Is there anything better than a puppy? I love puppies for their sweet milky breath, their
floppy-limbs, and wagging tails. The way their hips sway when they walk, their rough
and tumble play, and their wet slobbery kisses sometimes followed by sharp-toothed
nibbles. To me, puppies are pure happiness. During the course of my day, puppy
appointments bring me such great pleasure and invariably sustain me in a profession
that can sometimes be heartbreaking and punctuated by loss. Seeing families
completed by the addition of a new puppy is always a great joy to me.
National Puppy Day was started in 2006 to celebrate the pleasure that puppies bring to
our lives, but also to raise awareness about the places which supply the puppies that
we bring into our homes. Where you get a puppy matters. Puppy mills, for those who
don’t know, are breeding facilities that place a higher priority on selling puppies in high
volumes than on the quality of a dog’s life. These facilities operate by numbers and
profits, crowding dogs and puppies into cages often stacked one on top of the other.
They ensure that breeding dogs are impregnated by their first heat cycle and during
every heat cycle thereafter, forcing them to whelp litter after litter with no time to
recuperate between. Dogs too old to continue producing litters are often killed rather
than retired. Puppies are frequently taken from their mothers too early, are denied early
socialization, and are often deprived of adequate nutrition, shelter and medical care.
Many of these facilities are licensed by the USDA, which has provided lax oversight in
ensuring the health and safety of these animals. The majority of puppies sold online or
in pet stores are products of puppy mills.
What does this information mean in terms of adopting a new a puppy? What can you
do if you want a puppy, but don’t want to contribute to these harmful practices? First
and foremost, make it a priority to adopt from a shelter or rescue center. New York City
has a number of excellent groups whose mission is to find homes for stray and
abandoned animals. By adopting from rescue organizations, you may be saving a dog
or puppy that would otherwise be scheduled for euthanasia. Second, use the power of
your dollar by shopping only at pet shops that don’t sell puppies. Please be kind by
not supporting unscrupulous practices. Third, do your research. If you have always
hankered for and felt compelled to adopt a full-breed puppy, only adopt from
responsible breeders. You will find more information on how to do that here.
Finally, once you have brought your puppy home, don’t forget to schedule the first vet
visit to make sure your puppy is healthy and protected from disease and parasites.
Please remember to spay and neuter your puppy. And don’t forget to take a lot of
pictures — they grow so fast! Happy National Puppy Day!