LIFESTYLE

Cesar Millan: Help Me Stop Puppy Mills

Puppy mills have been back in the news over the past couple of weeks as Missouri lawmakers look to soften legislation that would crack down on some of the country’s most notorious.

In November of last year, voters approved the measures proposed to place tougher regulatory standards on breeders and agricultural industries. Now some elected officials are attempting to make the proposed laws less strict. Through my work with my non-profit organization, The Millan Foundation, I meet people all the time who are either unaware of what a puppy mill is, feel helpless to improve the situation, or just don’t understand why it matters.

A puppy mill is a breeding facility with the sole purpose of churning out the most dogs for the least money - and to make the most profit. I have seen, first hand, the devastating conditions of puppy mills, witnessing the horrible state of these dogs, being confined and restricted to cages, raised to produce litter after litter after litter. Most of them were unable to live out their true potential as fulfilled and balanced dogs.

By supporting puppy mills, knowingly or unknowingly, people are allowing these practices to continue, which leads to substandard breeding conditions and inbreeding that can then lead to health and behavioral problems. It is also a major factor in the pet overpopulation crisis we have in this country with 4 to 6 million pets euthanized every year.

Substandard breeding conditions and inbreeding can lead to health and behavioral problems in the puppies bred there. Since the 1980s, the Humane Society of the United States has been fighting to shut down these facilities. You can do your part by making sure to research before you adopt and by keeping yourself informed! Here are some tips to avoid adopting from a puppy mill:

Avoid pet stores, newspaper or journal ads, and great deals on the internet! Many puppy mills supply local pet stores, and ads in newspapers or on websites can easily falsify information. In season two of my show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan I worked with a dog named Bandit. Bandit’s website said that he was from a licensed breeder, but he turned out to be the product of a puppy mill, costing his new family thousands of dollars in vet bills and heartache over his life-threatening health and behavioral problems.

If you are looking to get a dog from a breeder, be sure to do some thorough research. You want to avoid any potential problems and make sure you are using a reputable one. Visit the breeder and ask questions! Ask to see the entire facility where the dogs are bred and kept. Is it clean? Spacious enough? Ask to see the parent dogs as well. Does the breeder show hesitation to let you see the facility or to let you meet the other dogs who are being kept there? Or is the breeder willing to just sell one of his puppies to anyone who walks in off the street, sight unseen? Reputable breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes. Beware of all these red flags.

Adopt from a shelter or rescue instead! This is the simplest solution. Rescues and shelters most often have the best interest of the animal at heart, and many of them are last chance adoptions. Remember that dogs live in the present - your feeling sorry for the dog and showering him with affection right off the bat can cause behavioral problems later on. Adopt a dog compatible with your energy level and lifestyle.

The puppy mill situation saddens me deeply, as it’s been my lifelong dream to see humans and dogs living together in harmonious relationships. It is my hope that we can one day eliminate all puppy mills and find good homes for the millions of homeless pets that live in shelters right now.

CESAR MILLAN is a best-selling author and star of the hit TV show “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” airing on Nat Geo WILD in the U.S. and over 100 countries internationally. He is President of The Millan Foundation, a non-profit organization that is credited with re-homing and rehabilitating thousands of dogs across the world.

Learn more about Cesar and read his latest news and tips by visiting www.CesarsWay.com.