While large cities like Los Angeles and Chicago have made major strides by banning pet stores from selling animals bred at commercial breeding facilities, also known as “puppy mills,” many Americans remain unaware of the problem.
A survey released last year by Best Friends Animal Society revealed that more than two in five Americans (43 percent) still don’t know that virtually all pet stores obtain their dogs from puppy mills, which tend to operate with an emphasis on profits, rather than animal welfare. This lack of awareness could be why nearly one in five (17 percent) still choose to purchase a dog at a local pet store, rather than adopt from a shelter or rescue organization.
Best Friends launched a public service announcement that illustrates how pet stores perpetuate the cruelty of puppy mills. An estimated 10,000 puppy mills exist in the United States, where approximately 167,000 adult dogs are kept exclusively for breeding purposes. These dogs spend their lives in cages and rarely getting physical exercise, mental stimulation or human attention. They go onto produce more than two million puppies each year.
By choosing to adopt from shelters rather than buy from pet shops, Americans can take a stand against puppy mills and help bring those numbers down to zero. “For every commercially bred puppy purchased in a store, another shelter pet waits to find his or her family,” said Elizabeth Oreck, the national manager of puppy mills initiatives at Best Friends. “If Americans want to break the puppy mill cycle and save lives, they need to stop buying puppies from pet stores and start adopting from shelters and rescue groups.”
The Best Friends survey also revealed that just three in five (61 percent) young adults ages 18-34 had heard of a puppy mill, compared to 75 percent of Americans overall. Similarly, young adults are less likely than Americans overall to associate puppy mills with animal cruelty. This may be why young adults are more likely than others to say they would purchase a pet over adopt.