An Associated Press report in Monday's edition of The Mercury reported on one day in the life of an animal rescue worker driving through Lancaster County buying mistreated animals. The account described the horrid conditions inside high-volume puppy mills: "... an overwhelming stench of urine and feces. Ammonia fumes burn the nose and eyes. The simultaneous barking of hundreds of dogs creates a wall of sound that makes it hard to think, let alone converse.
"Lacking a bone or toy to occupy their time, some dogs go into a frenzy every time they see a human. Other dogs circle endlessly. Still others just sit there, staring, like a 'warm statue,' says Jessie Smith, special deputy secretary of dog law enforcement at the state Department of Agriculture.
"Breeders often act as their own vets, performing delicate surgical procedures — docking tails, "debarking" dogs by hacking at the vocal cords, performing Caesarean sections on pregnant females."
Thanks to a group of committed SPCA activists, these puppy mills are being exposed in the press as the profit-hungry, cruel factories that they are. "The corps of combatants" fighting against the abuse in puppy mills, notes the Mercury article, are "tireless." It is an uphill battle, to be certain, but when you see the horrible acts of abuse captured on tape (for example: a series of recent dog beatings in New York filmed on video), you begin to understand how crucial it is that animals receive better protection under the law. It is encouraging to see that many states, including Pennsylvania and Minnesota, are enacting much tougher anti-cruelty laws. This is a welcome move in the right direction. And the passage of such laws is largely because of the pressure being placed on legislators by animal rights activists.