Tag Archives: puppy mills

Puppy Mills, CAPS and the Domino Effect

puppy millsPuppy mills and pet shops are locked in a loop of perpetual cruelty and abuse of animals unlucky enough to be cycled through their doors. An ASPCA study showed that 78% of the general public is unaware of the connection between pet shops and puppy mills, and 80% of adults would not buy a dog that came from a puppy mill.

To help get the word out, Deborah Howard, Founder and President of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), sat down with me (virtually) to talk about her organization.  After 22 years of working this problem, they have the results to prove it is possible, with concerted effort on all fronts, to work with pet shops to convert to humane or tell them to “go home.” 300 nationwide Docktor Pet Centers went down like dominoes over a period of three years in the early 90s thanks to CAPS, says Howard. She is quick to note she’s not here to put pet businesses out of business, but works to close the too-long chapter of animal cruelty pet shops are complicit in.

You may recall CAPS provided the video evidence that got abuse and cruelty charges to stick on the infamous Kathy Bauck formerly of Pick of the Litter, one of the largest USDA licensed dog brokerage and breeding facilities in the country. Now they are working on closing loopholes that allowed this convicted felon to keep 6 dogs and game the system.

I think you’ll find this mix of history and present day work being done in this field useful, and maybe to some, enlightening.  I’ll be back with more of this later in the year – it was a long conversation;)

[Note: If you bought a sick pet from Happiness is Pets and incurred vet bills, there’s a class action suit you can join by filling out the complaint form in the investigations tab of CAPS website.]


Petland Adopts? Franchisees Show How to Lead from the Bottom Up

Petland adopts

image by Fran Simo via Flickr

Petland adopts out shelter and rescue dogs and cats, not due to a new policy announcement from HQ, but because of leadership coming from individual franchisees.  Many animal advocates think of Petland as one entity ruled from the top.  It is easier to point a finger at one place than to realize how tough it will be to reach out to approximately 150 small businesses.  Yet there is a point to…ah, pointing.  With Petland Canada in the news announcing a phasing out of selling pets, pet lovers have wondered at the silence from Petland USA. In that silence we looked around to find that some individual franchisees have taken the lead in changing their business model.

Change, significant, sustainable change, is never as easy as we picture it in our minds. To ask a collective of businesses to change the way they have done business and expect they will do that in the way you want them to, all at once and right now, or in three months, will not lead to success. We animal lovers of every stripe have to guard against making the perfect the enemy of the good.  As much criticism as can be fairly leveled at Petland HQ,  the shelter and rescue community is not without its own failings.  What follows is an example of failure on the part of those who are in charge of animals’ lives, and failure to assist a member of their own community.

Petland Adopts, Will Shelters Cooperate?

What would you think if your local shelter were asked by a local Petland store to partner with them, taking a donation in exchange for the adoptables who were on death row, or unwanted litters that may prove too expensive or too much of a strain on employee time for shelters to support, and they refused?  And compound that wasted opportunity, and wasted lives, by continuing to refuse even after almost a  year of successful adoptions and a growing demand from Petland customers for shelter and rescue pets. That is not the whole story, and  I will leave the rest to the podcast.

We can’t do much if we don’t talk to those who may not hold the same opinions.

It’s a busy month for animal advocates: Puppy mills have been targeted by the ASPCA, and in the blogosphere, and HSUS is making a plea for legislation to close loopholes for internet pet sales on the White House website. There’s a petition to sign asking Petland USA to fire puppy mills and change their policy (because leadership matters).

In our defense of the animals we love, we don’t want to make the mistake of letting opportunity slip by with deadly consequences for those we  have sworn to protect.  No two Petlands are alike.  Get to know your local store owners, you might be pleasantly surprised, or not. There’s probably another one not too far away. Talking can help ignite the change we all hope for, or you might even be part of a Petland adopts story as it’s happening.  Do you have a Petland with a good adoption program in your area? If you want to start one, listen to the podcast to find out how to get help.