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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Putting an End to Puppy Mills: Ending an Inhumane Industry

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

If Ghandi’s greatness barometer is accurate, the U.S. is not doing well on our moral scorecard. Dr. Phillip Raclyn, a veterinarian at Yorktown Animal Hospital, attributes this poor performance to the existence of puppy mills, large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities where hundreds of thousands of dogs live and breed in desperate, dirty conditions with minimal human contact.

Despite several local and state laws, the efforts to put puppy mills out of business have not succeeded. However, Raclyn has an innovative plan to put an end to this inhumane industry. “The real problem is that someone who wants to buy a purebred puppy hasn’t got a lot of good options,” he explains. “People go online to find a puppy to purchase but finding a great breeder and the right puppy online is like negotiating a minefield. Anyone can be anything online and it’s nearly impossible to find a healthy, well-bred puppy. In frustration, far too many people go to pet stores where 99 percent of puppies come from puppy mills. And I think we all know just how difficult it is to go into a pet store and leave without purchasing a puppy.”

“Making an impulse decision to buy a puppy is exceedingly unwise,” Raclyn continues. “Not only do pet stores sell puppies that may be completely inappropriate for someone’s lifestyle, but they’re often sold sick or with parasites. The cost for caring for a sick puppy can run into the thousands of dollars, but even if there are lemon laws, they only cover up to the actual cost of the sick puppy.  Deciding to return the puppy to the pet store is difficult, as sick puppies are often euthanized. Furthermore, the impulse purchase of a puppy can have ramifications a decade or more into the future, as poorly bred puppies become middle-aged dogs with serious medical problems, such as hip dysplasia, diabetes and other endocrine problems, chronic allergies, skin disease and cancer.”

“I realized that what the public needed was some sort of way to find a great breeder. The only way to do that was to create standards and a certification program,” says Raclyn. “If the public had better, safer and easier options, they wouldn’t buy poor quality puppies from pet stores with all the inherent problems that leads to. “

Raclyn’s solution is a certification program for breeders offered through The Veterinary Council for Breed Stewardship (, an advisory group of highly respected veterinarians from across the country. Breeders can apply for certification after agreeing to abide by the Council’s standards, which include a commitment to vaccination and deworming protocols, an educational course requirement, veterinary examinations for each puppy prior to sale, pet insurance and a willingness to take back a puppy at any time for any reason throughout the life of each dog.

Once certified, breeders can offer their puppies to the public through the organization’s website, Puppies purchased through the site feature a lifetime guarantee, making it a safe, secure and ethical choice. Raclyn believes that there are many people who would prefer to buy a puppy from a responsible, ethical and certified breeder who has raised their puppies by hand and with love. He notes, “If the PuppyProject and the Veterinary Council for Breed Stewardship are successful and are able to capture even a small piece of the market, we believe that the puppy mills and pet stores that sell these dogs will no longer be able to continue to do business in the manner that they have been for more than 50 years.”

Yorktown Animal Hospital is located at 271 Veterans Rd., in Yorktown Heights. For more information, call 914-962-3111 or visit For more information, visit or