The Susquehanna SPCA tirelessly saves homeless, neglected or abused animals every day. Now, the shelter has a mission to educate people looking to get a puppy about puppy mills and how to avoid supporting those who own these inhumane pet businesses by not buying a puppy from a puppy mill.

That's why they have a new program called that was launched in September called "PAWS Before You Pay" which seeks to help those who are looking to buy a dog, learn to tell the difference between a responsible dog breeder and those running puppy mills. PAWS stands for “Puppy Mill Awareness With Shelters.”

According to SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes, “Puppy mills are cruel and inhumane. Our shelter receives complaint calls and inquiries all the time about several puppy mills currently operating in and around Otsego County. Because these businesses are still legal, and because there is nothing we can do right now to stop them, the PAWS coalition believes it is vitally important that consumers have resources available to them to help determine whether they are dealing with a reputable breeder or a puppy mill."

What's so bad about puppy mills? They typically pack dogs into filthy, overcrowded, stacked wire cages and "caretakers" deny the animals healthy food, clean water and basic veterinary care. It's common for puppy mill puppies to develop serious health and behavioral problems that are very often expensive and difficult to treat.

To find out about the PAWS initiative and learn more about puppy mills and how to avoid them, visit SQSPCA.org. You can also check out a virtual ‘Puppy Mill Action Boot Camp’ on October 10 hosted by the animal shelter. The topics include building coalitions, passing new laws, working with media, effective outreach, and the role of law enforcement in stopping puppy mills. This training is free. Find out more at sqspca.org/paws-initiative.

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