Want a pet? Pay a visit to the shelter first

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Puppy mills are in the news this week as the Humane Society of the United States reports that flea markets are the preferred point of sale for operators of puppy mills.
Puppy mills, for anyone who does not know, are as inhumane as the name would imply. Mills are not well-kept institutions and quite often these dogs live in cramped quarters without enough access to food and water, let alone room to move about.
The Clarion Ledger reports Thursday that the HSUS found vendors selling puppies raised in inhumane conditions in three flea markets, all located in north Mississippi. Flea markets are popular among unscrupulous breeders because, unlike a pet store, there is little public scrutiny and animals can be sold cheaply and without any records of vaccinations or spaying and neutering.
But mill operators in Mississippi have little to fear even if there were more public scrutiny, because state laws regarding animal cruelty are incredibly lax. The state mandates that people provide food, water and shelter for their animals but beyond that, there are no other requirements. Most cities have laws limiting the number of animals allowed at a home, but there are few, if any, laws that regulate the sale of animals.
This is a public concern because, as the HSUS reports, animals purchased at flea markets are frequently turned loose or abandoned, resulting in stray animals.
There is a good reason why animals adopted at shelters or from reputable breeders are costly, and that is because those animals generally come with up-to-date shots and often the animals are spayed or neutered, meaning they unable to breed and create unwanted animals. Besides that, keeping domesticated animals in a humane manner is not a cheap investment, and a reasonable charge at the beginning of the process can help weed out those who cannot afford to care for a pet and would either neglect the animal or abandon it.
We encourage our readers to visit the shelter for a pet before they go to a breeder or flea market. Also, we urge our lawmakers to take reasonable action to curb the sale of animals at flea markets.
Many communities in Mississippi have problems with strays, and restrictions on the sale of cheap, unneutered animals would do a lot to fix that problem as well as improve the lives of the animals in question.

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