Puppy Mills Harm People Who Hate Dogs – Blog the Change 4 Animals

“Why protect animals when people are hungry or suffering?”

“It’s a free country. People have the right to make money however they want.”

“What do I care if people are selling defective puppies? I don’t even want a dog.”

If every informed animal lover in the country advocated and voted to ban puppy mills, it still wouldn’t happen. Why? Because we need the votes of people who don’t consider themselves animal lovers to join us.

And how likely is that to happen?

Very likely. If we can show that measures that protect animals are also good for people.

These dogs were seized from a puppy mill and are on their way to a better life.

Dogs seized from a puppy mill on their way to a better life.


Puppy Mills Harm People (even if they don’t want a dog)

Twenty states have passed pet “lemon laws” to protect consumers who buy pet store dogs who turn out to be ill (15 of those states also protect people buying kittens). The St. Louis Better Business Bureau has received so many complaints about dogs from commercial breeding facilities that they issued a report calling for stiffer penalties, more regulations, and greater adoption of rescue animals. Yes, the Better Business Bureau is calling for more government regulation and shelter adoptions.

Lemon laws don’t protect animals. They protect human consumers.

And that’s the key to change.

What are the ways puppy mills harm people? Even if they never buy a dog?

Puppy Mills Suppress the Tax Base of a Community

No, not all tax assessments are created equal.

When tax assessors in most states figure out the value of a property to know what the owner will pay in property tax, they look at the market rate.

However, agricultural land is treated differently. Instead of looking at the “highest and best use” for the land, assessors look at the value of its current use. Accordingly, farm land is assessed at a lower rate than commercial or residential properties.

These cows are on a Lancaster county dairy farm.

What most of us probably think of when we hear the word “farm.”

I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Especially since most farms produce necessities—like food. And food production has a very low profit margin for farmers.

But that means that residents of states with lots of puppy mills are subsidizing the production of a high-profit luxury item when they have to make up for the loss of tax dollars from the commercial breeding facility.

I wonder if Steve King’s  (who represents major puppy mill state Iowa in the House of Representatives and routinely blocks animal protection legislation – click link for petition) constituents would be happy if they knew they were paying more in property taxes so people in other states could have puppies?

Puppy Mills Stress Food Safety Resources

Who inspects puppy mills to be sure commercial breeders are following the laws? The USDA.

Who inspects food production facilities and farms to make sure we’re not eating contaminated produce, milk, and meat? The USDA.

Who continues to receive less funding? The USDA.

I’m not saying puppy mills are receiving so many USDA inspections that

  1. conditions are good for the animals in them, or
  2. that hundreds of inspectors are being taken away from inspecting food productions.

However, if puppy mills didn’t exist (and there’s no reason they should), the USDA could allocate their limited resources to helping to keep the U.S food supply safe for everyone.

I wonder if anyone made sick by the last e. Coli infection in their bagged lettuce would be thrilled to hear that USDA inspectors who could be inspecting their food are inspecting farms producing designer dogs for spoiled girls to carry in their purses until they tire of them?

Puppy Mills are a “Blight” Business

Cute cafes with outdoor seating draw tourists, shoppers, and other attractive businesses. Like attracts like.

No one wants to build an attractive neighborhood, an independent dairy , or artisanal cheese business next to a property defined by loud barking at all hours and bad smells.

I’m not a snob.

I know that yuppie businesses are only one piece of a successful economy. We need business that produce power, empty septic systems, and handle waste.

But we don’t need puppy mills. And counties and states that allow large commercial dog breeding facilities to operate are not managing their economy well to benefit their citizens. They’ve given up and taken the easy way. And by allowing puppy mills, they’re likely increasing their costs and harming their local economy.

Puppy Mills Stress Animal Control

Animal control departments exist to protect human health.

Stray dogs carry disease and pose a bite risk. So counties and states set up agencies to round up stray dogs and contain them.

What happens when someone with poor impulse control buys a cute puppy who turns out to be impossible to house train and unsociable? Or if the person is just too busy for the responsibilities of a perfectly nice little dog?

They turn that puppy over to their local shelter or animal control facility and tell themselves someone will probably adopt it.

California shelters have been overwhelmed with Chihuahuas. Shelters that are run by Animal Control use their limited resources not protecting human health, but processing and in many cases, killing, the puppy mill dogs that flood their facilities.

Animal Control departments cost tax payers $2 billion each year. 

Minnesota tax protest rally wants lower taxes.

Do you think these tax protesters would be happy to know how much of their tax dollars were going to clean up messes caused by puppy mills?

Wow! That’s a lot of bridges that could be repaired, children educated, or pollution cleaned up. And it’s a huge bill for American taxpayers to deal with a problem for which puppy mills are a significant cause.

Puppy Mills Harm People – Talking Points

When you talk to an animal lover, maybe someone standing outside a pet store making googly eyes at a puppy, share what you know about the cruel conditions of puppy mill.

But when you’re talking to people who don’t care about protecting animals, remember these talking points:

  • Puppies are a high-profit, luxury good produced on land whose owners pay less in taxes than they would if they had another business.
  • The USDA puts limited resources to inspecting breeding facilities when they could be using those resources to keep our food safe.
  • Puppy mills are blight businesses that make other businesses less likely to locate nearby.
  • Unwanted puppy mill dogs cost taxpayers billions in taxes used to support local Animal Control agencies.

If we want to change conditions for all animals, we need to make the case that what’s good for the dog (and cat and ferret etc.) is good for everyone.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my January post for Blog the Change (Want to Protect Animals? Care for People.). If you’re looking for something to write about, you’ll find inspiration in the comments challenging me to figure out what’s bad for humans about several animal welfare tragedies.

Blog the ChangeYour Turn: If you believe that what’s good for animals is also good for people, would you please share this post? It’s easy if you use the share buttons on top of the comments section. Thank you.
photo credits: (Dogs seized from puppy mill)Life Lenses via photopin cc. (Lancaster dairy farm)Tony Fischer Photography via photopin cc. (Tax protesters) Fibonacci Blue via photopin cc. Click on the images to learn more about the photographers.

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  1. Great post – such great points. I hope this is read by tons of folks!

  2. Don’t buy puppies from the Amish, either – they are a “cash crop.”

    In MO, the scourge of puppies mills is also falling on “good” shelters, who need to pay the state for each dog/cat adopted, thanks to amendments to an HSUS sponsored and then amended bill. Inspectors are by the book, which is good and bad.

    Multiple states are now banning the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores – but we need to keep the push on.

    AGREED – there is NO reason nor place for puppy mills, just like there is no reason nor place for factory farms, which do NOT look like the idyllic photo above :(.

    Excellent and needed post – thank you!

  3. No place for puppy mills…wish they would rid of them over here too. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Sue @ The Golden Life says:

    Great post, Pamela!! You make many valid points! Unfortunately, I have found over the years that non animal lovers tend to pretend to listen but hold firm to their misinformed beliefs and dismiss the realities. Just like so many other “issues”. BUT I will still try anyway. I will share your post today…maybe it will help to wake up one of the many.

  5. brilliant!!

  6. OMG – amazing post!!! Wish we could get some of the news casts currently moaning about cats killing birds to pay attention to this!! Great job….

  7. Our local pet shops are having many days when shelter animals are brought in for adoption. It is a win win for everyone. The dogs get to sell themselves, people get to get chosen by their dogs. The store doesn’t have the puppy messes to deal with and get a lot of goodwill from the public.

    • Sue @ The Golden Life says:

      Our local shelter has “adoption days” at Petco and PetSmart, too, on a fairly regular basis. It’s a great way to get the animals adopted, the store only minimally involved, and it still brings business into the store for food, treats, and supplies. Like you said — a win-win situation for ALL!

  8. This is a great post Pamela and I’ve shared it everywhere today…You’ve brought out some unique points that I hope will make people think

  9. Great post Pamela. For better or for worse, I do think that making people realize how something impacts their own comfort, happiness, and economic bottom line is key to successful activism.

  10. This is an excellent post. Thank you, especially, for the talking points. It’s so hard to believe that there are pet stores that even sell puppies and kittens anymore.

  11. This is fabulous and great information to share with people who aren’t ‘dog’ people!

  12. Great post Pamela (BTW your link on the BtC4A linky) doesn’t work…
    These are great points to keep handy for those types of conversations with folks who aren’t crazy dog lovers like myself.

  13. Five stars! I’ve never seen the puppy mill issue from this angle before, but it makes perfect sense.

  14. This is a side to the issue that I never thought of….great, great job Pamela. So interesting and informative. I am sharing everywhere I can.

  15. Well done, Pamela. The bullet points at the end should be printed and kept in every one of our wallets so we can remind ourselves when talking to folks who aren’t in the choir.

  16. Just another thought, from having busted several of these places…most of these dogs have parasites. That transfer to humans. That are in the soil around the place and the runoff…contaminating our water supply. It should be safe and treated, but it’s still not a risk I would want to take.

    Thanks for the great article!

  17. Such great points, Pamela. History has proven that when people, animal lovers or not, understand that their money and resources are being wasted and their environment contaminated by an issue that they throught was only about animals, change does happen. So I guess the moral is, don’t give up.

  18. Excellent post! Great talking points. Personally, I especially like the one about the USDA (whose budget grows smaller each year) spends time inspecting puppy mills instead of making sure our food is safe. Though, I have to say, here in MO even that argument probably would not fly.

  19. This is a really well thought out post Pamela (although, that could be said for your posts in general). You know, I can’t remember the last time I even thought of even discussing the issue of puppy mills to non-dog lovers. But now I’ll have this post in mind the next time the opportunity arises. :-)

  20. Fantastic post, Pamela. I love the perspective you bring to this issue – it’s so easy for us to preach to the choir, but illustrating why puppy mills are bad for everyone (even those who don’t like animals) is an innovative and thoughtful approach. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in October!

    Team BtC4A

  21. Your posts are always incredibly smart and insightful, but you’ve really outdone yourself this time.
    You’ve brought up so many great points and cornered the issue from so many different angles that it would be hard for anyone to read this post and be able to walk away still in defense of puppy mills.
    As dog lovers, we all hate puppy mills because they are dungeons of cruelty for our most beloved creatures. For people who don’t really care about dogs, they need other reasons to be against puppy mills; and you’ve outlined valid and oft-overlooked points for them to ponder.
    From one Pam to another, huge kudos on this post. Will definitely be sharing! (Although honestly, I try to share all your stuff.)