SHIPSHEWANA -- A new billboard in Shipshewanna is taking aim at commercial dog breeders, also known as puppy mills. The group called Pet Shop Puppies posted the billboard that reads "Don't support local puppy mills," on the North end of Shipshewana off of State Road 5.
At Camp K-9 in Mishawaka, owner Linda Candler is watching over around a dozen dogs rescued from a puppy mill, trying to rehabilitate them before putting them up for adoption. Candler says many of the dogs had never even been on grass until just weeks ago. They had lived their entire lives inside of a crate being used only to breed more puppies.
"It's not fair for the dog, a dog to live in a crate for 8 years, never touching the grass, never being able to be outside, it's just inhumane for the dog," Candler said.
That's what she and the Pet Shop Puppies organization are trying to stop by taking the fight to the Shipshewana skyline.
"Shipshewana is huge with tourism, so I think... people are going to start asking, 'Where did this dog come from? Can I see its mother? can I see its father?' They're going to start asking those questions and that's going to bother those people who sell those puppies," Candler said.
So why Shipshewana? Candler says it's the heart of puppy mill production in Northern Indiana. Pet Shop Puppies reports 84 puppy mills in LaGrange and Elkhart Counties. The USDA website lists less than 20 as being licensed.
"We want them gone, we don't think a dog should live its life in a crate," Candler said.
The billboard in Shipshewana cost $2,818. The group plans to add more throughout the area.