There was plenty of action this past week during the Humane Society of the United States' "Puppy Mill Action Week."

Here's some of the news: HSUS launched a national "puppy mill" tip line to encourage people to report cruelty in commercial breeding facilities. The hotline, 1-877-MILL-TIP, is open to anyone with information of a possible crime involving puppy mills.

The action week coincides with the start of the holiday shopping season. Most animal welfare groups agree that giving pets as gifts is generally not a good idea, lest they end up being returned to a store or dumped at a shelter. But if someone on your Christmas gift list has put a pet at the top of their list, animal welfare groups say, consider adopting from a shelter rather than buying from a pet store. Evidence shows most pet shop puppies come from large commercial breeding kennels.

To illustrate that point the HSUS last week released a video interview (see below) with a puppy mill whistle blower - a Virginia man who worked at several commercial kennels where he says dogs were routinely shot or beaten to death for being sick or unproductive. Those that survived, he said, were forced to live outside in crude boxes filled with their own waste.

In other news from the frontline of the nation's puppy mill wars, Wisconsin became the tenth state this year to enact legislation to clean up commercial kennels.   The Wisconsin Commercial Dog Breeders Licensure Bill requires large commercial breeders and animal shelters to be licensed by the state and sets minimum standards of basic humane care and provides for regular inspections to ensure compliance. The measure targets only large-scale facilities and does not apply to small breeders who sell fewer than 25 dogs in a year.

And, a small community in the scenic Finger Lakes region, southeast of Rochester, New York, last month took what may be the strongest step any municipality has taken to curb puppy mills: they banned them outright. The town of Romulus now requires pet breeders to provide humane housing for dogs and cats and ensure that such animals are treated properly. It also restrict kennels to industrial zones, mandates periodic inspections and penalties for cruel treatment.

"It has been documented in the press that dogs rescued from puppy mills exhibit a wide array of veterinary and behavioral problems," town supervisor David Kaiser told the Finger Lakes Times. "Given the threat to both animal safety and public health, I'm proud of the effort of the town to fight this problem."

The council took action after enacting a nearly two-year-long moratorium on commercial kennel construction.