One of the unfortunate aspects of being a foster dog parent and embarking on this journey with our blog is that I have been exposed to the “dark” side of the dog industry. Everyone has heard the term “puppy mills” or been brought to tears by a story of terrible neglect that pops up in their newsfeed. But the problem is much more prevalent than I ever suspected before I started writing about dogs.

It leaves a person with a feeling of helplessness and mistrust. What story does this little dog with those big, baleful eyes, looking up at me, have to tell? Where did she come from? These questions aren’t readily available in most cases with lawmakers mostly falling short of the mark in regulating the industry.

But what if there was a hub that could harness the people power of the dog community who could then, collectively, grab the industry by the lapel and force them to adopt safe, cruelty, and abuse free practices? What if there was a way to do what the yelp app did for other businesses? A way to hold the industry, and the people in it, to a higher standard if they wanted to continue to make a profit?

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Those questions aren’t rhetorical anymore. A close friend of mine reached out today and turned me on to a new endeavor by Kim Kavin, an author, who has catalyzed a movement around the ideas encased in these queries. Her book The Dog Merchants “…reveals the complex network behind the $11 billion-a-year business of selling dogs. A must-read for the benefit of all dogs, everywhere.” and it is only the beginning.

To build on this proverbial peek behind the curtains, Ms. Kavin has launched a website that promotes consumer reviews of any and all outlets from which people can get a dog. It presents factual information that the “merchants” can’t change in the event of reports like animal cruelty, illegal activities, sick animals, etc. Moderators on the site are vigilant, they do not allow merchants to delete negative reviews and they monitor the site for reviews made out of spite — which are common for rescues that turn down adopters for reasons pertaining to the dog’s safety–

There’s also room for those “merchants” and people who adopted/bought the dogs to upload photos and videos of the place of business and dogs that came from there, as well as discuss the experience with reviewers. The framework is designed to provide an unbiased platform for those interested in getting a dog to go in order to make the best decision possible for themselves and their future family member.

The website has just launched earlier this month. We are in the process of adding Rugaz Rescue to their database and getting our past adopters to post their experiences, for better or worse. I can only speak for myself, but the idea and execution behind DogMerchants.com is an extraordinary endeavor to ensure the safety and proper treatment of dogs around the world. We are 100% behind Ms. Kavin and her goal of creating a website to achieve these goals!

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