Suffering in silence

Puppy mill laws are still loosening and it needs to stop

Megan Percy , Staff Reporter


Like most animal-loving five-year-olds, I wanted a four legged friend more than anything in the world. I cried, stomped, whined, and threatened to run away from the house to get one. But where I saw a fluffy best friend that would love me until the end of time, my parents saw vet bills and a large amounts of animal waste in their clean house. That lasted the majority of my childhood, until the fateful day my parents didn’t fight my wishes, and we brought home Lydia.

“You promise you’ll clean up after her?” my father questioned, skeptical of the level of responsibility a 9-and-7 year-old might be capable of. “Take her on walks everyday, brush her teeth, comb her hair, give her baths?”

Of course, eager to get our hands on this new and fluffy creature we could now call ours, my sister and I said yes. For seven years we’ve kept that promise. Lydia has had a safe and comfortable life, adored by my family. But while she sleeps next to me in my bed every night, warm and happy, thousands of dogs suffer across our nation in horrific and inhumane conditions in establishments known as puppy mills.

Puppy mills can contain from 10 to 1000 dogs, fit into tightly packed cages. Their well-being is given little to no consideration by breeders. They are treated as products and machines, females dogs giving birth and getting little to no chance for recovery before breeders have them impregnated them again, and are killed when they can no longer give birth. Females and babies are often given little space to live and are rarely, if ever, cared for. When found, some have feces in their fur and many have not been outside their cages in months. Over breeding is another thing puppy mills are to blame for:

Two million dogs are bred in puppy mills each year; three million are euthanized due to overpopulation in sh”

— Megan Percy

elters. These atrocities happen across America every day, and more so in Missouri than any other state.

In the past, Missouri has made several attempts at helping the situation that has branded us the worst puppy mill state in the United States, that have ultimately dissolved into nothing. In 2010, the state put in place the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which limited time between breeder inspection, made more space necessary for animals in said breeding areas, and put a limit of 50 dogs per breeding practice. Though this was an obvious win for many organizations backing this measure, such as the ASPCA, Humane Society of Missouri, and Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, it was short lived due to the immediate backlash from rural voters to repeal this act, and a year later it was made into a “compromise” that dismantled the majority of the effective parts of the legislation and has slowly declined in use over the last five years.

The war for legislation on animal rights has been a long battle of animal rights activists versus the rural demographic in Missouri. Animal rights activists have the obvious problem against overbreeding and cruelty against animals, but the breeders, who mainly hold residence in non-urban areas fear legislation may lead to the suffocation of their businesses. Breeding is very lucrative in Missouri and a large population of professional breeders hold licenses here, meaning the loss of the flow of money in such business would cause economical effect on many of them. But while I am old enough to understand the reality that money is a necessity in the world we live in, protecting living creatures is a moral issue and no amount of cash should subject a being, especially one as pure as a dog, to suffer. Allowing that cruelty upon anyone or anything is a neglect parallel to the neglect puppy mill employees inflict upon the poor souls they refuse to care for, and our state government and citizens should recognize it.

    Over the years since Prop B, despite the ever slackening restrictions on animal rights, the conversation about puppy mills and animal cruelty has dropped. Even though major legislation is no longer being passed, small amendments to aiding animal suffering are still happening in our state.

     It needs to end here. Every winter, two-week old puppies are found frozen solid in their cages. Every day, mother dogs give birth to puppies that could easily be in the solemn line of unsuspecting animals, unknowingly awaiting their own deaths a few months down the line. Every minute, a puppy is born into and later dies in a mill, knowing nothing but carelessness from our species.

     That could have been Lydia. That could be any dog. We do not know how many or which puppy will fall at the hand of human negligence. But we can stop it.

     Pick up a pencil or fire up a computer. Email or mail your governor at and tell him about this, change his mind. Go online and volunteer with the Humane Society. Do not buy animals online without being sure they are living in a habitable environment. Report puppy mills. Inform someone about these horrors. But don’t stay silent. Give animals a voice, because the barks of a wounded animals cannot be used in court. Give them light, because they cannot see in the darkness of a cage underneath and behind 16 others. Give them hope, for all the hope a dog’s wagging tail and undying loyalty gives us.