Today is Puppy Mill Awareness Day.
I posted once before about puppy mills, in Where do Puppies Come From? It's a message that bears repeating. Awareness is important because, literally, most people just don't know about what's going on. They don't know that Missouri is the puppy mill capital of America. They don't know that Amish puppy mills are responsible for supplying a large amount of pet stores with fluffy cute merchandise, from Pennsylvania and Ohio (and other places as well, I'm sure). They don't know that good breeders care about their puppies as they would their own offspring, and that a good breeder will be there for you throughout your dog's life, to help you, to give you advice, to take your dog back if, God forbid, you couldn't keep her anymore.
A movie came out on HBO recently, Madonna of the Mills (website here: http://madonnaofthemills.com/), following a woman who goes to puppy mills and does things like rescue the breeding females from certain death, when they can't breed any longer. Why would the mills allow filming? Well, puppy mills aren't illegal. There are laws about cruelty and the conditions in which animals can be kept, but even when complaints are made, it's hard to prove anything. And it's hard for legislators to be motivated on this issue. It's a hard thing, legally and morally, to say "Yes, you own those dogs, but though they are your property, you can't breed them until they can't anymore, and then take them out back and shoot them." You can't legislate how many litters a breeder can have a year. You can't legall quantify how much attention can be paid to a litter of puppies, to make sure they're appropriate stimulated and socialized, so that they'll live full and wonderful lives. You can't require that people health test and only breed remarkable specimens of the breed.
It's up to the consumer to make those choices about who they buy from. And the consumer isn't. The consumer is shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for "designer hybrids" that are actually mutts you can find at the shelter, if nothing else for far cheaper. The consumer doesn't know why show people are so stuck about papers and Championships and things, not thinking that Championships and competitions are a concrete way to say "yes, this is a good dog. Yes, this dog's genetics should be passed on."
Know your breeder, folks. Don't buy from pet stores. If you don't want to deal with a breeder and papers and things, go to the shelter. Go to a rescue. Heck, go to a breed rescue! There are a lot of dogs out there. One of them might be yours.