A Challenge To Oprah

Apparently, Oprah talked about puppy mills on her show today. Kudos to Oprah for bringing this disgrace to the public eye. If anyone can get Americans to change their behavior, it's probably Oprah. Just look at what she's done for Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, and all those authors on her book club list.

According to my mom (she's the one who watched the show), Lisa Ling did an undercover story for Oprah (I'm not clear if she's a staff person or not). There was actual footage of puppy mills, showing their inhuman treatment of dogs:

  • how the female dogs are bred every time they go into heat, so they are always pregnant or nursing;
  • how the dogs don't know how to walk because they're kept in tiny little cages, even if the breeder has acres of land;
  • how there's little use for the male dogs that aren't sold...

Puppy mills sell their puppies to pet stores, so as a consumer, you are potentially supporting this industry. The only way to avoid this is to rescue a dog or puppy from the pound, or a breed rescue. Unfortunately, those animals that are brought to the pound will often be euthanized since these facilities can only handle so many animals. If the animals are not adopted after a period of time, they are "put down." The other way to help minimize the number of animals that are euthanized is to spay and neuter your pets. This reduces the number of unwanted and feral animals.

I think it's laudable that Ms. Winfrey is taking this step to promote animal rights. However, in her show she and Ms. Ling made comments that the dog breeders felt they were justified in their behavior because they thought of the dogs as "livestock." So, are we saying that it is okay to treat livestock in an inhumane manner?

Oprah, maybe you should watch Earthlings and see if you still feel the same way about the "acceptable" treatment of livestock.


  1. Thank you so much for doing a post on this. As I was watching the show, I was waiting for them to take the next step and state that it is not right for ANY animal to be treated this way. But, as we all know, that moment never came.

    I have a love/hate relationship with Oprah for this very reason. She raises awareness about a lot of important issues, but sometimes, she really can’t see past the end of her nose.

  2. thanks so much for writing about this! It needed to be said, I my emotions get so carried away I never know how to do it like a “grown up.”

  3. I agree… Maybe you should forward this post to Peta and let them get on her back. Could you imagine how much change she could affect?

  4. I am really happy she finally did a show on animals, and I’m hoping this will open the door to her doing a show on factory farming and other things. I cringed too when they seemed to be saying that it is OK to treat livestock as objects.
    Maybe all of us vegans should write to her thanking her for the puppy mill show but also asking her to extend her compassion to farm animals and other exploited animals. It’s so sad that she really just covered the tip of the iceberg. Oh, she didn’t even say anything about the animal shelters that can’t afford to give each animal a lethal injection. Kind of ironic that the Chicago shelters use gas chambers right under her nose, and she didn’t say anything about that.

  5. Hi everyone, sorry for the delay in responding we’ve been having a little trouble with the administrative functions of the blog. Anyway…

    Savia, Jane and I watched the show later that night. Yes, we were waiting for that next step too (it is wrong to treat ANY animal inhumanely). It’s not always that easy to make such a leap. We thought about our food very differently before becoming vegan. At least the puppy mills have been exposed. Perhaps the pounds will see a huge increase in adoptions (and therefore reduced euthanasia).

    Mikey — Glad to be of service. I’ve found the best way to do it “like a grownup” is to write out a draft and walk away. When you come back to it later, it’s not as fresh and you can be more objective. Now, if only we could actually convince Oprah somehow!

    David — interesting suggestion. Peta certainly has a larger audience than we do…

    Lindsey — Definitely write to Oprah. Send her a link to this post if you think it will help. I think Jane wrote her and suggested she have her team do a little research on just how humanely “livestock” is being treated, and how intelligent some of these animals are. Regardless of their intelligence, they feel fear and pain. Things need to change. — And I had no idea that gas chambers were used to euthanize animals here in the US. How horrible!

    Elaine — Actually, we’ve been working on a petition. Hopefully we’ll have something together soon.

  6. Are there limits on how human beings can legitimately treat animals? Can we treat them just any way we please? If there are limits, what are they? Maybe one day our children will look back on the current generation and wonder how we ever believed it was tolerable to treat animals the way we do. I sincerely hope so.

  7. i’m really excited about this!! i was thinking, could we send this to a bunch of veterinarians and animal hospitals to get more signatures? i’m sure that would be significant and a lot of people with “titles” would sign. also, i think it’s important we stress that no one is asking for people to become vegan/vegetarian (although it would be nice, snicker, snicker) just that we greatly improve the quality of life and and give humane treatment to all beings, for the benefit of them, us and everything on the planet! it’s a win win win!

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