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A friend of mine noted that my poodle's name, Eddie LaHay, sounds like a fighter's name. How appropriate, because Eddie is a fighter.

Eddie spent the first 8 years of his life in an Iowa puppy mill. He was rescued by a wonderful animal sanctuary in Nebraska and that's where I found him. He was frightened of everything. At the hands of a breeder he learned that no one can be trusted. Slowly but surely he's come to trust me, but he is still frightened of absolutely everyone else. His life in a mill robbed him of his life as a normal dog.

No doubt Eddie fathered dozens, if not hundreds, of adorable puppies. But what a price Eddie paid. And the mothers of those puppies likely fared ever worse. Horror stories abound; sick and injured dogs kept in small cages their entire life solely for the purpose of breeding. The kennel Eddie came from was licensed and inspected by the USDA. The commercial dog-breeding industry is terribly broken.

It is likely that if those who bought Eddie's puppies had known what they were supporting, they wouldn't have done so. The problem is, most people who shop for puppies don't take the time to educate themselves. Many simply ask the breeder, "Are you running a puppy mill?" and trust their response. Educating the public is an important piece to getting control of America's puppy mills, but it isn't a panacea. We also need to increase the standards that licensed breeders are held to and they need to be enforced! Currently the USDA does very little when a breeder violates the inadequate USDA rules.

Tell everyone you know! Puppy mills are a very big problem. Please do your research and make an informed decision when you add a pet to your family. Never buy a puppy without meeting the mother and seeing where she lives. The dogs need you to do this.

Mary LaHay
Des Moines, IA

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