Today’s Tuesday, which is always a little bit of a relief; it means that I survived yet another Monday with body and soul and sanity more or less intact. Some weeks, that comes as a surprise.
However, this particular Tuesday means something more for how we treat dogs—or at least, it could. The ASPCA has designated today as National No Pet Store Puppies Day. The purpose is not only to educate people about the problems of puppy mills and to encourage them to get their dogs from shelters and rescue groups, but to ask them to take action by pledging not to buy anything—food, grooming products, toys—from stores that sell puppies.
Hopefully, our readers are already aware of the problems of puppy mills and the pet stores where they wind up. We write regularly on the issue because unfortunately, a lot of really bad examples constantly crop up in the news. But even when we read the sensational horror stories, it’s hard to build an emotional connection between those and the adorable pups seen scrambling around in the pet store window. If you’re like me, you probably have warm childhood memories of pressing up against the glass of such windows, your heart melting at the cute puppies and really, really wanting for your parents to let you take one home.
I know that I’m not the only one with those kinds of memories. They’ve been enshrined in pop culture through such things as Patti Page’s 1952 standard, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” Even if you’ve never heard Page’s song, you probably know the title and identify in some way with the sentiment behind it.
But those sweet, rose-colored memories, like so much of consumer culture, come at a price. The price is the dirty, cramped cages of the puppy mills. As the ASPCA says in its press release:
Dogs in these facilities are typically housed in tiny, overcrowded cages in unsanitary conditions, without proper veterinary care of adequate access to food and water—and many live out their entire lives without ever experiencing human affection. Female breeding dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no time between litters for their bodies to recover, in order to produce as many puppies as possible and generate more profit for the mills.
What’s more, their offspring may suffer from behavior, congenital, and hereditary problems as a result of irresponsible breeding practices. Puppies are typically sold to pet shops as young as eight weeks of age. Since most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, this cruelty is perpetuated every time a puppy is purchased from a pet store.
Furthermore, for every puppy bought out of a pet store window, another is left to languish in a shelter or foster home, most of which are already filled to capacity.
The No Pet Store Puppies website is a great resource for information on state laws regarding puppy mills and dog sales, as well as the problem of breeding in general. Hopefully the ASPCA will have good luck in using this day to raise awareness.
In case all of this is just too bleak and depressing, and I’ve totally ruined your childhood memories, here’s a video of a cute little girl named Molly with a cute dog named Joey, to make the same points. Except they do it more adorably.