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.