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Susquehanna SPCA, partners launch PAWS program

October 6, 2020 – On Monday, September 21, animal welfare professionals gathered at the future site of the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) to launch a new education program designed to help consumers distinguish puppy mills from responsible breeders. 

The program, “PAWS Before You Pay,” encourages people who are planning to buy a puppy to do their research first and empowers them with the information and resources necessary to do so. PAWS stands for “Puppy Mill Awareness With Shelters.” 

SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes was joined at the recent PAWS press conference by Libby Post, Executive Director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation, and Brian Shapiro, New York State Director with the Humane Society of the United States. Participating shelters include the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley, Delaware Valley Humane Society, Herkimer County Humane Society and Superheroes in Ripped Jeans. 

“Puppy mills are cruel and inhumane,” Haynes said following the press conference. “Our shelter receives complaint calls and inquiries all the time about several puppy mills currently operating in and around Otsego County. 

“Because these businesses are still legal, and because there is nothing we can do right now to stop them, the PAWS coalition believes it is vitally important that consumers have resources available to them to help determine whether they are dealing with a reputable breeder or a puppy mill,” Haynes said. 

Puppy mills are notorious for cramming dogs into filthy, overcrowded, stacked wire cages and for denying animals healthy food, clean water and basic veterinary care. Puppy mill puppies are known to develop serious health and behavioral problems that are very often expensive and difficult to treat. 

The PAWS launch comes during National Puppy Mill Awareness Month. Visit or another participating shelter’s website and click on the PAWS tab to gain access to general puppy mill information from the Humane Society of the United States, including a link to their “Horrible Hundred” problem puppy mills and puppy sellers. 

“For those interested in animal advocacy, the Humane Society is hosting a virtual ‘Puppy Mill Action Boot Camp’ on October 10, Haynes added. 

Boot Camp topics will include building coalitions, passing new laws, working with media, effective outreach, and the role of law enforcement in stopping puppy mills. The all-day online training event is free. 

Supporters of PAWS who would like to help spread the word are encouraged to donate at

 “Donors to the initiative will receive a ‘PAWS Before You Pay’ cling decal. Funds raised will assist in coalition efforts to educate the public about the importance of researching before buying a dog,” said Haynes. 

To learn more about the PAWS initiative, the Susquehanna SPCA and to view available animals, visit

To schedule an appointment to adopt, call (607) 547-8111.  


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