According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are close to 10,000 puppy mills in the country, and many of these dogs are said to be sold to pet stores. Pet owners continue to take stand against these large-scale operations by organizing an annual Puppy Mill Awareness Day in Austin.
The community gathered at Scholz Garten in downtown where over a hundred people came to learn more about the issue and encourage the adoption of rescue dogs.
"Charlie knows 56 commands through touch and scent. How many of your dogs know more than 10 commands?" event supporter Tara Stermer said, whose dog is blind and deaf.
Stermer works with differently-abled dogs and was a guest speaker at the gathering. She says Austin values animals so being informed about these unethical practices that leave dogs sick and carrying diseases is important.
“For us, we want to make sure people understand that for breeders who actually care about their breed is not going to discard a dog … and leave it out in the woods in Waco or something like we found with Charlie,” she said.
The Austin-based non-profit Puppy Mill Awareness Day, PMADTX, says the puppies are confined in a small space 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
"Many people purchase pure-bred puppies from breeder's online and pet shops without knowing the true conditions of these factories that they and their parents came from; Cages stacked upon one another, feces & urine dripping down from one cage into another and the dogs within below. Mothers are constantly bred with no break in between litters to keep production moving."
The event is meant to highlight these issues, and allow visitors and pet owners to look deeper into how they decide to purchase their new pet.
"We grew up in the country so there were dogs everywhere, but when we moved to the city there are more adoption processes and integration, like finding all these organizations that get to know the animal before you can adopt it,” one visitor said.
It also gave vendors and adoption agencies a platform to talk about microchipping and fostering.
"The amount of dogs that we have is intense but you know you have a puppy, you go buy a dog from a puppy mill and you have medical issues and you have big problems with behaviors," Stermer added. "And then we wind up seeing them in our shelters.”
The ASPCA says "there are currently 21 states that have no laws on the books regulating commercial dog breeders." The group also say the "states that do require breeders to be licensed and inspected only require commercial breeders to meet USDA standards of care."