P Is for Puppy Mill

In partnership with our good friends at the SPCA of Wake County, these CritterKin Tips are good reminders that pet care is a family affair. Join us as Vanessa Budnick of the SPCA shares her insights and helpful tips for the pooch in your life.

Last week the SPCA of Wake County worked as first responders on a puppy mill bust organized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)*.

As someone who has been a first responder at a puppy mill and who adopted one of those dogs, I can tell you that it can be heart-wrenching and disturbing.
HSUS defines a puppy mill as follows**: A puppy mill is an inhumane, commercial dog-breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.

"Puppy mill" is really a misnomer. Unfortunately, whenever you put the word "puppy" in front of another word, it just softens the impact of the idea. Although puppies are victims, typically the animals that you find at a "puppy mill" are the parents that are used for reproduction and whose health and welfare are horribly neglected. Deprived of medical care and socialization, these dogs suffer from an array of health and behavioral issues.

Personally, I've seen blindness, deformities, dental disease that has rotted away jaw bones, severe infection that resulted in swollen bodies and gaping wounds… among other ailments. Fortunately, I've seen that puppy mill survivors can be rehabilitated and adjust to a loving home environment – like my dog Ernest. When Ernest was rescued, he was so ill he had to be rushed to a veterinary hospital. A year later, he still has health issues that will follow him through life, but instead of living in a cat carrier surrounded by other dogs, he lives in a loving home where he sleeps in the bed and gets the veterinary care and the socialization that he craves.

So, here's my tip for the day, when you get a pet, know where it is coming from. If you buy from a breeder, go to them, ask to see the parents, ask to see where the animals are kept, do not buy pets online or from pet stores. And, whenever possible, please adopt.

Some other "P" words that you can consider when thinking about being RESPONSIBLE for a pet: Protect, Prevention, Play, Positive Reinforcement

For more information about puppy mills, please visit HSUS's FAQ on puppy mills: The Humane Society FAQ

For more information about identifying responsible breeders, please visit: Humane Society Fact Sheet To identify an animal shelter/rescue in your area, please visit: Pet Finder

*Source *

About the Author: Vanessa Budnick

Vanessa Budnick has worked at the SPCA of Wake County since 2006 when she was hired to develop a Humane Education program for the shelter. Her involvement with the SPCA of Wake County began in 2004 as a volunteer and adopter. She credits her SPCA alumnae dog, Thomas, with changing the path of her life and leading her to animal welfare.

Vanessa graduated from Smith College in 1997 where she majored in geology and minored in English. During her time at Smith College, she worked for beloved children's book author and illustrator Eric Carle answering his fan mail. Her position with Eric Carle was kismet and fostered her love of children's literature and a deep appreciation for engaging children with art, language and science. Upon completion of her undergraduate education, Vanessa moved to New York City where she worked as an editorial assistant in children's book publishing and did a brief stint as an editor at NBC headquarters in the Corporate Communications department.

In 2000 Vanessa moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and decided to pursue a career in library science. In 2006, she received a master degree in library science from UNC Chapel Hill where she focused her studies on youth services. Her education in the liberal arts, science, and library programming for youths, combined with her work experience in children's book publishing and love of animals, led her to become a perfect fit as a Humane Educator in animal welfare.

Vanessa is thrilled to be working with the folks at CritterKin and bringing the messages of responsible pet care to a broader audience.

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