March 21, 2017

Canton, Georgia, Unanimously Rejects Puppy Mills

puppies in a cage

On March 16, the City of Canton made Georgia history when its six-member City Council voted unanimously to ban the sale of commercially bred puppies and kittens in pet stores. The new law, which takes effect immediately, encourages pet stores to instead partner with local rescues and shelters to offer animals for adoption. Canton is the first city in Georgia to take this humane step, but it joins more than 220 other localities across the country that have enacted similar laws.

Most pet stores across the U.S. that sell puppies are supplied by puppy mills. These facilities house their animals in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Breeding dogs are forced to produce litter after litter without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization, and no opportunity to feel grass beneath their feet or sunlight on their backs. As a result, many of their puppies suffer health and behavior problems—and families are often unprepared for the financial loss and heartbreak that can occur when sick pets are purchased unknowingly.

The ASPCA thanks the members of the Canton City Council for taking a stand against puppy mill cruelty, and we applaud Mayor Hobgood for wasting no time in signing the measure into law. We also thank our Canton advocates for speaking up in favor of this ordinance.

Council members each spoke about their family pets and why they were supporting the proposal, including as a means of addressing the issues of puppy mills and pet homelessness. “This is a good beginning to eliminating mills. If we diminish the demand, we diminish the supply,” said Council Member Sandy McGrew. Council Member Farris Yawn agreed: “This is the direction our citizens have told us they overwhelmingly want us to take. I feel very strongly that this is the proper thing to do.”

Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said that he’s received more positive feedback from constituents on this one issue than on anything else during his nine years as mayor. “I’m so proud of this community, which unselfishly cares about the wellbeing of puppies and kittens when there are those who seem to care more about financial gain.”

The measure in Canton comes amid attempts by the pet broker industry to undermine local efforts to protect dogs and consumers. Georgia House Bill 144, legislation to prohibit cities and counties from passing their own laws to keep cruelly bred puppies out of pet stores, failed to pass earlier this month, but now its backers are trying to amend their harmful pro-puppy-mill language onto other bills—and Georgia animal welfare advocates must remain vigilant.

If you don’t live in Georgia, you can still make a difference for puppy mill dogs. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to tell the USDA to make long-overdue reforms to federal commercial breeder regulations.