STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
As the season changes from summer to fall, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is asking the public to help raise consumer awareness and push for changes that will lead to the eventual “fall” of puppy mills.
“September is National Puppy Mill Awareness Month, and there is no better time to remind folks that there are hundreds of thousands of dogs living in cruel and inhumane conditions all across the United States, including right here in our own backyard,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.
A year ago, knowing there were several such businesses operating in and around Otsego County, the SQSPCA launched its “PAWS Before You Pay” initiative. PAWS stands for Puppy Mill Awareness With Shelters.
“It’s important that consumers have the resources available to them to help determine whether they are purchasing from a responsible, reputable breeder or a puppy mill,” Haynes said. “The parents of those cute little puppies you’re looking at online are very likely living in darkness in a tiny wire cage, with little human contact, getting inadequate food, water, exercise, and veterinary care.”
The standards of care for licensed puppy mills are notoriously low and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is understaffed, making enforcement of the federal regulations that do exist difficult at best, Haynes said.
To help raise awareness of these deplorable conditions and educate consumers through Oct. 2, the SQSPCA is hosting a special “Fall of Puppy Mills” informational event. Visitors to the shelter who inquire about the PAWS Before You Pay initiative will receive a free PAWS Before You Pay decal and a free pumpkin while supplies last. The pumpkins, a nod to autumn and representative of the “Fall of Puppy Mills” message, are compliments of Middlefield Orchard.
“Come in and talk with our staff. We can provide information and resources on how to find a responsible dog breeder, and how you can help stop puppy mills,” said Haynes.
The SQSPCA is located at 5082-5088 State Route 28, south of Cooperstown. Hours of operation are noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Appointments to meet animals are advised, to avoid wait times, but walk-ins are also welcome.
To view available animals, to donate, or for more information, visit www.sqspca.org.