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Tribune Editorial: Doggone it, that policy decision was stupid

With the USDA's recent decision to take down Animal Welfare Act inspection reports, it is time to show the puppy mill industry that without transparency, the public will not buy into their business. Surely there are large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities that are top notch and ensure their animals are taken good care of; however, there are far too many that don't

If the public, which is the consumer in this case, is unable to determine whether or not the facility they are purchasing from is one that goes against their own moral standards or not, then they should walk away with their money still in hand. If TV stations are able to easily obtain which restaurants have failed to properly label their lettuce through state reports, then surely it should be public whether or not a puppy mill charged with the lives of hundreds and often thousands of potential family pets are guilty of abuse or neglect.

There are many of these so-called businesses that fail inspections on a regular basis - even locally in the Detroit Lakes area - that the state never shuts down despite the findings. The only weapon the public has had to try to combat the issue is knowledge of which ones are guilty of abuse or neglect, thereby making it possible to freeze them out financially. Now, all that information is all nicely hidden away, so until it becomes public again, we urge consumers to adopt from animal rescue shelters..

Rescue organizations in Becker County are always filled with animals just waiting to find a family to take them in. Sometimes the very type of animal people are searching for is sitting right there at the Humane Society of the Lakes or the Marshmallow Foundation, both in Detroit Lakes.

Ask almost any pet owner that chose to go the rescue route whether or not they regret it - the answer is almost always no. There is a very special bond that people tend to get with rescue animals - they are animals that often already have a sad story, but their adopter is their hero and that is exactly how they look at them.

If nothing else, before going the commercial route, just stop by to visit some of those animals. There are rooms where visitors can play with the adoptable pets in order to get a feel for them, and they can certainly be visited several times before a decision is made.

There are things that government entities do that people struggle to make hide or hair of, and this is one of these things. If large-scale commercial dog breeders aren't doing anything wrong, then they've got nothing to hide. The fact that there is a movement to protect them from public scrutiny suggests there is a reason for that and they should not be supported.

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