Las Vegas has joined the growing number of United States towns banning the sale of animals from “puppy mills.” Existing pet stores have two years to phase out puppy mill puppies and to begin selling animals from shelters, rescue organizations, or humane societies instead.

Puppy mills are large, inhumane, commercial breeding operations where animals are kept in small, stacked cages and often live in filth and excrement. They are denied medical care and sometimes have no water or food. These poor animals never experience affection or a romp outside (or inside). Puppy mill animals aren’t able to play or socialize with other dogs or people. The wire floor of their prisons hurt their paws. Females are perpetually pregnant until they are too old to breed, at which time they are euthanized.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that the puppies are bred without proper genetic consideration and are prone to congenital and hereditary heart disease. They also may suffer from blood and respiratory disorders. Some puppies have parasites, pneumonia, and other health issues. They suffer emotionally from being separated from their mothers and litter mates at a young age. Early separation can result in fear, anxiety, and other behavioral issues.

Animal activists have been working tirelessly against puppy mills for years. According to Best Friends Animal Society, many towns and cities are helping to drive puppy mills out of business by instituting ordinances that stop pet stores from selling them.

While puppy mill owners strive to maximize their profits with endless breeding, 2.7 million animals are euthanized annually (approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats) due to lack of space in animal shelters. The ASPCA warns that people purchase puppy mill puppies unknowingly through newspaper ads, online, at swap meets, and at flea markets. The puppies may have official looking papers, but a breeder would never sell puppies at those types of venues. Breeders interview their potential clients to ensure their puppies go to good homes.

Puppy Mills are predominately legal but not always licensed or inspected. If you are aware of cruelty or neglect at a puppy mill you can report them to HSUS Puppy Mill Task Force tip line, 1-877-MILL-TIP, or fill out the form on www.humanesociety.org. Many heartwarming raids have emancipated suffering puppy mill victims and placed them in homes where they are loved, cared for, and finally able to socialize and exercise

If you’d like to help eliminate puppy mills you can talk to your local pet store, watch the Humane Society’s advocate webinar, contact your legislators, write letters to newspaper editors, give your veterinarian flyers, or set up a display in your public library to increase awareness.

The ASPCA estimates that there could be 10,000 puppy mills in the United States. As new towns ban the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores we move closer to eradicating them. Thankfully, the momentum is building.