Too Many Mill Dog Rescues. Make It Stop. #BTC4A

Leila, our latest Mill Dog Rescue

In April, my dog rescue was invited to work in support of another to save mill dogs. Contrary to my title above, there are never too many mill dog rescues. I want to save them all. But there are far too many reasons to have to rescue, and that’s what needs to stop. You have the power to make the difference just by making a simple, educated choice – even if you aren’t in the market for a dog.

How the dogs come…

An unending supply of beautiful little souls arrive through a contact who begged puppy mills to give up their unwanted dogs. These dogs would otherwise be shot for lack of productivity or for missing traits of the breeds that they are supposed to represent.

Our contact gets the call, retrieves dog-filled crates at the end of a mill’s driveway, surveys the dogs for immediate health concerns, and sends them on a 12 hour transport to freedom.

When 2 means 30…

Last Thursday’s call said two dogs were ready for pickup. Somehow 2 meant 30. Mills are dumping dogs now that a new law went into effect. Puppies were pulled from 3 young moms by millers that morning and the mothers, leaking milk, were shoved into small crates two at a time.

On Friday, 11 of the 30 dogs came to New York (photos). Before that it was 17. It takes 3-4 rescue organizations to handle this many dogs at once and so we’ve joined forces to do the greatest amount of good.

11 Puppy Mill Rescues

Its estimated that our mill sources house anywhere from 500 to 800 breeder dogs living a life of pure hell. Jemma, a white rescued Chihuahua, was just one of these dogs. And yet she is such a happy, shining soul despite her need for reconstructive surgery for poor genetics (We know her one son, now adopted, was born the same way and nearly thrown away, yet the mills kept breeding Jemma and selling her “purebred” pups.). Can you please chip in for Jemma’s care? 

When the dogs arrive…

Never have you seen a more happy dog when the world opens before them beyond a crowded chicken wire cage. These dogs light up regardless of oozing paws damaged from wire cage floors, eyes so sticky the dog can’t see through the flies, internal parasites so plentiful that up to 3 dewormings are required, teeth fully rotted from poor nutrition and lack of water, or kidneys so weak they only have 35% function.  Some immediately seek human touch and comfort. Others take a bit longer to understand, but they do learn with patience and love.

What boils my blood…

We protect our contact’s identity to preserve a mill’s hard-earned trust, trust that took years to build and which remains precarious regardless. But I abhor the fact that we must shield the identity of the mills in order to save the dogs. None of us in New York know where exactly the dogs come from beyond which state. The paperwork is color coded so we are kept blind to the details. We must often remind ourselves that, at the end of the day, our contact and the Companion Animal Placement Program has saved truckloads of dogs this way and that we at Dog House Adoptions have joined a valiant and vigilant fight.

Know the facts…

Pet stores will tell you that their puppies come from “USDA licensed breeders.” USDA licensure is a good indicator that the breeders are, in fact, puppy mills. Licensing by the USDA as a commercial breeder is strictly reserved for those selling puppies to pet stores or brokers. Even the meager guidelines they tend not to enforce are horrific.

According to the ASPCA:

Under the federal Animal Welfare Act, which is enforced by the USDA, dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in cages only six inches longer than the dog in each direction, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives.  It’s completely legal to house dogs in cages with wire flooring and to breed female dogs at every opportunity.

One way mills skirt the law is to sell their dogs strictly online. This type of sale falls into a loophole that does not require USDA licensing or inspection. If you think paying good money for papers ensures a healthy breeding stock, you are sorely mistaken.

Do your dollars support the mill dog industry?

ASPCA - Don't Shop 'til They StopYou may be supporting a life of cruelty for millions of dogs confined to pumping out puppies like machines. Refuse to do either of the following and you can change that fact:

  • Do not purchase a puppy at a pet store or online
  • Buy your pet supplies from stores (online or brick and mortar) that do not sell puppies

Find ethical pet stores by zip code thanks to the ASPCA. Visit the database to find one near you or add one that you know of! Just remember, don’t shop ’til they stop. Your dollar makes the difference.

Meet the one that grabbed my heart…

Kim Clune and Puppy Mill Rescue, Leila

Kim Clune and Mill Rescue Leila

This little lady from Friday’s transport made me fall apart, a little momma who ran joyfully like the others but instantly froze and closed her eyes at my touch. Being spayed today, she’ll never have to deliver or lose another puppy. (Her last puppy was taken away.)

We’re going to heal her eyes and I will do everything in my power to help her see that touch is every bit as good as she thinks it might be. Last night, in my lap, she flattened to me as if to disappear … yet she let me feed her this way. I set her down and she came right back. It’s a start.

I’ve named her Leila, honoring her with more than a number, if she even had that. My husband and I are personally sponsoring her care. This one has my whole heart wrapped around her. If she weren’t at the vet, I’d be with her right now. Since I’m not, I’m using my time to ask for your help.

Please consider adoption.

Every single day, sweet dogs like Leila need you and they will quickly blossom in your care. Nothing feels better than knowing that you gave a dog a chance.

Blog the Change for Animals the 15th of every January, April, July and October, an event sponsored by Be the Change for Animals.


  1. Oh my goodness, I am at work trying to hide the tears in my eyes as I read them, especially when I read this “a little momma who ran joyfully like the others but instantly froze and closed her eyes at my touch”. That is heartbreaking. And hopefully this will be the beginning of a new life for her and the other pups. It doesn’t matter how many horror stories one reads about the mills, one can never get over the shock of reading how humans can treat other living beings. This really needs to stop.

    • I can promise that life is going to get infinitely better for all of the mill dogs at CAPP. There have been amazing success stories. If you’d like to see, watch this. I guarantee it will dry your tears and make you smile!

      • Oh this really was great to see! I love it when their puppyness comes out even after all the nightmares they have been through. But I especially love when I see “rehabed” older dogs get that look of relief in their eyes. Thank you for what you do!

  2. Great story Kim. Our Maggie was rescued from a puppy mill – a breeder mom like your little Leila. We’ve had her for just a year now and it’s still a challenge for her to get past her fears and over the life she knew for 8 years. But each day she makes progress…she just came running in from the backyard where she had been doing a little digging and laying in the mud. Not bad for a dog who was so afraid she wouldn’t leave her bed in my office for the 1st month after we got her. Now she goes outside in the big backyard all by herself – a real milestone. I’m so grateful she feels comfortable enough with us to do that. The rewards of this are great!

    • I can picture her progress and I can see her happiness through your description. Equally wonderful, I can see your happiness. Maggie is so lucky to have you!

  3. Leila is so beautiful! Wonderful work! It’s so heartbreaking that these little guys have to live in such horrible conditions. A lot of people that I know do not even know where pet store puppies come from. So glad we have people like you getting their stories out! Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Leila has blossomed since I wrote this post. She was a superstar at a recent adoption event and may have received a good home as of today! The family is certainly interested!

  4. Excellent article. Here in MO the commercial breeders have been hit hard by our new (flawed) law and many are closing ( In rural MO, it is an agricultural issue and people believe they should have the freedom to raise whatever, however, to make a buck. And it is is not only dogs that lead a life of misery..) My mom’s dog was a puppy mill dog and poor Andy had a myriad of health problems his whole life from poor genetics. That puppy mill is out of business now, but there still are so many. .

    • Hi Sue,

      I’m sorry for Andy’s health troubles, but I’m glad he had your mom through it all. Ohio has a new law as well and I think some significant dog dumping is occurring thanks to its implementation. But Amish country is the worst culprit for puppy mills and the state has ignored them for so long. I think it’s going to take a very long time and a lot of hard work to enforce limits, let alone shut them down.

  5. Thank you for this post. I will share it as widely as I can. I’m going to work as hard as I can to help educate people about the reality of puppy mills and buying dogs. I commented on a post I read yesterday that talked about the best breeds for first-time owners. It mentioned nothing about mixed breed dogs or adoption, just gave people considering dog ownership a stronger desire to go out and buy a purebred dog. It frustrated me to see this kind of article from a popular dog magazine. But I thank you for this post and your work!

    • Spreading the word is the best defense. Thank you for that!

      And thank you for making the point about the value that mixed breed bring to our lives. Personally, I’m sick to death of hearing about how one breed is better than another. Dogs love. I love dogs. I don’t care what their breed is. Maybe its bad to be in rescue and not be able to identify breeds so specifically, but I am not drawn to a kind of dog. I’m drawn to the soul behind their eyes and how we connect.

  6. Oh, Kim. I’m late in stopping by, but this post touched my heart. Thank you for all that you do for these sweet souls.

    • Thanks for saying so, AJ. Blogging in general has fallen by the wayside for me, as has frequenting others’ blogs. I’m so sorry I haven’t been to visit yours in so long. This is a huge part of “the why.”

  7. Well, Kim, it’s no secret how I feel about the mills and what they do to the poor dogs that bring them such profits…I’m thrilled you’ve gotten involved with rescuing these babies, and so proud to call you my friend!

    Leila’s past may be a heartbreaker, but in your hands – she’ll have a shining future. Love to you and all the pups, and best wishes with the rescuing!

    • Thank you, Kim! We should form a mutual admiration society. It’s no secret that I have long watched your on-location pet store puppy awareness protests and wished we had groups here doing that. Thanks for your support. You’ve got mine too!

      PS: Leila has been spayed, had a good dental, and – best of all – has a new, loving home!

  8. Are you keeping her Kim? I know how much they can grab your heart. Congrats if what I read was true. She couldn’t have a better home.

    • I would keep them all if I could, Mel, but no. I went to her for cuddles. She never came home with me. Since she became so sweet with people, there were plenty interested in Leila. One applicant stood out in particular. Leila now has a wonderful new family who adores her as much as I do!

  9. If you think paying good money for papers ensures a healthy breeding stock, you are sorely mistaken.

Speak Your Mind