Recently, the shocking reality of puppy mills has been put in the spotlight. The terrible conditions being photographed and recorded have prompted more and more people to find their loving companion from the shelter, instead of online or pet stores. Unfortunately, still hidden from public view, are other types of breeding facilities: churning out smaller animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds to be sold at pet stores.

Pet mills exist for profit, and sadly, animal welfare standards are low. While the hamster you see running on wheels at pet store looks cute, he most likely spent the first few weeks of life in a tiny enclosure with insufficient food, water or care. But at least the babies will be lucky enough to escape the horrors of the breeding facility, to be sold as pets. Just like with puppy mills, the parents of these cute babies will remain trapped on the proverbial hamster wheel of pain and suffering, until they are no longer deemed profitable. Inspection reports also reveal numerous Animal Welfare Act violations, including green algae in water bottles, small animals being housed in enclosures three times too small, while illness and death runs rampant.

Don’t support pet mills. Many shelter and rescue groups, including the San Francisco SPCA, have small animals available for adoption. Meet your next small and furry friend at your local shelter! Visit their website to view adoptable smalls here.

This post is brought to you by the SF SPCA