National Puppy Day: how to celebrate and advocate for all pups

March 23 is National Puppy Day; keep reading for ways to celebrate with your best mate while recognising the plight of dogs at puppy farms in Australia.

Border collie pup for article on National Puppy Day

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

As Australia gears up to celebrate National Puppy Day on March 23, animal lovers and advocates across the nation can the significant role puppies play in our lives.

Established to honour the unconditional love and joy these young canines bring, animal welfare organisations say National Puppy Day is a chance to raise awareness about the issues facing puppies nationwide, particularly those born and raised in puppy farms.

This year, the day is not only about celebration but also about education and action, aiming to highlight the need for compassionate and responsible pet ownership while advocating for the welfare of all puppies, regardless of their origins.

National Puppy Day, launched in 2006 in the United States, has grown to become a global day of awareness and advocacy. Celebrated every March 23, the day highlights the joy and companionship puppies bring into our lives.

As highlighted by Rebecca Linigen, National Director of FOUR PAWS Australia, who says National Puppy Day is a reminder of the companionship dogs provide.

“Dogs are beloved companions that provide so much emotional and physical support,” says Rebecca Linigen.

“To share your home and life with a dog is truly special and is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.”

In 2024, National Puppy Day aims to bring attention to the darker side of the pet industry, focusing on the plight of dogs suffering in puppy farms across Australia.

Conditions in these farms can be dire, with dogs like Lily, a survivor of a NSW puppy farm, still bearing the scars of her past. The day serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle against such cruel practices.

Michelle with Lily for Animal Friendly Life article on National Puppy Day and puppy farms in Australia
Lily spent the beginning of her life in horrid conditions on a puppy farm (image: Emma Wand Photography)

Australians can celebrate National Puppy Day through various activities that promote animal welfare and a love for our fluffy bundles of joy!

Spending quality time with your dog is a simple act you can do to celebrate the day. Other ways include adopting or fostering puppies or supporting animal charities. And using social media to raise awareness are all impactful ways to participate.

Here’s our top tips for supporting the day:

Spend the day with your dog Take them for walks, a swim, or have a play at the local dog park.

Adopt or foster a puppy in need If you’re ready to take on the responsibility of having a puppy, adopting or fostering one is the best way to go. Check out your local shelters and rescue organisations to find a pup in need of a loving home.

Support an animal charity If you aren’t in a position to adopt or foster, there’s many other ways to show your support. Why no donate to, or volunteer at, your favourite rescue organisation? Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to assist with feeding, cleaning, and even walking the dogs.

Host a puppy playdate with all your favourite people (and their pets!)

Encourage others to support National Puppy Day by sharing your photos and messages on social media.

Puppy farms – or mills – are arguably one of Australia’s largest causes of animal cruelty.

The conditions and veterinary care may vary at different puppy farms. However, the reason they exist is the same, to intensively breed dogs.

These animals are fed and given water but are otherwise often denied even the most basic animal-welfare right.

Rebecca Linigen from animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS 

FOUR PAWS has long campaigned for an end to puppy farms. The organisation credits the demand for ‘designer dogs’ as a reason for the ongoing trade.

“It has become common for Australians to buy animals online via classified ads sites,” says Rebecca.

“Especially those breeds who are considered ‘designer’ and therefore attract a high dollar value.

“This demand has given rise to puppy farmers who use animals as breeding machines, ” she says.

“Focusing on producing a high number of litters every year.”

Dogs in puppy farms can suffer a host of welfare concerns, says Rebecca.

“This includes overcrowding, ongoing confinement, over-breeding, early infant-mother separation; the animals are treated as commodities.

“The farms are set up like commercial breeding facilities and the breeding animals are kept generally in very poor conditions.

“All the dogs live in small spaces, with little lighting, no ventilation or heat.

“Puppy farms can contain hundreds of dogs at any one time, all living in squalor.”

The constant breeding can also lead to significant veterinary and behavioural issues for dogs.

“These dogs end up going to shelters later in life and end up costing exorbitant amounts of money.”

“The females often suffer horrific physical injuries from constant pregnancies and birthing, while the males often suffer mistreatment and neglect.”

The puppies leave their mothers before the end of their nursing period. This deprives them of fundamental social contact.

The pups are taken from their mothers too early. And, only a few weeks after birth, are sold to pet stores or advertised online.

Puppy farm Oscar's Law for the fight against puppy farms in Australia
A puppy farm dog (credit: Oscar’s Law)

FOUR PAWS’ belief is that adopting a pet from a shelter is the best way to find a new companion.

“Every year in Australia, tens of thousands of pets needing homes are euthanised,” says Rebecca.

“There are so many animals waiting for a home to call their own, of all breeds, sizes, and ages.

Shelter pets receive assessments for both health and behaviour problems. They receive vaccinations, as well as microchipping and desexing.

“If just a fraction of Australians adding a dog to their home chose to rescue instead of breeder-buying, we could end the killing of healthy companion animals in shelters.”

Visit their website more information on Four Paws’ campaigns and how you can help.

Four Paws’ tips for people looking to bring a puppy into their family

Avoid buying animals through online websites or advertisements, newspapers, and pet shops.

Always visit a reputable and licensed breeder, and ask to see their licence

Check they have the correct paperwork for an animal

Check the general health of the puppy and their surrounding area – do they appear well cared for?

Ensure the puppy is at least eight weeks old before being separated from their mother.

Make sure all the proper health checks, procedures and paperwork has been done – it’s essential the puppy is fully vaccinated.

Ask lots of questions! A reputable breeder should always be happy to not only answer them, but offer ongoing support after you choose to purchase an animal from them

Spend time with the animal before buying to ensure they have the right temperament for you and your family

FOUR PAWS Australia
FOUR PAWS Australia

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