PAWS speaker urges students to act against puppy mills


Isabel Gisser

Wendy Pilot describes the mission of the Humane Society of the United States.

After celebrating pets through a bake sale on Feb. 21, PAWS (People for Animal Welfare and Safety) hosted Wendy Pilot, a volunteer speaker from the Humane Society of the United States on Feb. 22. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection agency, and its services apply not only to pets, but wildlife and farm animals. The organization has the broader mission of stopping egregious acts towards animals. In Minnesota, a step being taken towards this goal is the elimination of puppy mills.

I’m happy I had my two chihuahuas, but they were the reason for me to bring awareness to people, and I hope you guys do the same.”

— Wendy Pilot

Puppy mills, or locations where dogs are bred in horrible conditions to meet demands for “designer dogs,” are a long standing issue in the United States. 90% of pet stores, with the exceptions of Petco and PetSmart, sell puppy mill dogs and Pilot hopes to raise awareness. After telling the story of buying her first two dogs from a pet store and later learning of their puppy-mill origins, Pilot describes the consequences these horrible places can have on dogs. Pilot currently has 3 dogs, one of which spent over half of its life in a puppy mill. This dog still struggles to “act like a dog,” and is frightened by everyday activities like walking and going to the groomer.

In face of the gloom that comes with the subject of puppy mills, progress is being made. Roseville recently became the first city in Minnesota to ban the sale of puppy-mill dogs. California became the first state to ban puppy mill dog sales. In order to continue this progress, Pilot believes that awareness needs to increase.

“I would encourage everyone to talk to people and to bring more awareness. I mean, I didn’t know seventeen years ago that puppy mills existed, and I bought those two chihuahuas. I’m happy I had my two chihuahuas, but they were the reason for me to bring awareness to people, and I hope you guys do the same,” Pilot said.

In terms of more direct activism, Pilot suggests participating in Humane Lobby Day; an event hosted by the HSUS at the State Capitol on March 6. Participants have the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss HSUS provided issues, such as the Gas Chamber Bill. Tickets can be purchased here.

“Just being in that room shows your legislators that animals are something you care about,” Pilot said.