Letter to the editor: There will be a stink in the air

New commercial dog breeding operations are in the planning phase in Conejos County. These facilities, also known as puppy mills, can house hundreds of dogs and puppies. The feces and urine at puppy mills pollute the air and is harmful to human and environmental health and has been documented in articles by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). We need to protect the quality and purity of the air in Conejos County by telling the County Commissioners to vote against allowing more commercial dog breeding operations.

A common practice in puppy mills is to discard waste by spreading dog feces in fields. When feces pile up and remain in an area the material becomes flaky, enabling lighter particles to be airborne. These particulates can travel through air currents up to 600 miles. Harmful toxins, bacteria, viruses, odors, and dust particles become aerosolized and are dispersed these air currents.

The pollutants that impact air quality the most are ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and carbon dioxide. Decomposition of the waste materials creates ammonia, which has a pungent smell and can settle on vegetation or water runoff causing algae blooms in the receiving waters. Native vegetation has been severely harmed in this process. People who have been in puppy mills speak about the overwhelming stench of ammonia and irritation of nose and eyes. The airborne particles can trigger allergic asthma and seasonal allergies.

Commercial breeding operations are regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act and by Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA) of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. They are tasked with regulation of the treatment of the animals and not environmental concerns. There is essentially no oversight of the air quality of the areas surrounding commercial breeding operations.

The quality of the air affects everyone in Conejos County. We need to preserve the purity of the air and prevent pollution of toxic wastes produced by commercial breeding facilities. On June 16 the Conejos County Commissioners will vote on whether to allow two new facilities and the increase of an existing one. Let the commissioners know that you are against the formation and expansion of these operations.

Cheryl Gross

Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare


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