By Dr. Donna Watson
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. These dogs are raised in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters. Puppy mill puppies are sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads, and at swap meets.
Dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked in columns. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.
These puppies are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions including heart disease and blood and respiratory disorders and often arrive in pet stores and in their new homes with diseases or infirmities ranging from parasites to pneumonia.
Florida has virtually no animal mills, but what it does have is one of the largest number of pet stores in the country. Over 45 ordinances have been passed just in Florida in an effort to shut them down.
We have some notorious pet stores here in South Florida that have each been sued numerous times for selling sick dogs for enormous profit. Where they buy these dogs to sell to the public is where the tragedy begins. They buy them at puppy mills, not private breeders.
As of today Palm Beach County has passed bans in 7 cities. Miami-Dade bans have won approval in 15 cities. Broward now has 12 cities which include Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Hallandale Beach, Lauderhill, Margate, North Lauderdale, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Tamarac, Wilton Manors, and Hollywood—but not Fort Lauderdale.
Hallandale city commissioner Michelle Lazarow is the leading expert and legislator getting most of these bills passed. ”I have advocated and educated colleagues in close to 40 communities in Florida and helped pass legislation in over 35 of those cities, saving residents heartache over sick and ill puppies while at the same time helping to stop massive animal cruelty,” she said.
The days of the “Norman Rockwell” paintings of puppies in the windows are over. We have pulled back the curtain of cruelty and deception. It is time for the officials to listen and learn why this form of commerce must cease in their communities.
We do not suggest that these pet stores that sell these dogs close their stores. That serves no one. What they can, and should, do is change the model of their business to where they can sell our wonderful shelter animals. Pet Supermarket and others do that now, and they stay in business.
We want these stores to stay in business and prove that they can make this transition. There are plenty of full breed dogs in the shelters and others that are just as adorable and loving, and in need of a good home. This encourages a more “Humane model of pet stores” and decreases the large number of euthanasia’s happening at the shelters due to over population. They can also sell supportive items for pets like the commercial stores do and still make a profit. It is truly a win-win for all. They should not be able to make large profits on the souls of these helpless animals.
Recently the Broward County commissioners refused to pass the ordinance in an abysmal display of lobbyist pressure. Many Broward residents wanted the ban, but did not appear at the hearing and voice their opinions, since it was scheduled in the middle of the work day.
Miramar is up next on August 17th to hopefully embrace the ban. I urge all of you to attend this meeting, email the commissioners and let them know we support the humane treatment of animals over big profits by these pet stores. One city at a time, we are making a difference in this most important subject of animal rights.
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