"I never really understood why people shouldn't buy dogs from pet stores until I adopted Muppet and learned about where she came from," says Katie Sturino, dog mom of Instagram celebrities, Toast and Muppet.
Muppet is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that was rescued from a puppy mill where she was restricted to living in a small pen. Muppet was very reserved and had a difficult time trusting others. This was due to the conditions she lived while at the puppy mill and lack of socialization and affection from the outside world. "Her behavior and how long it took for her to get comfortable with people impacted us to help and educate others about puppy mills," Katie explains.
You may recognize Toast and Muppet as they've become web celebrities because of their adorable Instagram accounts @ToastMeetsWorld
, you may also know their dad
. But Katie and the dogs quickly learned that their antics and cuteness were a great platform to share their story about the dangers of puppy mills, and how purchasing dogs from pet stores can enable the issue.
Muppet's fellow Cavalier sister Toast, was also rescued at the age of 6 by a rescue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She was found in a puppy mill raid amongst a litter of poorly cared after pups. She had all of her teeth when she arrived home with Katie, but they soon learned that they would have to remove her teeth as they were badly rotting.
After learning the emotional effects of being brought up in a puppy mill, as well as seeing the health issues Toast and Muppet faced, Katie takes every opportunity to share their story and answer questions to fans online. "Many people ask why the dogs have their tongues out all the time, thats when I'm able to explain why," Katie shares. She also encourages fans to #AdoptDontShop. Shopping at pet stores only enables these breeders to continue over-breeding and mistreating dogs.
The issue with puppy mills, is that they breed dogs for money, not for companionship or for the love of animals. The puppies are considered as objects as opposed to living beings, which is why living conditions for the dogs are poor and the health of the animals are the lowest priority. "To legally stop a puppy mills is hard because it's technically legal," Katie says, "they are considered livestock." There are standards for the breeders, but they are very low.
When we asked Katie what she would say to those who fall in love with dogs they see at pet shops and want to buy them, she responded that it's all about the "the longer play." Instead look into what the local legislation is for pet stores in your area as it's becoming more and more illegal to sell at pet stores. Getting a shop shut down can help significantly.
Another way to help Toast and Muppet's efforts are to support and donate
to Friends of Finn
, a committee of the Humane Society of the United States dedicated to stop the inhumane treatment of dogs at puppy mills.
For this week's Tail of Good, Freshpet will be donating to Friends of Finn on behalf of Toast and Muppet.