View Full Version : Billboard Turns Up the Heat on Puppy Mills in Lancaster County, PA

03-15-2005, 06:55 PM

(Click on above link to access more links...and can we put these billboards up everywhere?)

Dutch Oven: Billboard Turns Up the Heat on Puppy Mills in Lancaster County, PA

March 11, 2005

©2005 Main Line Rescue
By Rebecca Simmons

Blazing red barns, quaint horse-drawn buggies, and breathtaking landscapes greet the thousands of tourists who come to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania each year. But this picturesque patch of what is commonly referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch Country has a dirty secret: puppy mills—and lots of them.

“Many people believe that Lancaster County has the highest concentration of puppy mills in the country. It's estimated that there are hundreds of operations,” says Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Now, that dirty secret is being exposed in a very public way—by a billboard on the busy Pennsylvania turnpike. The board, funded by Main Line at a cost of $500 a month, can be seen near the Lebanon/Lancaster exit. The eye–catching sign was installed in February and has been educating people traveling to Lancaster County to purchase a puppy—as well as residents who may be unaware of what their neighbors are up to.

“We thought a billboard would be the best way to reach as many people as possible and to educate them about the conditions in the mills and the plight of these poor dogs,” says Smith.

In addition to directing people to www.MainLineRescue.com for more information, the billboard also advertises www.StopPuppyMills.com, the HSUS web site devoted to educating people about puppy mills. “We contacted The HSUS and asked if we could list their web site, which has a lot of state–by–state information on puppy mills. They have been extremely supportive,” says Smith.

Like many animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country, Main Line, a non–profit that specializes in the rescue and placement of abused, unwanted, and abandoned companion animals, has accepted hundreds of sick puppies over the years from people who have purchased their dogs either directly from puppy mills or from pet stores.

“These dogs often require extensive and costly medical care or have behavioral problems caused by a lack of socialization and indiscriminate breeding. It can be a huge burden on our shelters and rescues,” says Smith. “Many of the dogs are given to Main Line Rescue because the owners can't afford their medical expenses. Recently we’ve seen five month old Lab puppies with ‘papers’ from Lancaster with severe hip dysplasia, a Bulldog puppy bred by an Amish farmer with severe respiratory and eye problems, and a four month old Yorkie who will need expensive surgery to repair a genetic defect in her heart.”

Rather than forever absorb the hidden emotional and monetary costs of puppy mills in Lancaster, Main Line decided to proactively target the operations’ main sources of revenue: potential puppy owners. The billboard is both a warning to consumers and a startling wake–up call for puppy mills that often operate beyond the reach of the law.

“We decided that we were no longer going to bear the financial and emotional responsibility for these poor animals without telling as many people as we can about the puppy mills who bred them,” says Smith.

The problems of puppy mills are not confined to Lancaster County. “Thousands of breeding operations exist in the United States,” says Stephanie Shain, director of outreach, companion animals for The HSUS. “And many of these puppy mills still operate despite repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.”

The goal of eliminating all puppy mills is a large one—but the word about puppy mills is spreading. Originally, Main Line’s goal was to educate people in Pennsylvania and to put pressure on the puppy mill operators in Lancaster County. But heartened by the overwhelming popularity of the billboard, Main Line is now hoping to encourage animal welfare organizations in other states to put up boards in their own communities.

Smith hopes that the increasing amount of publicity will help people understand where puppy mill puppies come from—and the kind of cruelty that buying a puppy can reinforce. “I wish that when people saw that cute little puppy in the pet store window that they could also see that puppy's mother and father. If they could, they'd realize that these dogs are living lives of isolation, deprivation, poor health, and fear.”

Want to help stop puppy mills? The best thing you can do is to tell others why they should adopt a pet from a shelter or a reputable breeder instead of at a pet store, over the Internet, or through a newspaper ad. “Educating others is the most important thing you can do,” says Shain. “If no one was buying the puppies, there'd be no reason for puppy mills.”

Visit the HSUS action center at www.StopPuppyMills.com and learn how easy it is to educate your friends, family, legislators, and community.

03-15-2005, 07:54 PM
Boy, I live half an hour from Lancaster, and never saw one of those billboards. Now I'll make a special trip out sometime soon just to try and spot one!

03-16-2005, 08:31 AM
Good for them!!! http://www.cutestsandgirl.com/images/icons/icon_clap.gif I hope it helps.

Can anyone get a better picture of the billboard?

03-16-2005, 12:32 PM
I saw this on my way to Philadelphia last Friday. It caught my eye even though I was doing about 75 at the time...:eek: :eek: :D


03-16-2005, 06:24 PM
I love it, but it needs to be a bit more graphic, sorry, to catch people's eye, and the writing is very small. When do we get to put them up all over Wisconsin, especially Milwaukee, Chilton, and Brillion?! I'll be there to watch. And it's great that nobody can sue or they'll get caught for running a mill.