According to the official website, National Puppy Day was established in 2006 by Colleen Paige, an animal behaviorist and author. The purpose of the holiday is not only “to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives,” but also to raise awareness of puppy mills and the horrors of animal abuse.
Although there is no legal definition of a “puppy mill,” the ASPCA describes it as a breeding operation that neglects dogs for the sake of turning a profit. Disease, overcrowding and a lack of basic grooming can be indicative of puppy mill treatment. Puppies bred under these conditions are sold online, through newspaper ads and sometimes even in your local pet shop. While there are probably between 2,000-3,000 USDA-licensed dog breeders, the ASPCA estimates that up to 10,000 puppy mills may exist.
Unfortunately, dogs face a number of other challenges as well. Overcrowding is a serious issue, with an estimated 6-8 million pets in shelters. Although euthanasia has decreased significantly since the 1970s, when around 12-20 million dogs and cats were put to sleep every year, the Humane Society website claims that around 3-4 million dogs and cats are still euthanized annually.
To keep dogs and cats alive and healthy, pet owners should practice responsible spay and neuter techniques and continue to support animal shelters. If you’d like to help raise awareness for abusive dog breeding, consider signing the Humane Society’s pledge to stop puppy mills.
Interested in adopting a pet? You can find a shelter near you on Petfinder.com and the ASPCA website. However, don’t forget that owning a pet is a big responsibility. As a first time pet owner, you may want to try fostering a pet before making the final decision.
To celebrate National Puppy Day, submit a photo of your furry friend, or just check out the adorable pups below!