Putting the paws on puppy mills

The Humane Society of the United States reports that euthanasias of shelter animals has decreased from 12-20 million to 3-4 million in 2013.
Still, according to the Humane Society “[a]n estimated 2.7 million healthy shelter pets are not adopted each year, and only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters or rescues.”
With 6-8 million animals entering shelters each year there is no demand for animal breeding. Yet, animal mill owners remain in business.
Pet overpopulation continues due in part to approximately 10,000 puppy mills, which produce more than 2,400,000 puppies a year. Then there are the cat and rabbit mills to consider.
It is not only overpopulation that we should be worried about, but also the quality of life given to animals bred in mills.
Unfortunately, awareness of these issues isn’t where it should be.
The “hassle” of looking through a shelter for a new pet is done away with by a quick trip to the local pet store.
By purchasing pets from shops, oftentimes consumers unknowingly are supporting the puppy mill, kitten mill, or rabbit mill industry.
On the contrary, possible owners, especially those new to the shelter business, are often turned off by the conditions of the building. The loud barking of dogs in neighboring kennels is enough to encourage many to simply turn around and leave the unkempt Labrador they were peeking at.
If not the shelter conditions, often the realization of just how extensive the overpopulation problem is, is enough to turn away prospective families.
People see an animal’s nervousness or shyness as a personality trait when usually it’s the shelter’s environment that is to blame for that behavior.
Kept in quarters closer than ideal, shelter animals often exhibit signs of stress and anxiety.
Foster parents of shelter animals would vouch that most animals calm down upon being temporarily cared for at a home, and as an owner of shelter dogs and cats myself, I can confirm this is true.
It’s important to remember that even if shelters aren’t happy places, they are responsible for creating happy people and animals upon adoption.
I don’t want to shame those who have gone to a breeder to bring home their furry, four-legged friends, I only mean to encourage those currently looking to adopt to consider browsing their local shelters.
The love that you receive from a shelter dog is no different than that you would find in a pure-breed Maltese brought in from out-of-state.
The process of finding a new pet through a shelter will be different, maybe even less pleasant than if you went to a pet store, but the result will be the same. A happy pet in a new home.