Puppy mill operators subject dogs to horrendous conditions before tidying them up to sell them to pet stores or showcase them on the internet. You’ve probably seen plenty of those graphic, disgusting images; I’m never going to show them here.  The avoidance of suffering porn — as I think of it —  is also the approach the ASPCA has taken in this video that is trying to steer people away from buying anything at stores that sell puppies.

Part of the No Pet Store Puppies campaign, this video is a bit peculiar, and I don’t know if it’s effective, but it’s definitely not graphic or upsetting. What do you think?

More on puppy mills

There’s been a whole lot of ranting going on about puppy mills as a result of the recent showing of the Madonna of the Mills documentary on HBO — which is a good thing. The topic inspired me to write about drunken puppy buying last week. And then I read about a recent New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik. The author talks about buying a dog for his ten year old daughter and says:

Shrewd enough to know that she would never get us out of the city to an approved breeder, she quietly decided that she could live with a Manhattan pet-store “puppy mill” dog if she could check its eyes for signs of illness and its temperament for symptoms of sweetness. Finally, she backed us into a nice pet store on Lexington Avenue and showed us a tiny bundle of caramel-colored fur with a comical black mask. “That’s my dog,” she said simply.

For the rest of the article, see http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/08/110808fa_fact_gopnik#ixzz1WqomeHhD

I’ve since discovered that several people have blogged about the topic, including Carol Bradley, who wrote about puppy mills in the book Saving Gracie. She writes on her blog:

Let’s get this straight: Gopnik’s 10-year-old daughter did her homework, but Mom and Dad couldn’t be bothered. They’d rather shell out hundreds of dollars for a product of substandard breeding than track down a reputable breeder or, even better, choose a dog from the local shelter. In so doing, they’ve helped perpetuate the awful cycle that will doom that puppy’s mother to life in a cage, churning out litter after litter for profit’s sake.

I’m shocked and appalled. If a writer of Gopnik’s stature can be fooled, we have lots more work to do.

I’m shocked and appalled, too. And my original source of information about the article, Tracie Hotchner, devoted a good part of her public radio show, Dog Talk, to the topic. No one rants like Tracie — and I mean that in a good way. Listen to her here:

Tracie Hotchner on Adam Gopnik

15 thoughts on “Animal Welfare Videos That Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself: Puppy Mill Edition”

  1. I used to be a huge fan of Gopnick’s writing in the New Yorker. When I read this piece, it took me awhile to finish, as I stopped at the very paragraph you mention. I was shocked and disappointed–even though he admitted that he didn’t know much about dogs, he’s a reporter, after all, who does research. The rest of his article was most likely decent, and he interviewed some great dog people, but my view of him was already colored by that little puppy mill paragraph. I am disgruntled, as I always look forward to his articles–now, not so much. Interesting how this one thing changes my whole perspective of him. I’ll take a listen to Tracie! Thanks for posting.

    1. Yeah, when a New York Times writer noted in a series last year that he got his puppy from a breeder rather than a shelter, pro-rescue people piled on in the comments and I thought that was unfair. Getting a dog from a good breeder is a legitimate choice. But there’s no excuse for this, and especially the laziness that it implies — you can’t take the time to find a new family member who was not abused and who is likely to be unhealthy, in spite of looking into his eyes?? Tracie makes the point on her show: Unless you were ready to take on a special needs baby, you wouldn’t go to an orphanage where children were being brought up in awful conditions. Why would you do that with a pet?!

  2. There was much I liked about the New Yorker piece, but I was appalled that Gopnick blithely told the story of buying a puppy from a pet store without an ounce of self reflection on his glaring laziness not to mention the very real consequences of supporting the puppy mill industry. Having bought the puppy from a pet store, Gopnick could have written about his subsequent horror–if he had any–at what he did and advise his readers to check out a breed rescue if they have their heart set on a particular breed as did his daughter, or, yes, a responsible breeder.

    1. Welcome back, Deborah! I’m looking forward to reading about your Karen Pryor training experience (and how you otherwise spent your summer “vacation” 😉

      My tolerance for the self-satisfied New Yorker tone — which ebbs and flows — completely deserted me after that paragraph. I started reading the rest of the piece but couldn’t, ultimately, get past it.

  3. I personally didn’t get the video. I saw it back when I did my puppy mill rant (I figure I’m entitled). I thought it was ineffective and just didn’t get it. Bizarro.
    I did see Madonna of the Mills and was somewhat disappointed because I don’t think it did enough to focus on how Lora helped rescue and rehab the dogs, but the messages were all there. Maybe not as effective as I would have liked.
    In regards to the New Yorker write (never heard of the guy before), I could say I am appalled (I am), but not shocked. If anyone thinks that his lazy approach to the whole “buying a puppy from a pet store ” story is news then they haven’t met their average consumer. He’s pretty typical.
    But, maybe I will go listen to Tracie Hotchner’s rant just to make myself feel better.
    Thanks for writing about this topic Edie.

    1. I didn’t see Madonna of the Mills, and I’m sorry to hear it wasn’t as effective as it might have been. The thing that’s so frustrating about the New Yorker piece is that the writer dissects every aspect of dog ownership — except for the way it’s initiated in his family. I expect more from intellectual — even political — publications like the New Yorker. I guess it’s good that I’m still capable of hoping!

      In the meantime, all we can do is continue the conversation and try to call attention to the issues — as you were the first to do (at least on my radar)!

  4. Pingback: A Puppy Mill Rescue, Parvovirus and a Sad Decision
  5. Hi Edie LOL I would have to say that video cracked me up but then I always did have a wierd sense of humor. And yes, I think in a strange way, it does get the message across. I can watch these videos! I just can`t do the graphic horror vids, call me weak as water, if you will. So is this more effective? I don`t know but it is worth a try! Will share on my FB pages. And I so agree that Gopnick missed a great opportunity to write and educate about an important cause, really missed the boat by not educating his daughter and writing about it.

    1. Hi Leslie, nice to see you here and thanks for sharing the video on Facebook. I can’t watch the horrible ones either, so I’m glad there’s an alternative; I just wasn’t sure if this one gets the point across — but you say it does, so good!

  6. I can’t find the right words to describe someone who would admit publicly without an ounce of shame that he bought a dog he knew came from a puppy mill. Not quite sure, though, why the little girl, who was educated enough to know about puppy mills, didn’t think of the SPCA. When I was her age, I used to visit the cats at the SPCA because I wasn’t allowed to own one. But I will forgive her because she’s TEN and not an adult!

    The video is just weird. Not sure how effective it is. I get the point, but it makes dogs seem… vengeful.

  7. The ASPC’s campaign may not be as graphic or disturbing as the “other” groups’ methods, but it seems none of them are working and you even solidify this by pointing out a prolific writer buying a pet store puppy for his daughter under the guise of being hoodwinked by her cuteness instead of telling the real reason: HE JUST DIDN’T CARE!

    In USA Today recently, it was noted after all the all the noise produced about puppy mills and pet stores, no one actually listens! 78% of folks did not know where these dogs came from nor did they know, with any substance, what a puppy mill actually was.

    Bottom line, legislative action with VOTERS standing behind their convictions is the answer! NYS has the second largest number of pet stores selling puppies in the US. Florida is number one. Missouri was NOT the place for a law to clean up the mills. The places are the states with consumers that can afford and buy these prisoners of greed. NY, CA, FL and on and on! We activists must support humane laws, stop complaining and just act. Go to http://www.humaneparty.net/portal.htm and see what is happening in terms of legislation and get loud! Also, the League of Humane Voters http://www.humanevoters.org/ works to make things happen. Go to your local lawmakers and tell them what you want. There are lots of humane laws up for votes, but they die in session because no one supports them.

    What I have experienced is a lot of talk, but very little real action with the exception of Companion Animal Protection Society, http://www.caps-web.org/ and its founder, Deborah Howard, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the other political activist groups I have mentioned. Mary Shaver in Ohio has been working herself to death in trying to legislate the banning of puppy mill auctions for years now as well. I am sure I am missing some very important folks here, like Pet Shop Puppies and others and I apologize to them, but I would like to know each and every one of them and work together on revising the archaic Animal Welfare Act, get dog farms out of the USDA’s incompetant hands and pass laws that make mass breeding of Man’s Best Friend illegal. If that means taking on the AKC and PIJAC and big corporate agriculture….so be it. We have the numbers, but we don’t have organized activism. Time to lobby, make our votes count and stop the whining and think long and hard about how things done in this country: with money and votes! For a good read on the subject check out Julie Lewin’s “Getting Political for Animals”.
    Thanks for listening, Lorry Schlick, President

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