The State of Maine is poised to become the first in the union to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores with the introduction of L.D. 335. I seriously hope they do.
I first heard of this bill through someone sharing on Facebook a news article done by the Portland Press Herald called How much is that doggie in the window made to suffer. It is an opinion piece supporting LD 335. What got me, however, were the comments..
Oh the comments on things on the internet.. one should always stay so very far away from those..
I was curious what the sentiment was of the people reading the article. I had a feeling of what I was in for because of the original post I saw on Fb, but I was still quite ticked off. Most of the comments by people from Maine (Mainers or Maniacs, you get to decide) were supportive of the article and the proposed law. There were a LOT of people from 'away' (as we like to call them) who wanted to get their two cents in. I am guessing most of them run or have some financial incentive to support USDA Commercial Breeding Facilities for dogs... aka Puppy Mills.
These people used very inflammatory words and arguments to try to encourage people against this government intrusion. They used words like 'retail rescue' to influence people into believing that rescues are just in it for the money. They cited high adoption fees as one way rescues were just in it for the money. They cited the fact that rescues are importing dogs from down south to 'sell' at their 'facilities' and 'events' (failing to call them shelters or adoption events) as examples of "Big Bad Animal Welfare Monopoly" trying to line their own pockets and pushing the little ol pet store owner around and making it impossible for them to run a legitimate business. One person even went as far as to wonder why Maine doesn't just ban pet stores all together - like there is no reason to go into a pet store other than to buy a dog.
I fear that some people will buy into the arguments. I fear some people STILL do not understand where that puppy in the window comes from. I recently had a co-worker who wanted a specific breed dog, and all of us here at the office encouraged her to find a breeder. She did, but the breeder was a responsible one and wouldn't have puppies ready for about nine months. This woman wanted one now. The breed is not very popular so there aren't many in rescues waiting to be adopted and the ones that were were old... We all counselled her on the dangers of mill dogs.. but she found a pet store that ASSURED her that they do not buy from mills, that they only buy from "reputable" "USDA inspected" facilities and the puppies were all in wonderful health.. so she bought the dog.. And that dog had a TON of health issues right off the bat, and I fear she is in for a long road of health issues that will pop up over the dog's lifetime. One opponent of banning puppy store puppies commented that with a pet store dog you get a health guarantee and you know what you are getting. Sadly that is not what happens in reality. Yes, the pet store will often take the pet back, but who wants to simply return a pup you have taken into your home? Cats and dogs are not toasters, you do not simply return the defective ones.
So this got me thinking, what do people really think when it comes to Pet Store Puppies?
I shared the photo above as probably what we think of when we think of "Puppy Mills" but what about those "reputable" and "USDA inspected" facilities? Do people really think these dogs ever see the figurative light of day? Remember these people are in this for the money so their first priority is to get as many puppies to market as they can. Dogs are kept in cages barely large enough for them. If they are lucky they might have access to run, but that would mean having to catch them if the owners needed to, which is time and work. They are usually on wire cages to facilitate easy clean up of waste. They do not have time to sit around and cuddle each one, give it kisses, play fetch with it. If you own a pet store puppy chances are it's mother sat with out love and comfort either pregnant or nursing until the day she died because she could not produce any more. If she was lucky, she might have been rescued by a local shelter, but that happens so rarely that chances are it didn't happen.
My co-worker got her dog from a pet store I stood outside of weeks before in protest. That store is now closed due to the poor health of the dogs being sold from it. There are four remaining stores in Maine that still sell puppies. One of which also assures it's clients that it's puppies come from 'reputable' commercial breeders - well I'm sure they all do, no one wants to use the dreaded term Puppy Mill - but just look at the photos and reports from these inspectors regarding the facilities. Now imagine the things that are wrong aren't there. Do you still think this is appropriate? Do you want your dog living this way? Do YOU want to live this way?
- Koster, Charlene & Darlene Minneapolis, KS USDA Licence # 48B0271
- Good, Alvin, Good, Mary USDA Licence # 43A5713
- Rottinghaus, Audrey (Wendy Pets) Seneca, KS USDA Licence # 48B0313
I could go on all day.
If you NEED to have a specific breed of dog, find a reputable breeder. They will want you to know about the type of dog you are getting and can discuss with you if that breed is something that will fit in your life style. I have several extended family members who said to me "If I had known then what I know know I wouldn't have bought this dog". They want you to know what you are getting, they want you to love the dog and love the breed. They want you to see the parents, learn about the linage and SEE where your dog was raised. Now in this day and age of Walmartization of everything (we want it NOW and we want it CHEAP) too many people want the type of dog they want and they do not want to wait. In that case know there are rescues for every single solitary breed out there because there are always people who thought they wanted that type of dog and then realized it was not for them. There are ways around supporting the cruelty that is the commercial breeding facilities. Remember that dogs sold online also are more often than not mill dogs. Best case scenario they came from someone who didn't get their dog fixed in time or wasn't diligent when she was in heat.
But Connie, I can hear you thinking, I would NEVER buy a cat or a dog from a pet store, so we're good. Let me ask you, have you ever bought a toy, or some food at a store that sells puppies? If so, you have supported the very system you stand against. How about having a conversation (or a blog post) about what USDA Commercial Breeding Facilities REALLY are.. so when people are assured the pets in the store aren't from mills they will know better.
and if you are in Maine, support L.D. 335
and if you aren't, you could always contact your senator and see if they might be willing to sponsor a similar bill in your state.