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Puncturing the Puppy Mill Pipeline

Michigan resident targets pet stores supplied by unethical breeding operations

In a city famous for heavy hitters like Henry Ford, Joe Louis, and the Detroit Tigers, the name Pam Sordyl may not get instant recognition. But among animal advocates, she’s known for delivering knockouts to a formidable opponent: puppy mills.

The indefatigable Flint, Mich., native has singlehandedly built a 360-person volunteer corps that hits the abusive industry where it hurts most—in its wallet. Come rain, snow, or shine, group members spend Saturdays conducting “Adopt, Don’t Shop” demonstrations outside pet stores that do business with puppy mills, which subject animals to desperate lives of confinement and neglect. Sordyl is racking up the wins: Since 2008, five of the puppy-selling pet stores she’s targeted have closed.

Laid off from her job as a General Motors financial analyst, Sordyl brings the full force of her business savvy to bear on the problem. Sparked by her attendance at the 2007 Taking Action for Animals conference sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), her advocacy crystallized when she founded the Southeast Michigan Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup to protest a boutique pet store in Northville, a tiny Detroit suburb.

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