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Friday, April 04, 2008

Oprah Puts Puppy Mills Front and Center

Today, one of the most powerful voices in media will inform television viewers around the world about the cruelties of puppy mills. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" will air an entire hour-long program on protecting pets—in honor of Oprah's dog Sophie who recently passed away—featuring animal advocates such as Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the United States and Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue. Check your local listings and watch the show if you can.

Cagesstackedoutside2_2 Oprah’s attention to the issue is bound to provide an additional surge for the current groundswell of public policy reforms on puppy mills. Last month, Virginia became the first state to pass legislation in 2008 restricting the mass breeding of dogs at these commercial factory farms. Twenty other states are now considering bills to crack down on the abusive puppy mill industry. Lawmakers and consumers around the country are recognizing that dogs should be treated like part of the family, not crammed in filthy, wire cages, stacked on top of each other, just to produce litter after litter for pet stores and Internet sales.

The presidential candidates are speaking out, too—it's especially significant as Pennsylvania, the next big primary state, is the puppy mill capital of the east coast. Senator Hillary Clinton previously cosponsored the Puppy Protection Act in the 107th Congress and the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS) in the 109th Congress. Senator Barack Obama is featured in the new book, “A Rare Breed of Love,” posing with Baby, a three-legged poodle who survived a decade of abuse in a puppy mill. Both Clinton and Obama support the current provision in the Senate Farm Bill to ban the import of young puppies from foreign mills in China, Russia, Mexico, and other countries. 

When Oprah speaks, she can change the debate and move markets. Let’s hope that policymakers will listen and take action. Contact your legislators today and ask them to protect man’s best friend from being treated as a cash crop.

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