Northfield Student Fights to End Puppy Mills in Colorado


Left: An example of the cruelty of puppy mills. Right: Northfield freshman Bella Villacres working to address the problem in Colorado.

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding facility. According to freshman Bella Villacres, puppy mills are a big problem in Colorado. But Bella is the kind of Northfield High School student that takes action when she sees an injustice.

Bella describes puppy mills as, “people basically taking dogs by the dozens and breeding them for profit. It is an inhumane and cheap way of breeding dogs.” Those who run puppy mills, “tend to put seven dogs in one cage.”

Her description is painful to imagine but it gets worse. “The dogs will usually spend their whole lives in that cage, [sometimes when] pregnant, with no proper food.”

Bella first became an activist on the puppy mill issue when she went to a pet store and wondered where all of the dogs really came from. Trying to answer this question for herself, Bella began researching and was able to turn her research into her 8th grade community project at McAuliffe. 

Though it began as a school assignment, Bella’s passion has grown into her currently working on passing Colorado state legislation to ensure the wellbeing of dogs in Colorado. The bill requires those who seek to sell pets online to list PACFA (Pet Animal Care Facilities Act) license number in the advertisement so that people know that they are a licensed breeder.

On Saturday, October 26, Bella attended a dinner party hosted by Colorado Voters for Animals, an organization that fights for animal welfare through legislation. Bella got the opportunity to pitch her ideas to First Gentleman Marlon Reis (Governor Jared Polis’s spouse) and Senator Alex Valdez. They are now planning on meeting soon to begin planning the bill for the new session and present it to the floor. Bella also recently spoke with State Senator Joann Ginal, who agreed that there needs to be rules concerning PACFA.

PACFA (Pet Animal Care Facilities Act) is a program that works to protect the well being and health of animals and pets in Colorado. The biggest problem regarding the wellbeing of animals in Colorado right now is animals being sold through the internet. According to Bella, it is easy to breed and sell dogs through Facebook because once the breeders get busted, they can just make a new account and continue their work. This makes it hard to stop them. There is also commercial rescues where they mass produce dogs with a rescue license. This can make it harder to prevent them from treating the dogs poorly because they are licensed.

There are many other organizations and programs that are trying to help this issue like CFAWA (Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies). According to their website, CFAWA believes that “animals have the right to freedom from hunger or thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviors; and freedom from fear and distress.”