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How the First Puppy could help fight the puppy mill industry

This is my favorite photograph of Barack Obama. As a dog lover and aspiring pet owner, it makes me happy to see someone who is now our President-Elect showing such a kind-hearted side.

But there’s a lot more to the story than just a man holding a dog in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

He’s holding Baby, a three-legged Bichon Frise who endured nine years of abuse in the puppy mill industry before becoming the voice behind The Puppy Uniform Protection Statute, or “Baby’s Bill,” which was introduced before Congress just two months ago.

Baby was a breeding dog in a puppy mill. She was tattooed with a number on the inside of her ear, and her vocal cords were cut so the mill owners would not have to listen to her crying to get out of the cage.

On the day she was supposed to be killed, a stranger rescued her and took her the loving home of Jana Kohl. One of Baby’s legs had to be amputated as a result of osteoporosis, which is common among dogs that have an excessive number of litters.

Baby has received the support of a number of celebrities and legislators, including President-Elect Barack Obama.

“Baby’s Bill” (H.R. 6949/S. 3519) is co-sponsored by Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Terry Everett (R-AL), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The bill amends the Animal Welfare Act to require commercial breeders producing 50 or more dogs per year who sell directly to the public, including over the Internet, to be licensed and inspected by the USDA, and require that all commercial dealers provide dogs at their facilities opportunities for 60 minutes of exercise daily.

The bill has already met objections from hunting groups, as well as reservations from the American Kennel Club. They fear they are at risk and that there is some huge PETA “agenda” behind it. Don’t believe it for one bit.

People have been trying to put an end to puppy mills for decades, and Internet pet sales are making the situation even worse.

If you’ve ever visited a shelter, you will see some of the friendliest, most loving pets ever. These are pets who need and deserve good homes. The puppy mills need to stop.

The Humane Society of the United States put together an excellent investigative video that explains the horrors of puppy mills and urges you to support Baby’s Bill.

The video, along with a form that allows you to send a message to your U.S. legislators, is here.

To read Baby’s story, go here.

I think our President-Elect will do the right thing and adopt a shelter dog. Already, folks are scanning Petfinder to find a suitable fit for the family (considering daughter Malia has allergies). I’m excited about the message this could send.

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