one of the busiest days of the year for puppy sales after the winter holiday season. The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, urges people who are thinking of giving a puppy as a gift to that special someone to think twice.  And if you think that loved one is ready to welcome a pet into their home this holiday, make doubly certain that you are not unwittingly supporting the cruel "puppy mill" industry.

Instead, choose adoption and visit your local animal shelter. Wonderful dogs and cats are just waiting in shelters to find their forever home. Pet stores and online animal dealers cater to impulse purchases during the holidays, and most of their dogs come from puppy mills. Puppy mill dogs are generally kept in overcrowded cages with poor quality food, lack of socialization and minimal veterinary care, and too many suffer from an array of immediate health and long-term genetic problems.  

"The recipient of your furry gift may not be ready for the commitment involved with the lifetime care of a pet," says Stephanie Shain, senior director of the puppy mills campaign for The HSUS. "The Humane Society of the United States braces itself every year for the upsetting calls that come in right after the holidays like Valentine's Day. 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 occasion."

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.

If you do decide to purchase a puppy, deal only with a reputable 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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Follow The Humane Society of the United States on Twitter.

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.

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