Virginia Puppy Mill Horrors

10 years ago

A group of religious leaders met in the House Office Building on Capitol Hill on November 7 to sign A Religious Proclamation for Animal Compassion, issuing a call to action "for people of all faiths to reclaim a commitment to animals," in a signing witnessed by several members of Congress.

Episcoveg was there and took some great photos to prove it.

The proclamation cites five critical areas of animal welfare and solutions:

1. Adopting homeless animals rather than purchasing companion animals from commercial breeders.

2. Reducing meat consumption and buying only from farms that use humane practices.

3.Rejecting forms of entertainment that harm or exploit animals.

4. Becoming aware of current harmful medical and commercial testing on animals and advocating for more humane alternatives.

5. Speaking out against overly aggressive land development that encroaches upon wildlife populations and habitats.

This happened - appropriately - just days after approximately 1,000 dogs were seized from a puppy mill in Virginia, as reported in yesterday's Washington Post and other news outlets.

Volunteers from a local animal rights group said that when they visited dog breeder Junior Horton's property in undercover fashion, they were overwhelmed by the numbers of dogs crammed into wire cages in several outbuildings. In one, whelping mothers lay with their distended bellies under heat lamps, waiting to give birth. The dogs appeared to have food and water, but feces under their cages had not been cleaned.

Larrowe said Horton had a local license to run a kennel for 500 animals and had exceeded that twofold. He also did not have the required U.S. Department of Agriculture license that would allow him to sell dogs to commercial operations such as pet stores.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, only 16 breeders are licensed by the USDA in Virginia, although approximately 1,000 outfits in the state sell dogs. Video coverage of this story on the Humane Society's Website is disturbing, but a necessary eye-opener for anyone who cares about the plight of would-be companion animals kept in cages to breed and raised in filth.

Search for the term "puppy mill" overall and you'll get lots of hits - most of them with graphics that are more depressing than they are Cute Overload fodder. Although Virginia is in the spotlight now, the Humane Society estimates that there are 10,000 puppy mills operating in the country.

Carlotta at Cool Dog Hall of Fame posted an article in which Horton defends his actions.

“What we’re dealing with is dognappers,” Horton said.

“I don’t think they should’ve took my business right at Christmas. I had a lot of Christmas pups coming up. I think it was a low blow. I think it was just slimy the way they done it.”

Therese at PetSitUSA begs people not to give pets as gifts, particularly purchased from pet stores.

If you’re considering buying a puppy or kitten for someone for the holidays DON’T DO IT! Don’t help further the cruel puppy mill industry by putting more money in their pockets.

If you do feel the need to give someone a pet as a gift, give them a gift certificate to adopt a pet from a local animal shelter. This way the person you’re giving the promise of a pet to can find the one that they feel a connection with. And, if on the other hand, the person decides they simply aren’t ready for a pet, the money you spent on the gift certificate will be a great donation to help needy pets.

The Humane Society's "Stop Puppy Mills" campaign educates people about the safest, most human ways to acquire a dog, and The Humane Society and the ASPCA offer answers to frequently asked questions about puppy mills.

Here's a wishlist for Best Friends including many supplies needed by rescue dogs, recently posted by Elaine Vigneault.

Joy at Dogster's For the Love of Dog Blog has recently had issues with puppy mills in Amish communities, although the commenters are disagreeing.

Foxye writes at Wired in the Floribbean and also helps Buster, "The Wired Fox Terrorist" manage his posts as well. They linked to a U.S.A. Today article on the puppy mill situation.

Johann the Dog and his helpful Mum have lots of resources for people trying to adopt a dog following the Virginia raid.

AbbyK9's writer is concerned about the puppy mill issue in general.

That is just sickening. Four million puppies from puppy mills. That is four million puppies bred from parents who receive no health checks, no genetic testing, no anything. Four million puppies where the parents are never proven as being to the standard of their breed in appearance, size, working ability, or temperament. Four million puppies just like that cute "designer dog" at the local pet store that looks nice and is diagnosed with giardia, demodectic mange, and who knows what else on the first vet visit after purchase.

Ashley at BowWowDogBlog has some tips for identifying a puppy mill and knowing when to walk away.

Laurie White blogs at LaurieWrites

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