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Dark Side of Dairy Farming
The organic milk–puppy mill connection.

This spring, Newsweek reporter Suzanne Smalley reported about Main Line Animal Rescue’s efforts to crackdown on Pennsylvania puppy mills. In that story, she revealed how organic dairy farming operations—in this case, one supplying Horizon Organics and Whole Foods—were sometimes also breeding puppies for profit in wretched conditions. In a July follow-up, Smalley wrote that when she alerted Horizon to her story, they sent an inspector who shut down the farm in question. In addition, Whole Foods issued a “stern request” to vendors that their operations not use farmers who “breed or raise dogs inhumanely.”

A barebones website calling itself PuppyMillK.com provides a slightly more expanded overview of the puppy mill-organic milk nexus (a surprise to me) and identifies Land O' Lakes as an another big name in the mix. While the Newsweek story had a direct and immediate impact, it’s important to keep up the pressure. The financial incentive for farmers to sell puppies on the side is a great temptation. We need to be sure that companies that have built their brands around a wholesome ideal live up to those promises.

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com


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Submitted by Anonymous | August 20 2009 |

After I read this, I wrote to Whole Foods for clarification. This is the response I got (how does a letter ensure that their suppliers are not associated with the puppy mill industry?! Note that I removed the name of the customer information specialist) :

  • Thank you for your email. We have issued a letter to all of our vendors to ensure that none of them are involved in this type of practice. You can rest assured that none of the products that you purchase from us come from a producer that has engaged in this practice.

    Kind regards,
    XXXX|Customer Information Specialist
    Whole Foods Market|Global Head Quarters
    Phone 512-542-0670|Fax 512-482-7670

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