Significant milestone for national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign
comes days after USDA’s proposal for more federal oversight of puppy mills
NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced that more than 100,000 consumers have taken its “No Pet Store Puppies” pledge to help fight puppy mill cruelty by refusing to shop at pet stores and on websites that sell puppies. The national campaign, launched last July, raises awareness about the connection between pet stores and puppy mills and aims to reduce the demand for puppy mill puppies by urging consumers not to buy any items—including food, supplies or toys—if the store or website sells dogs.
The ASPCA’s “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign reached the 100,000 mark just four days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed a new rule calling for greater federal oversight of puppy mills and online dog sales. The rule would, for the first time, require large-scale commercial breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public, sight-unseen, including through websites, to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. The ASPCA will work to ensure that the rule is implemented as effectively as possible to improve conditions at sub-standard breeding facilities.
“The success of our “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign and this significant milestone send a clear message that the public does not support the inhumane breeding of dogs,” said Laurie Beacham, senior director of ASPCA Strategy & Campaigns. “Consumer action is a critical element in the fight against puppy mills, and convincing consumers not to shop for anything at stores and on websites that sell puppies is a powerful tool in stopping the demand for puppy mill dogs.”
In less than a year, the “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign has succeeded in eliminating a large platform for puppy mill dogs sold online. In response to concerns from the ASPCA, Facebook and Oodle, the company that powers Marketplace on Facebook, have instituted measures to restrict online classifieds listing puppy mill dogs for sale from the site. Through an ongoing removal process starting in March, tens of thousands of dog sale ads have already been eliminated.
Further, as part of a major public education campaign, outdoor billboards were posted in Los Angeles, Columbus, (Ohio), and other cities across the nation to raise awareness about the connection between pet stores and puppy mills and encourage shoppers to give a new life to a homeless dog or cat by adopting from their local animal shelter or rescue organization. Targeted ads were also placed online to provide a captivating and simple call to action.
“Our campaign is working because we are educating consumers and inspiring them to take action to be part of the solution and reduce the demand for puppy mill puppies,” said Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign. “We continue to urge those who are looking for a new companion to adopt a dog from a rescue group or shelter or seek a responsible breeder so that the puppy mill industry becomes unsustainable.”
The ASPCA continues to encourage animal lovers and advocates to take the pledge and share the new "I pledged" badge on their social networks. Additionally, NoPetStorePuppies.com hosts a series of videos featuring a canine mascot as he skillfully “trains” oblivious consumers not to shop at pet stores that sell puppies. The humorous videos can be shared via social media platforms to engage consumers and help spread the message about puppy mill cruelty.
Operators of puppy mills breed dogs in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Consumers who purchase a puppy from a pet store or website run the risk of taking home an unhealthy puppy in addition to the likelihood of unknowingly supporting a cruel industry. The ASPCA ultimately seeks to convince pet stores to limit their business to pet supplies and encourages them to partner with their local shelters to offer adoptable pets in their stores.
To learn more about the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies campaign, please visit www.NoPetStorePuppies.com.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. More than one million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.
To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/aspca. To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/aspca.
with Assistance from IFAW & PetSmart Charities
ASPCA manages forensic evidence collection & removal of animals
to support Garland County Sheriff’s Office animal cruelty investigation in Hot Springs, Ark.
NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), at the request of the Garland County Sheriff’s Office, is managing the evidence collection and sheltering of more than 100 dogs living in a substandard commercial breeding facility—commonly known as a puppy mill—in Hot Springs, Ark., approximately 55 miles southwest of Little Rock. The operation is being supported by responders from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), PetSmart Charities, Inc. and Garland County Humane Society.
A search warrant was executed Monday morning for the removal of the dogs, and the animals are being transported to a nearby emergency shelter where they will receive medical care and treatment. The ASPCA is also collecting evidence for the investigation as well as lending the services of its veterinary forensics teams, led by Dr. Rhonda Windham, medical director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. The owner of the puppy mill facility, Pam Thomas, has been arrested and charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty.
“The ASPCA has been invaluable in the coordination, investigation, processing and forensic evidence collection of the endangered and mistreated animals,” said Lieutenant James Martin of the Garland County Sheriff’s Office. “The successful completion of this operation would not have taken place without their experience, resources and expertise, as the magnitude of this operation is beyond the capabilities of Garland County resources.”
“The ASPCA is pleased to be in a position to lend our assistance and help the Garland County Sheriff’s Office put an end to abusive puppy mills in their community,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of Investigations for the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “Puppy mill dogs suffer from living in extremely unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization, and we appreciate the efforts of the local authorities in pursuing this investigation. Our goal is to help the local authorities by providing experts and resources to support the case, and see that these animals move on to a better place.”
Garland County Sheriff’s Investigator, Cpl. Angela Graybeal, began a criminal investigation in 2009 after allegations of health issues and charges had been brought against Ms. Thomas, owner of the Happy Times Kennel at 210 Barbershop Drive, also known as Rainbow Kennel and Spa City Pets, for violation of the Rabies Control Act.
During the two year investigation, Investigator Graybeal received numerous complaints regarding the living conditions, medical issues and mistreatment of more than 100 animals housed on the property. The Garland County Sheriff’s Office was able to determine that Thomas was operating a puppy mill through undercover visits and purchases, with support from the Garland County Humane Society, which connected investigators with the ASPCA for assistance.
The dogs—mainly small breeds such as Chihuahuas, West Highland white terriers, Boston terriers and dachshunds—were discovered living in feces-encrusted pens and deplorable conditions on the property. Many of the dogs exhibited various signs of neglect and appear to have severe skin problems and flea infestation, among other medical conditions.
The ASPCA is assessing and treating each animal by utilizing its fully equipped Northeast “Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit,” a specially-designed vehicle outfitted with state-of-the-art forensics tools and medical equipment tailored for animal patients. Additionally, the ASPCA’s custom-built animal transport trailer is also being utilized to help transfer animals to the emergency shelter.
More than 30 responders are on the scene, including staff and volunteers from IFAW, which is providing sheltering services and assisting with evidence collection; PetSmart Charities, which is providing much-needed supplies and helping set up the emergency shelter; and volunteers from the Garland County Humane Society, who will be assisting with the daily care of the animals housed at the temporary shelter.
“Upon learning of the deplorable conditions these animals were subjected to, IFAW took immediate action to help protect them from further suffering,” said Shannon Walajtys, IFAW Emergency Relief officer. “IFAW works around the world to ensure that dogs live in healthy conditions and we are dismayed to encounter, yet again, such appalling conditions here in the U.S.”
“Our Emergency Relief Waggin’ program offers assistance to animal victims, like these dogs, who need immediate care and attention,” added Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities. “Some of these dogs will experience, for the first time, what it’s like to be well fed, clean and comfortable. Our hope is that the pets rescued from cruelty cases, low-quality breeders and hoarders can be rehabilitated and placed into the caring homes they deserve.”
Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response added, “With the support and collaboration of these agencies, the ASPCA is able to continue its life-saving work in the field. We truly appreciate our partnership with these national animal welfare groups to rescue animals like these from inhumane conditions.”
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team has rescued countless dogs from puppy mills across the nation and aided in the prosecution of their owners. Furthermore, the ASPCA’s Government Relations department has been active in drafting and promoting legislation that would strengthen regulations and raise minimum standards of care for dogs in puppy mills, most recently in Texas and Pennsylvania. Additionally, the ASPCA launched a national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores.
For more information about puppy mills and how to fight animal cruelty, visit www.nopetstorepuppies.com.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org. To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/aspca. To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/aspca.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.