About 2,000 to 3,000 puppies and kittens are born every hour, and according to an estimation by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, only one out of every ten shelter animals will find a permanent home.
Animal homelessness is an ongoing epidemic, resulting in millions of feral cats and stray dogs. Unadopted animals will either die from euthanasia in a shelter or die on the street due to neglect. Animal homelessness is a very real problem that costs millions of cats and dogs their lives.
The best solution to help animal homelessness? Adopt. Don’t shop. When shopping at local pet stores, you can’t be entirely sure where these stores get their puppies. If you cannot verify their source, you run the risk of supporting puppy mills and inhumane breeder malpractice.
Puppy and kitten mills
In puppy mills, dogs are continually bred for profit. The animals are normally kept in dark rooms and only taken out when it is time for them to reproduce. The female dogs give birth and then nurse until the puppies are just on the cusp of being able to eat solid foods.
Taking puppies away from their mothers too early can cause major physical and social developmental problems for the puppy that last into adulthood.
Once the puppies are taken away, the female dog is impregnated again in a cycle that only ends with her euthanasia when she inevitably becomes infertile.
Due to the profit-driven nature of puppy mills, the animals are kept in unsanitary facilities and cages. Cages are small and stacked on top of one another. Animal waste is rarely cleaned. This results in dirtied food and water, mats in the dogs’ fur, fleas, ticks, diseases and infections. Buying from a pet store that sells puppies from puppy mills condones this treatment—even if the purchase is uninformed of the puppies’ origins.
Also buying an animal online from a breeder most definitely risks the possibility of buying from a puppy or kitten mill, which is why going to a shelter is the best option.
I’d like to discuss a specific case with online breeders. Felicity was a Bengal cat, highly sought after, kept by a backyard breeder as part of a kitten mill. She was kept in a cage and used to churn out as many kittens as possible. Once she had a litter, she was impregnated again to the point that her last litter only had two kittens. All her kittens are sold online for large amounts of money.
TinyKittens, a nonprofit organization located in Fort Langley, Canada, saved her. TinyKittens is run by foster families and veterinarians who use the method of trap-neuter-return—since most feral cats cannot be domesticated.
When Felicity’s owner surrendered her, she was infested with fleas, ticks, ear mites, tapeworms, and suffering from an upper respiratory and urinary tract infection—all the while being pregnant. When buying kittens—or any animal—from online from breeders, you are potentially promoting this behavior. You are promoting the treatment of Felicity and saying it’s okay for animal mothers to be treated in this way for the sake of purebred kittens.
Yes, not all breeders treat their animals inhumanely, but I do not condone breeding at all. There are far too many homeless animals as there is to continually breed to make more purebreds for people. Plus, breeding animals for profit just sounds bad, and IS BAD, no matter how you treat the animals. Put yourself in the animal’s position and tell me you still think breeding is okay.
Laws for paws
Some laws are put in place to help protect animals. However, mills can go undetected or find loopholes within these laws that allow them to continue malpractices and animal exploitation. The Animal Welfare Act passed in 1966 to protect and regulate the treatment of animals, but we still discover and fight malpractice today—more than 50 years later.
To confront breeder malpractice, Portland took matters into its own hands. Last year, the Portland City Council passed an ordinance that forbids pet shops and other markets buying and selling animals that were processed through puppy and kitten mills. This ordinance protects animals from exploitation and abuse and protects potential pet owners from unknowingly supporting puppy and kitten mills.
Help a hound
Portland, luckily, is home to many nonprofits for our animal friends. The Pixie Project is a perfect example of a well-established animal adoption center. This center takes in the overload of animals from the local shelters so that those animals don’t have to be euthanized. It’s a very respected organization and takes the pairing of a human and animal together very seriously.
If you are interested in adopting from this organization, you simply tell the staff the kind of animal you are looking for, and they pair you up with your furry friend based on personality preference. The process can take a while since the Pixie Project wants to make the most perfect duo.
Another place to adopt in Portland is from the Oregon Humane Society. Places such as the Oregon Humane Society and the Pixie Project take adoption seriously so that pet abandonment is less likely to happen.
Another fantastic way to help homeless pets is to foster an animal. Fostering means taking long-term pets from the shelter and bringing them home with you until they are adopted. Many shelters offer this service, as they tend to become overcrowded. Fostering allows the animals to live in a happy home and socialize with people until their forever family finds them.
I believe more people should care about this matter because almost everyone has a furry companion that they love and consider a part of the family. A shelter is a great alternative to pet stores and breeders.
These animals need homes, as some shelters put down long-term animals within the shelter. When you adopt an animal from a shelter, you are saving that little furry creature’s life and giving a once-discarded animal a fur-ever home.
Editor’s note: If you suspect breeding malpractice, please contact your local humane society, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-877-MILL-TIP.