Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a classroom of vet tech students. The topic was puppy mills. I watched, along with the class, the infamous Oprah segment on puppy mills and euthanasia in shelters which first aired in 2008. I remember 2008 vividly because it was the year I walked into my first puppy mill auction. Oprah’s show aired only a month after. Back then, I was on the couch tears streaming down my face, screaming at the TV that it was “WAY worse” than what they were showing.
As I sat through the movie last night, tears streaming down my cheeks again, I couldn’t help but wonder what has changed in 8 years. We are STILL fighting the puppy mills and there is still the senseless killing of millions of dogs and cats each year. EIGHT years later…
When I was watching the movie and thinking through my presentation, it was the same. Eight years later and there are still 10,000 puppy mills. Eight years later and we haven’t closed down a single one?
I know we have closed down a number of mills, but new ones open and we continue to battle an industry that is cruel and heartless and yet, still exists legally.
As I explained last night, the movement has taken a different approach. Instead of only battling the mills, we are now focusing on the demand. There are currently 126 ordinances in place among varying states, cities and counties that prohibit pet stores from selling dogs/puppies who come from mass breeding facilities. Today, in those pet stores, the dogs must come from rescues and shelters. That IS progress.
I want to believe that MORE people are aware of the truth. I want to believe less people buy their puppies from pet stores or on-line.
I can’t lie. I felt a bit defeated on my drive home. I mean nearly a decade later after the Oprah show and things felt painfully similar.
However, on a personal level, I had a major realization. Eight years ago, I was sitting on my couch crying. I felt lost and unbelievably embarrassed to be a part of the human race who treated animals so poorly.
Today, (AKA: last night) I was actually speaking to future veterinary professionals about puppy mills. Sure, I shed a few new tears, but most of my tears have become actions. I am involved on so many levels. My book is published and raising awareness. I attend events to educate people on puppy mills. I hold protest signs and shout truths. I have even made my way to TV to share my journey.
I acknowledge these accomplishments because I want people to see that IF you are really passionate about something, it is up to YOU to get involved. Eight years ago, I was a meek, overly emotional person struggling to make sense of the horrors I saw. Today, I am committed to making a difference. And while there are moments where I feel change hasn’t come fast enough, I, personally, know by the emails I get and the people I meet, that I have made a difference a person at a time.
YOU can make a difference. Whether it be puppy mills or shelter killing or even a non-animal cause, find what you believe should be better in this world, get involved and make a difference.
Eight years have passed and if I know nothing else, I know I made use of them by following my heart and believing I could change things. I am grateful that I got off the couch and got involved.