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Pet Industry and Animal Welfare Organizations Join Forces to Address Puppy Mill Abuse

Pet industry associations and animal welfare organizations have joined forces in an industry-­wide effort to improve conditions for dogs and puppies kept by substandard commercial breeders and sold to consumers. The goal of the group is to create lasting change in the commercial breeding industry to ensure proper and humane care and safety of all dogs and puppies.     

While additional outreach to other stakeholders is underway, participating organizations dedicated to the endeavor to date include: American Pet Products Association (APPA), The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and retailers Petco and Petland.

“The ASPCA has witnessed first-­hand the unspeakable cruelty and horrific conditions of substandard puppy mills, and we are committed to working with key industry leaders to help end the inhumane treatment of dogs in these facilities,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “We are pleased that the industry has come together in a meaningful way to acknowledge this abuse, and confront it head on.”    

The participating organizations have agreed to a definition of a puppy mill, which is often a very controversial and misunderstood term. The group has defined a puppy mill as a dog breeding operation, which offers dogs for monetary compensation or remuneration, in which the physical, psychological and/or behavioral needs of the dogs are not being fulfilled due to inadequate housing, shelter, staffing, nutrition, socialization, sanitation, exercise, veterinary care, and/or inappropriate breeding. For more details on this definition, visit www.safehealthydogs.com.  

Organization representatives recognize that this has been a challenging issue and understand the importance of working together for meaningful change for the benefit of animals. The project is intended to improve conditions for dogs used for commercial breeding, while at the same time ensuring that consumers who choose to purchase a puppy have a reliable and more humane source for obtaining them.     

“As animal welfare and pet industry leaders, we have no greater responsibility than to ensure that dogs in our country are treated humanely,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “This unprecedented collaborative effort is an attempt by stakeholders involved either commercially, recreationally, or philanthropically with pets to deal with the worst actors in the dog-­breeding trade and define types of conduct as out-­of-­bounds for our society.”  

Leading pet industry associations and retailers also applaud the effort.  

“This effort demonstrates tremendous collaboration among organizations, associations, companies and individuals all working together to protect and further enhance the lives of pets and we are proud to be an instrumental part of it,”  said Bob Vetere, President and CEO, The American Pet Products Association.  

"PIJAC has long been committed to ensuring that prospective pet owners have the ability to acquire dogs and puppies from responsible breeders. It is our hope that this collective effort of our organizations will make certain that all animals are raised in a humane manner," said Mike Canning, President and CEO of PIJAC.  

“While we have never sold dogs and promote a Think Adoption First philosophy at Petco, we do believe that all dogs bred for commercial sale should be treated humanely and cared for responsibly, that is why we are participating in this coalition effort,” said Charlie Piscitello, Senior Vice President of Petco, and President of the Petco Foundation.     

The groups involved are excited about the potential of this endeavor to institute meaningful change for animals and look forward to inviting the participation of other stakeholders as the effort moves forward.

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