Fact Finding Is Important for Advocacy
Our country is puppy crazy. Consumers must make a decision as to where to obtain their next furry, family member. Some consumers choose to adopt from a rescue or shelter, while some elect to purchase from a responsible breeder. Others, unfortunately, decide to purchase from an online puppy-selling broker or breeder website-this method is dangerous. When puppies are purchased from online brokers or breeders, there is a multitude of inherent risks that the consumers take such as purchasing a sick or behaviorally unhealthy puppy, not receiving the puppy that was ordered, and purchasing a puppy that was born in a puppy mill. The only way to truly know where the puppy was born is to meet the mother and see, in person, where the puppy was born. Using the “click and ship” or “click and meet” methods of purchasing a puppy and having the puppy shipped to your home or meeting the breeder in a location away from where the puppy was born, does not allow the consumer to determine if the puppy was born in a puppy mill. Meeting the mother and seeing where the puppy was born is an effective method of due diligence designed to determine if the puppy was born or not born in a puppy mill. After all, the puppy’s purchase price could be thousands of dollars, so practicing due diligence before the purchase is a logical way to protect your investment, and your heart.
Another method of due diligence, oftentimes used by animal advocates, is to request a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI)-sometimes referred to as a health certificate. A CVI is a legal document required for animals, such as puppies, crossing state lines. The certificate’s purpose is to ensure that the animals are healthy to travel and are not showing outward signs of disease or parasites that could be harmful to the people or animals they come into contact with during transport or at the eventual destination. Animal advocates obtain these CVIs by performing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request through a state’s Department of Agriculture. For example, if a puppy was born in Missouri and sold or shipped to a customer in Illinois, such as a broker, pet store, or consumer, a veterinarian in the state of Missouri must evaluate the puppy and complete a CVI before the puppy is shipped to the end location. CVIs are important for animal advocates and consumers as it documents the breeder or broker’s information in Missouri and the purchasing customer’s information in Illinois. Having access to the breeder or broker’s identity allows the consumer and animal advocates to carryout due diligence and research the breeder or broker’s history and reputation. BUT, there is a catch-there is often a fee for obtaining a CVI. Each state’s Department of Agriculture can charge a fee for obtaining and delivering a CVI to the requesting party. Is this fee worth it?
If you are a consumer practicing due diligence before you purchase a puppy, knowing the breeder or broker’s information may assist you in determining if the breeder is responsible or if the broker utilizes large scale, commercial breeders to fill consumer’s orders. Knowing the broker or breeder’s name allows you to conduct an online search or search the USDA database that houses breeder inspection reports. Having this information is an important piece to the puzzle when determining in what type of facility your puppy was born. For example, if the CVI states the breeder or broker is John Doe from 666 Puppy Mill Lane in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you can search John Doe’s USDA inspection reports and see that he had 167 adult dogs and 123 puppies on his property during his last USDA inspection. This data may help you decide that John Doe is operating a large scale, commercial-breeding facility-otherwise known as, a puppy mill.
Animal advocates frequently request numerous CVIs in their research to help build a database to track questionable breeders and brokers. Requesting multiple CVIs can be extremely expensive with invoices in the hundred’s dollars for multiple CVIs or even $59 for one CVI-that is expensive! So why is it so expensive? Is it the state’s Department of Agriculture’s attempt to dissuade non-profit advocacy groups from researching their state’s breeders? Is it really labor intensive for office staff to retrieve CVIs from an electronic database? Does it require extensive manpower to review FOIA requests and obtain CVIs for the public’s viewing? Is it a way for government to make money? Regardless of the cost, the data obtained from the CVI is invaluable to animal advocates and the consumers. Please consider donating to Stop Online Puppy Mills to assist in deferring the costs of obtaining CVIs and making FOIA requests. In addition, if you are a consumer, and you are about to purchase a puppy from a questionable source, please do your due diligence and obtain the information about your breeder and broker BEFORE purchasing the puppy. If you determine your puppy comes from an irresponsible source, the cost of due diligence PRIOR to purchase could save you a lot of money and heartache in the end.
Stop Online Puppy Mills