Crusaders hoping to raise public awareness about puppy mills demonstated on Saturday in front of on Route 25 in Aquebogue.
Barbara Dennihy of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) said her organization has been working to expose pet shops that use puppy mills to supply their stores.
"Many, many New York State stores use these mills or brokers who use puppy mills to stock their stores," she said. "Logic tells you that puppies don't fall out of the sky--they have to come from somewhere."
Although Scott Kaphan, owner of The Puppy Experience, was not available for immediate comment, a manager at the store, John, who asked that his last name not be given, said CAPS demonstrators make stops outside many area pet stores.
"They didn't ask where our dogs come from," he said. "Our dogs come from breeders. I'd be glad to provide them with information if they would just come in and ask."
The protestors, he added, carried "horrible signs" and did not bother to give the store a chance to respond to their allegations. "They just lumped us in with everyone else -- that's what they do," he said. "We don't do anything wrong or illegal -- we just do business. I sleep at night because I get my dogs from a good place."
He added that the demonstation outside his store was just one of many scheduled stops.
Dennihy said often, consumers are told the puppies they are buying are from local, professional breeders when "the puppy's health certificate tells a different story. Education of consumers is an important way to help make changes and expose the cruelty behind the puppy in the window."
Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Kansas, and Iowa are the leading puppy distributors to New York State pet shops, Dennihy said.
Recently, the Kent Animal Shelter in Riverhead participated in a
Kent Animal Shelter Executive Director Pam Green said puppy mill dogs have social problems because they have been living in cages. Other problems puppy mill rescue dogs face include dental issues and difficulty becoming accustomed to life outside of a cage.
Some dogs, she said, have genetic issues including heart murmurs due to close breeding.
Green agreed public education is important. Often, breeder dogs are used to create new "designer" mixed breeds, such as "morkies." The pups, Green said, are sold on the internet and in pet shops. Once the breeder dogs outlive their usefulness, many are sent to auction or euthanized.
"People should be aware that if they buy a puppy in a pet shop, they're getting a puppy bred in a puppy mill," Green said.
Over three million dogs are bred in the United States each year, Dennihy said. But, she added, shelters across the country euthanize another three million adoptable dogs due to lack of space. "What is wrong with this picture?" she asked. "Our New York State politicians need to take a hard look at the rules governing pet dealers to help put an end to this atrocity."
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.