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    Exercising Our First Amendment Right
    April 29, 2015 4:28 pm  
    Exercising Our First Amendment Right

    Letter to the Editor:

    Dear Mrs. Abrams and Sayville community,

    My name is Mary Wilson and I am one of the puppy store protestors you referenced in your letter to the editor.  Your letter says you are “passionate about animal rights” … we do have that in common.  However, some of your statements I would like to address.   But first let me say that I have made no personal remarks regarding the owners of the new “Little Wonders Puppy Emporium.”  In fact, I have said on several occasions that I hear they are kind people who love their animals.  I have no reason to doubt this.  So please be careful implying we are “bullying” or making “false accusations.” If anything of that negative nature occurred it was isolated and not indicative of the group that has been protesting.

    We are not affiliated with any specific organization, rescue group, or individual.  We are simply informed, caring people, who love dogs, met on facebook, and came together for one united cause:  to stop the suffering of “breeder” dogs held captive in US puppy mills.  Anyone who is truly “passionate about animal rights,” should have no problem with this.  Nor should they have an issue with us exercising our first amendment right to speak on behalf of these tortured dogs who cannot speak for themselves.  I see our protests no different than a citizen posting a sign in their yard saying don’t participate in school testing.  Where would women be today if Susan B. Anthony had not protested for her beliefs? Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it is right.  People have protested for decades to create positive change.  We have the right and a duty to speak up for the greater good, the innocent and the forgotten.  We are blessed to live in a country that affords us that privilege and the opportunity to evolve into better human beings.  So I don’t understand why any citizen of Sayville would take issue with us exercising our right to create positive change.  If more people truly understood the severity of the suffering associated with this industry, this store would not be opening.

    To clear up any confusion, the term “puppy mill” is synonymous with “commercial breeder,” or “licensed breeder.”  The HSUS estimates there are 10,000 “licensed” commercial breeding facilities in the USA.  The USDA issues the majority of the licenses as can the states.  The AKC, ACA, and UKC are simply registries – not licensors. Inspecting facilities and dogs is also not their purpose. It is estimated that there are at least 500,000+ breeding dogs being held in US commercial breeding facilities today.  That number jumps exponentially if you factor in the non-licensed breeding facilities.  The same people who regulate livestock inspect these facilities.  The dogs are a cash crop – nothing more.   In these facilities (aka puppy mills), dogs endure unfathomable suffering and are literally caged every minute of their very short lives – typically in small, filthy, wire cages.  Many cannot walk because regulations say the containment only has to provide 6” of clearance on all sides of the dog.  Imagine a Golden Retriever living her entire life in a cage that small – feet never touching ground or grass.  Most, if not all, of these dogs need medical care.  They get no socialization, exercise, or kindness.  Some are forced to live isolated in the dark 24 hours per day.  As long as they are physically able to breed, they are useful to the “licensed” commercial breeder (or puppy miller).  When they can no longer breed they are disposed of in a variety of creative ways like shot, drowned, buried alive, or sold at auction for medical research.  Most don’t live beyond the age of 4 or 5 for a variety of health related reasons including parasites, open wounds left unattended, botched births and surgeries, extreme over-breeding, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, and on, and on.  I assure you, it is no life any “animal lover” would wish for their own pet.  That cute puppy in the pretty store left behind parents who are suffering immeasurably so shoppers can have the latest designer dog or “exceptional” purebred of choice.  A shih-Tzu like my rescue should live an avg. of 14 years under normal conditions – it is a documented fact that a Shih Tzu in a “licensed breeding facility” only lives an avg. of 5-6 years.  How is this even remotely acceptable to anyone?  Yet the public continues to support puppy mill outlets. Where do we draw the line at someone’s right to operate any business they choose?  I say we draw the line at PAIN and SUFFERING.

    As for your letter, it is NOT illegal to sell puppies from a puppy mill (aka – licensed commercial breeder).  If it were I wouldn’t have to type this very long letter and stand on a curb with a sign. Proposition 1047 (which I spoke for) was passed in 2014 and basically says puppy stores have to divulge the origin of the pups and can be subject to fines if they are selling pups from breeding facilities with any direct violations ormore than 2 indirect violations. Definitions are VERY fluid. Indirect violations could be improper bedding in a below freezing winter in Iowa, or feces in the water supply.  This affects hundreds of dogs but only counts as one minor violation.  Inspectors can report it or look the other way as many do. You can see actual USDA reports with pictures, names of puppy mills, and the Long Island stores they supply on the fb page “NY Puppy Store Truths.” Of course as soon as the 1047 law passed, we have proof that the USDA informed breeders on how to get around violations.  The dog breeding industry is very political and very cash heavy.  This information is accessible to anyone who wants to know the inconvenient truth.  You need look no further than the USDA label on the cage to know if it’s a puppy mill dog.   Also remember these cute pups will look NOTHING like the tortured parents they left behind.

    There is no “good” commercial breeder – licensed or not.  But don’t take my word for it.  Google puppy mill and simply peruse the photos.  Sadly, because the breeder dogs fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA, they are protected by the very antiquated 1966 animal welfare act and nothing more. That Pomeranian or Labra-doodle is livestock to them.  You and I would be arrested for treating a dog in the manner the USDA codes allow in these facilities.  Inspections required only yearly are often skipped. Many inspectors are “friendly” with those running the facilities and look the other way.  So just because a “licensed breeding facility” has no direct violations does not make them any less horrendous  – it just means they’ve evaded violations for the past 2 years.  One of the ladies who stands with us foils interstate shipping records (CVI inspections) and matches them to the free online USDA inspection reports.  She finds violations not cited or recorded incorrectly constantly. The reports would make you physically sick if you care about dogs at all.  It is common sense that those who enjoy abusing animals would be drawn to this industry where there heinous activities go largely undetected.  Our group is much more educated on this topic than most and I wish people would simply research before challenging us.  But I hope we can ALL agree on this; no-one should be supporting any industry that neglects or tortures dogs for profit and is also putting a lot of very unhealthy dogs back into our system.

    Second, if the owners of the Little Wonders store did indeed reach out to try and obtain some rescue dogs, I’m not surprised no rescue group would agree to that if they knew the store also planned to sell commercially bred dogs. That would be hypocritical and will never happen.  If the store owners would agree to use the store to re-home rescue dogs EXCLUSIVELY, they would have our 100% support.   Although most of us protesting would prefer that people choose rescue first, we are not protesting against buying a pure-bred.  We are protesting against sourcing dogs from “licensed commercial breeding facilities (puppy mills).”  Pet stores consistently tell buyers that they get their pups from reputable breeders.  This is ALWAYS A LIE – and NEVER going to happen.  Please think about it! NO reputable breeder is going to sell their pups to a retail outlet where they have ZERO control over who is going to purchase that pup.  NO reputable breeder would do that.  A reputable breeder will put you through the ringer before selling you a puppy. They are concerned about lineage, proper care, your yard, home, and most of all MEETING YOU. They would never allow you to walk in off the street and buy one of their pups as if you were buying a pair of shoes.  Reputable breeders are just as appalled by licensed breeding facilities and pet stores as we are and we have their support. Just ask one.

    We know the “Little Wonders” Puppy store owners profess to love dogs and have even rescued one.   Fantastic!  We also know that 99% of the puppy stores in this country source their puppies from a “Licensed Breeder” (aka puppy mill).  Pet stores will tell you they buy from “good” ones with no violations.  There are no good ones – only ones who have managed to work the system to get around the violations.  We also know that these so called “licensed breeders” put 2,100,000 dogs back into an already overcrowded system last year.  The same year we killed over 3,000,000 dogs in shelters because the few of us who are committed to rescue couldn’t find them homes.  This is an absurd shameful situation from both a humane and an economic standpoint.  The public could put an end to this disgrace by simply not shopping in pet stores – simple.  But people want what they want and they don’t want to be held accountable for contributing to the problem.

    Know this:  when you buy a puppy from a pet store, you are NOT RESCUING it!  All you are doing is putting money into the stores pocket and a puppy mill’s pocket.  Worse, you just gave the puppy mill a reason to breed more pups to fill the empty cage YOU created.  There will be another just like it coming right behind yours. Your pet store purchase is KEEPING A PET STORE IN BUSINESS THAT IS KEEPING A PUPPY MILL IN BUSINESS.  It is a vicious cycle fueled by supply and demand.  We are trying to eliminate the demand so we can stop the cycle and put these puppy mills out of business.  Pet stores and online websites are the primary outlets for puppy mills and anyone who opens a pet store knows this. If the person who bred the puppy isn’t meeting you personally, and doing tons of research on you, you are buying from a commercial breeding facility.  If you purchase from a pet store YOU are as much a part of the problem. There are many good, humane, options when getting a dog; yes, even a small young purebred toy dog.  Just ask one of us.  We are happy to help anyone find the dog they want.

    So if we protestors do not stand up and speak out for the dogs forgotten in these “licensed” breeding facilities, who is going to do it?  (Cue the Crickets….)  That is why we will be there on the sidewalk in front of the new store every weekend until we know that the mother’s who are birthing this store’s pups are not suffering.  What if that was your dog being force bred in one of these mills?  Visualize that!

    To those who challenge us:  Yes – we sometimes get louder than we should because we care so deeply and it’s a very emotional issue when you know the truth.  So please don’t insult, make unintelligent statements, or tell us we’re “followers”, or to “get a life,” or even worse that we’ve heard. When the stakes are so high we will not back down.  We do our homework and make it a point to be accurately informed.  It is not our mission to ruin anyone’s livelihood or cast a negative light on the beautiful village of Sayville which I too love.  But if your livelihood is to profit off of these dog’s suffering, then perhaps you should have chosen a less controversial, more humane, profession.

    For any false statements made regarding the owners of this new store I am truly sorry – I did not make them.  For any threats they have received I am sorry – I did not make them.  But I will not apologize for being a strong, passionate, voice for those who have no voice.  I am so tired of the ignorance and so tired of seeing these dogs suffer for man’s greed it turns my stomach and it has to stop!  We won’t be silenced when it comes to telling the truth about the filthy, horrible, commercial breeding industry.  I will not apologize for exercising the rights both my father and brother served this country for.  I will not apologize for being the person who is willing to give up her weekend to stand on the street in hopes of enlightening others to the plight of the forgotten dogs that die in puppy mills every single day!  We are not hypocrites.  We walk the walk no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular it becomes.  We stand on facts – not conjecture and meaningless rhetoric; albeit they are very sad facts.  We love ALL dogs… not just the cute puppies.  This is why we protest. This is what we are about.

    Our hope is that everyone who reads this will do their own puppy mill/commercial licensed breeder research.   When you are accurately informed, fresh paint, cute dog clothes, and a catchy name, won’t mask the truth.  To the true animal lovers in Sayville and surrounding communities:  If you’ve honked in support of us, given a thumbs up, stopped to POLITELY chat or ask questions, signed our petition, we thank you for your support – it means so much!  We are thrilled to know that so many support us and have told us so. If you’d like to do more, stand with us and give these forgotten dogs an even stronger unified voice; a voice that says “please stop our suffering for man’s greed.”


    Mary Wilson

    Suffolk County resident who shops regularly in Sayville and supports your local businesses




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